Tag Archives: Syrian civil war

My first data journalism award!

That’s right, the news application I created for PRI.org has won the Public Choice Award in the Data Journalism Award 2016!

Thanks to my colleagues, families, friends and readers who have voted for the news application “What if the Syrian civil war happened in your country?”.

It was first shortlisted as one of the five finalists under the category “News Data App of the Year (Small Newsroom)” and later, together with other finalists in all 10 categories, opened for public voting. The finalist with the highest vote would be given the Public Choice Award. The awards organized by the Global Editors Network received 241 entries this year.

Here’s the idea behind the news app that simulates the damages brought by the Syrian civil if it were to happen in another country.

“How do you generate empathy with the victims of a war that has been repeatedly told through various formats and media in the past 5 years? Despite being the most disastrous humanitarian situation in the 21st century, most of us have become numb to the Syrian civil war. Numbers and infographics highlighting the cruelty of the crisis no longer move us. In conjunction with the fifth anniversary of the Syrian civil war and the growing anti-refugee sentiment in the US and Europe, this news app uses basic data to allow users to simulate the civil war in their own country, moving the war closer to their hearts. This is another attempt by PRI.org to combine personalization of data, interactivity and creativity to create empathy after the hugely successful news app “What if your hometown were hit by the Hiroshima atomic bomb?” last August.”

Cited and embedded by other news websites in both the US and Europe, it has been used over 37,000 times in less than one month by users from all over the world, generating much more traffic than an average PRI story.

Sometimes crazy charts work really well

One way to grab readers’ attention and drive your message home is to have the “wow” factor in your story. Visual is a good way to create such dramatic effect.

Just before the 2015 Thanksgiving weekend, I knew that it was a good timing to do story about caring for refugees, but the challenge is how to make the story stand out from all the festive stories and information while making a point about the refugee crisis in the Middle East and Europe.

I came out with two ridiculous charts. One compares the cost of settling refugees in the US and how much the Americans spend for Thanksgiving. The result is way beyond any expectation.

The second chart compares the death toll of the Paris terrorist attack in November 2015 and that of the Syrian civil war. The result is less dramatic but still shocking.

Check them out yourself.