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2019 Excellence and Innovation in Visual Digital Storytelling, Small Newsroom finalist

Politics through the Data

About the Project

With the election of a new president in France in May 2017, we asked ourselves many questions about the journalistic coverage of a complete mandate. Compared to 5 years ago, there are a lot of new sources of data and content production automation techniques that have emerged.

The election of Emmanuel Macron was for us the opportunity, for the first time, to put an entire presidency under monitoring. Since the start of the mandate, we have been tracking and storing a large amount of informations about French political life in a database. For example: the agendas of the president and the prime minister, daily tweets from all MPs, their individual votes on each bill, their participation in parliamentary committees, etc. A way to tell politics differently, to take the pulse on a regular basis of an eventful mandate and to make a quantitative and factual assessment of the government’s activity.

We want to create the most complete database on French political life, since the very beginning of the presidency, live updated. As journalists, we have had to take an appraisal, for example, of a political mandate. Often, it was at this point that we realized that the data that would have allowed us to do so had disappeared over time, or was too massive to be realistically collected and analyzed. Our first innovation for this project is to reverse the logic by preciously gathering and storing data first and foremost to feed our stories.

It allows us to feed a series of 8 data-driven investigations “A Data sur la politique,” published by the french pure player “Les Jours,” an independent subscription-based news media that covers news through a series of articles, called “obsessions.” For “Politics through the data,” our data-driven political “obsession,” we have also created a new format, inspired by stories such as Snapchat’s or Instagram’s ones. Ideal for reading on mobile. Indeed, this innovative and voluntary approach required an equally innovative publication. The choice of the story format quickly imposed itself to stage a series of stories mainly built around data visualizations.

So we have created a tool to produce this stories that can manage a journalist without any notion of code. It’s a semi-WYSIWG editor that allows non-developers of the team to work on their own. We use common web technologies: Javascript and PHP mainly. This editor produce a public version of the story which is easy to navigate, optimized and responsive, ready to be uploaded on a server.