Organisation: SVT (Sweden)

Publication Date: 03/31/2017

Size of team/newsroom:small


How does it feel to leave everything behind and start afresh in a foreign country? We try to answer that, and other, questions in this project. It's a crowdsource with 200 people who fled the war in Syria and came to Sweden. We wanted to give them a voice and a chance to tell the rest of Sweden what they want to share about their lives. We give them a voice, and at the same time we give the rest of Sweden an opportunity to get to know their new fellowmen. We tell their stories - in their own words. With this project we shine a light on the situation for Syrian refugees. Not only on their flight but their lives in Syria and in Sweden. You get the whole story - as they want to tell them. The audience is really everyone. For swedes it is an opportunity to get to know their new neighbours and learn that we all have many things in common, no matter where we come from. Our audience is also other refugees. By reading each other's stories, they can feel that they are not alone and learn how other people have handled potential problems in Sweden. It is also a chance for refugees around the world to get insight on what it is like to come to Sweden - before they decide where to go. That is one of the reasons that we have translated it to English and Arabic - everyone can benefit from taking part of these stories. We did a "hidden" crowdsource, where we searched after people in social media groups and asylum accommodations. One part of our job became explaining what SVT and Public Service is, that we are a media house that is not controlled by the state or by money. To build trust.

What makes this project innovative? What was its impact?

There are many things special with this project. The biggest thing is that we told 200 people's lives stories. We told it all, everything they wanted to share. The biggest impact has perhaps been for the participants themselves. To be heard and get the opportunity to tell your story. We asked 200 people 50 questions, most of them open questions. Questions about their lives in Syria before the war started, how it changed when the war came, about the flight to Sweden and their lives here now, and what they dream about. We also asked them questions about integration. We took their answers, who was in arabic, and translated them to Swedish. Then we wrote coherent stories from their answers, that we then translated to English and Arabic. We wanted as many people as possible to be able to take part of their stories. We built translation tools and a whole system to built the articles in. We also built a picture-uploading service so that everyone who wanted could send pictures for us to publish in their stories. We produced maps of their flight to be able to show the way they took to Sweden. Most of the data is text, but we do have som more "clean" data as well, for example what they did in Syria (study, work etc), what they do here, how much the flight cost, when they got here, when they got (if) their residents permit, if they have any Swedish friends etc. Our contact with these people, and the database of answers gives us a unique possibility to follow up on them. What will their lives look like in one or two years? And how does integration in Sweden really work? We also filmed about 40 of them, letting them share their thoughts and feelings about a photo or object that they brought from Syria that mean a lot to them. Big organisations and other media shared our project, such as Amnesty, UNHCR, CNN, NYT, and a number of media stations in Syria. The site has been read in more than 100 different countries.

Technologies used for this project:

All main systems (API:s, Survey imports, Translation tools, Site management and Public site) run on node servers and are written in Javascript. API:s are built with Apollo and GraphQL. Data is stored in PostgreSQL. All UI:s are made with React. The site is designed mobile-first and scale well to all screen sizes. Images adapt in ratio and resolution depending on device, and lazy-loads to save bandwidth. For the maps we used CartoDB.


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