Our Unfounded series was the result of a 20-month-long investigation into how police forces handle sexual assault cases. The Globe sent 250 freedom-of-information requests to every Canadian police service, requesting data for both sexual assault and physical assault. Our data team exhaustively and meticulously analyzed, parsed and re-reported the raw responses. What they found was damning: Police dismiss 1 in 5 sexual assault claims as baseless. Within a week, police forces serving more than 1,000 communities had launched investigations into more than 10,000 sexual-assault complaints.
With our Graffiti Kids feature, correspondent Mark MacKinnon traced the Syrian civil war back to its origins. His reporting led him to eight countries, including Jordan, Austria and Germany, over six months, interrupted by false starts and blind alleys. His persistence finally led him to the war’s initial spark: a rebellious teen and a can of spray paint that would have an effect on our world similar to the assassin’s bullet fired in Sarajevo at the outbreak of the First World War. This incredible story, presented using a combination of animation, annotation and mapping, has since been translated into several languages by European news organizations and hailed around the world as an important documenting of history.
For our groundbreaking podcast, Colour Code, we engaged Canadians in an unflinching debate about race. The result was a provocative series that debuted at #1 on Apple iTunes Podcasts in Canada. At year-end, Apple iTunes Podcasts had named it a Best of 2016 podcast.
Our successes this year have been buttressed by investments in audience analytics, data science and user experience.
We have created what we call the Globe Clock for the newsroom, helping our editors promote stories at the most relevant times for our readers based on their consumption habits. A personalization algorithm automatically recommends content for our subscribers to read. We have developed proprietary newsroom tools for analytics (which removes promotional bias and gives weight to paid subscribers) and article performance (which predicts which stories will resonate with our readers).
We have rebuilt our mobile website, greatly improving performance, ad serving and reader engagement (and will extend to desktop in the coming months). This methodical redesign is based on real-time, live audience testing.
Our commitment to understanding our audience has led to smarter social promotion, mobile-first homepage programming and a new suite of newsletters. Our focus on visual journalism has yielded an array of newsroom tools that make it easy for any reporter or editor to tell stories in new ways.
Not only has our journalism benefited, but more people are consuming it than ever before. This is no easy feat for a subscription-based media outlet covering a geographic area bigger than the United States, but with a market about one-tenth its size.