SPIEGEL Data is the data journalism team of the German major weekly Der Spiegel and its online offshoot Spiegel Online, one of the most widely read news websites in Germany. Although we’re a rather small unit, our tasks are very diversified: We support our colleagues from other departments in their day-to-day business, we work on medium-term in-depth data analyses and publish complex data-driven investigations and visual storytellings.
Let’s dive into some of our latest projects:
1. Black box Schufa
Schufa is the most influential credit bureau in Germany. We investigated its scoring algorithm using 2,000+ credit reports requested by customers during a crowdsourcing project. We found out that many people are declared a risk case with no fault of their own.
2. Commuting in Germany
More and more German employees are commuters. We built a personalized article that responds to the users’ individual commuting situation and shows them their personal story.
3. Explanatory election maps
We’ve generated a new approach to explain federal and state elections at a glance: a dense static map that focuses on the most important information and can be generated in a reproducible way with little effort.
4. The football fan atlas
Knowledge about friendships and rivalries in German football is very anecdotal. We’ve been able to collect 60,000 survey responses and get an unprecedently deep look into the field. The resulting story is rich in visualizations and the collected data has been released to multiple scientists.
5. Ultra long-haul flights
More airlines offer ultra long nonstop flights – for instance from Singapur to New York (16,500 km). We used tracking data from a flight portal to calculate the real flown distances and evaluated the CO2 emissions of these nonstop flights compared to connecting flights/layovers.
6. Alternative medical health courses
Many German adult education centers (Volkshochschulen) offer health courses that refer to alternative medical methods that are considered scientifically untenable. We scraped and evaluated thousands of course descriptions and showed which centers are the most conspicuous.
7. How a speed limit could save lives
The potential effects of a speed limit in Germany are a research gap. With a spatial analysis based on fine-granular open data we’ve been able to conduct a model calculation, showing that up to 140 deaths per year could be avoided.
8. When to buy a new phone
Flagship smartphones get more and more expensive. By analyzing data from price comparison sites, we were able to give advice to our readers how long they likely have to wait until the new models fall below a certain price level.
9. Tapping the data leak
In December 2018 a teenager published personal data of hundreds of German politicians and celebrities. We examined the material and found evidence that the attacker had used compromised credentials from previous data breaches to get access to the victims’ e-mail and cloud storage accounts.
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Source and methodology