Making the election of the next president in America relevant to Danes

Making the election of the next president in America relevant to Danes

Organisation: Danish Broadcasting Corporation (Denmark)

Publication Date: 03/14/2017

Size of team/newsroom:small

Description

The editorial team was assembled in the fall of 2016 to serve as a temporary digital spearhead to cover the American presidential election, and was based in DR’s Investigative Data Team. The purpose of the editorial team was to make the presidential election relevant to the Danes through original, digital coverage on dr.dk. The Digital Presidential Election Team is recommended for the Data Journalism Award 2017 for it’s unique and innovative digital solutions to well-known formats in election coverage. Any election coverage entails a series of evergreens like presenting results, portraying candidates, explaining the election system and giving an overview of the different candidates’ positions. The defining characteristic for DR’s digital coverage has been that many of these evergreens has been presented in new and surprising ways that are tailored for the smartphone screen and functionality. When you combine good quality journalism, beautiful graphics and tailormade coding, you get both unique content and unique formats. The team succeeds to make this point clear with this double portrait.

What makes this project innovative? What was its impact?

Why should the Danish people pay interest to the election of the president in a foreign country? That was the question our team decided to answer. By building original digital applications we told the Danes facts about the American society and politicians in a new, creative form which ensured the election got as close to the Danish readers as possible. And they liked it. Our twin-bio application about the candidates was one of the most read articles at dr.dk in the year 2016. Without slacking on the insight, the lives of the two candidates, the team made a compressed digital portrait, where the visual elements support central ups and downs in each candidate’s life. The readers can scroll through a road starting at the candidates’ childhood homes and ending at the doorstep of the White House. The graphic is playful like a small computer game. The readers decide their own pace and can decide for themselves if they want to read all the elements, which are again tailored for smartphones. The double portrait of Clinton and Trump is a proof that original digital journalism is not a copy of neither newspaper, television nor radio. Digital journalism is a genre of its own that delivers yet another opening into election coverage. How do you, for example, give an overview of theAmerican society voting on the 8th of November? In this case the team chose to collect data on 55 different subjects that was compared to Danishconditions. The idea was to make relevant facts as incarceration rate, average wages, level of education, fertility rate, geographical facts and voter turnout relevant to the Danish readers. Every single one these 55 different facts was calculated, analyzed and then described in an extremely short text format, which would end up being presented in a Tinder-like graphic.

Technologies used for this project:

The interactive elements are hand-coded using various libraries such as AOS, ScrollMagic and TweenMax, but mostly we try to use simple, pure vanilla JavaScript; albeit ES6 via BabelJS, WebPack, Grunt etc. We rely on SVG that scales perfectly on devices ranging from high-DPI mobile-screens to big monitors and the result emits a certain crisp look especially on smartphones. Data and text are mostly stored in JSON and during the edit-process, we used Google Sheets as ‘data-storage’ to enable easy edits by the editorial team.

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