2023 Shortlist

Ailing Brussels

Entry type: Single project

Country/area: Belgium

Publishing organisation: Médor, a small independant newsroom based in Brussels. (https://medor.coop/)

Organisation size: Small

Publication date: 2022-06-03

Language: English, french, dutch

Authors: Catherine Joie – journalist
Karim Douieb – data designer @ Jetpack.AI
Quentin Noirfalisse – producer @ Dancing Dog Productions
Antoine Sanchez – video editor @ Dancing Dog Productions


Catherine Joie is an independant journalist. She focus her work on health, economy and climat related investigations. She was responsible for the investigation, text and interviews.

Karim Douieb is a data scientist specialised in dataviz. He was responsible for the technical development of the article.

Quentin Noirfalisse is a journalist at Médor and was the one who initiated the project.

Antoine Sanchez is a producer at Dancing Dog Productions. He edited the video interviews.

Project description:

How harmful is Brussels for your health?

– The maps show that some neighbourhoods suffer from a triple penalty: low incomes, poor health and a polluted environment.

– The analyses confirm that the three inequalities (housing, health, environment) reinforce each other.

– The experts add that it is necessary to look beyond the statistics to understand the extent of the problem in Brussels.

The «Ailing Brussels» study examines the state of health of the inhabitants of Brussels – the capital of Flanders, Belgium and Europe.

Impact reached:

We haven’t made any big discoveries in this article. The inequalities highlighted in this story were more or less known by everyone living in Brussels. We simply objectivised them, personalised the statistics and put them in context. The article is interactive and allow people to enter their address (70% of the reader did enter their information). In total 55k people have read the article which for Medor (small belgian indenpendant edition) is pretty high.

Many organisations, ONGs, public institutions and the likes have reached out to present the work we have done. Some of them are using the article as a tool to focus their activities in an operational way.

Techniques/technologies used:

We have developed the article using Svelte (a javascript framework). The visuals are made in d3js and some of the maps uses MapboxJS. The data preparation consisting of the treatment of hundreds of public data sets has been done using ObservableHQ.

Context about the project:

This work has only been possible thanks to subsidies provided by the “fond du journalisme”. Whitout this help I don’t think we could have done it. This work has was spead accross a full year. We have gone through hundreds of public datasets about Brussels.

What can other journalists learn from this project?

Data journalism is unfortunatly not very present in the Belgian media. We hope this piece could convince them that there is an audiance for it and that they should explore what is possible on their end.

Project links: