Broken Homes - A record year of home demolitions in occupied East Jerusalem

Broken Homes - A record year of home demolitions in occupied East Jerusalem

Organisation: AJLabs for Al Jazeera (Qatar)

Publication Date: 04/02/2017


Size of team/newsroom:large


Broken Homes is the most comprehensive project to date tracking home demolitions in East Jerusalem, a Palestinian neighbourhood that has been occupied by Israel for 50 years.   Working closely with the United Nations, Al Jazeera English tracked every single home demolition in East Jerusalem in 2016. It turned out to be a record year, with 190 structures destroyed and more than 1,200 Palestinians displaced or affected.    This project contextualizes this data by revealing the human impact these demolitions have on the people living there. 360-degree photos and video testimonies were gathered from some of the major sites to allow readers to witness the remains of a demolished home. Our reporter on the ground travelled throughout East Jerusalem over the course of the year to speak with many of the affected families.   We decided to tackle this project after witnessing an escalation in violence between Israelis and Palestinians in late 2015. The goal was twofold: to see how Israel's home demolitions policy would be affected by the increased tensions, but also to convey to readers that demolitions data is about more than just numbers. Each number represents a family, and each number tells a story. The project was released in January 2017 in English, Arabic and Bosnian. MAIN PROJECT - FACEBOOK REVERSION - BY - Megan O'Toole, Nigel Wilson, Mohammed Haddad and Konstantinos Antonopoulos for @AJLabs

What makes this project innovative? What was its impact?

This was the first time that geographic data, 360 degree images and video testimonies were used side-by-side to explain the scale, frequency and impact home demolitions have on the people living in East Jerusalem. Producing the story once and publishing it simultaneously in three languages demonstrated the reusability of data-driven stories. This was done by using one centralised Google spreadsheet reading from different columns (see source code below) No special equipment was purchased in the production of the story. This meant that a single journalist equipped with a DSLR camera (for video interviews) and an iPhone (for the 360 degree images and co-ordinates) was able to gather all the content for this story. All in all the entire project cost no more than a traditional news feature to produce.

Technologies used for this project:

The underlying technology behind broken homes is a custom application based on MapboxGL, a vector based Javascript library. The responsive website was built on Bootstrap to ensure a seamless experience on mobile. The 360-degree images were captured using Google’s Streetview app on an iPhone 6. The same iPhone was also used to accurately gauge the GPS co-ordinates of each of the home demolition sites. Videos interviews were recorded using a DSLR camera.


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