Behind the Fires

Category: Best data-driven reporting (small and large newsrooms)

Country/area: Spain

Organisation: Outriders

Organisation size: Small

Publication date: 23/12/2019

Credit: Author: Gabriel Uchida, Data research: Lola García-Ajofrín, Design: Kasia Polus, Web development: Piotr Kliks.

Project description:

NASA satellites registered a record in the size and number of fires in Brazilian Amazon in 2019. Behind the fires, there is a bigger and more silence problem – deforestation. In just one year, almost 10,000 square kilometres of forest vanished in Brazil.

Photojournalist Gabriel Uchida, based in Amazons, meet the Uru-eu-wau-wau people, a threatened indigenous group is struggling to survive and is trying to protect the forest.

The article includes visualizations with Google Earth in South America, Rondonia and Bolivia, a map of changes in global forests and a live map that shows fires in the last 7 days.


Impact reached:

Amazon fires captured the world attention and interantional media in August, however media and audience forgot about it soon after. With this article written by a Brazilian photojournalist who spent the last years documenting the changes in Brazilian Amazon and clear visualizations of deforestation and fires we tried that the public go deeper.

The article was published in English and Polish and it include a mobile version through Insta stories in Instagram.

Techniques/technologies used:

This article combines the basics of the traditional journalism (going to a place, talking with people and reporting) together with the an innovative way of visualization: a timelapse of Google Earth and a Live Map of fires continuosly updated.

On the one hand, Brazilian photojournalist Gabriel Uchida traveled to one of the most dangerous indigenous reserves in the Brazilian Amazon, he drived and used boats and took intimate portraits. On the other hand, Kasia Polus got to show in a simple and attractive way the changes in Amazons using Google Earth and Modis to show a live map that it is always updated.

What was the hardest part of this project?

This interactive story has been a team work with several challenges: firstly it was to find the accurate journalist who knew well Amazons and what it was happened. Secondly, it was to analyze and understand the data and choose the best way of telling to the audience why these fires were different.

What can others learn from this project?

With Behind the Fires the reader can learn about an unique community that until the 80’s did not have contact with other people than them. So firstly this article is a thrilling trip through Brazilian Amazon. Secondly the graphics allow the reader to understand the magnitude of deforestation in Amazons.

Project links: