Christopher Udemans

Entry type: Portfolio

Country/area: Singapore

Publishing organisation: The Straits Times

Organisation size: Big

Cover letter:

I am a digital graphics journalist at The Straits Times in Singapore, where I work on visual and data storytelling for the newspaper’s online offering. My aim is to use data in the service of helping readers make better informed decisions.

Using data has been part of my approach to journalism for the past several years, starting as a China-focused reporter tracking the country’s tech companies, to now, where my mandate is much broader, allowing me to use the full range of my skills to tell data-driven stories.

In the pursuit of public service journalism, our team at the Straits Times has worked on several stories aimed at informing and engaging readers in an interactive way. I was a project lead on several of these stories.

One of these public service interactives tracked the dengue outbreak in Singapore last year, allowing readers to find out if they live in an area considered a dengue cluster, or if a location they will be visiting is considered a cluster.

This project was updated daily and readers could enter in an address that gave them information about the area, including if there were any dengue clusters nearby. Aside from a tracker, the piece functioned as an explainer on how the disease is spread.

In another article, we used data from Singapore’s finance ministry to calculate a personal inflation rate based on spending habits. The interactive allowed readers to see how far their monthly budget could go compared with last year, and what their overall inflation rate was, allowing them to make better-informed budgeting and saving decisions based on the results.
Over the past year I have also had the chance to work on sports stories: a beat that I had little experience covering. I worked on a data-driven piece focused on how Singapore’s first private football club, the Lion City Sailors, aims to become one of the country’s top football teams.

In another sports piece, I focused on spectator chants from countries around the globe in last year’s World Cup. This required a mammoth amount of data processing, converting audio into data that we could use and visualise. The piece pushed my skills as a data reporter, and incorporated some advanced techniques including machine learning.

My mantra as a journalist has also been one of acquiring knowledge to improve my reporting chops. Over the past few years I have spent my nights doing short courses online, with the aim of sharpening my skills. Last year I decided to formalise this knowledge and start a masters degree in data science at the University of London. Since then, I’ve incorporated tools like natural language processing and machine learning into the way I do journalism.

Description of portfolio:

1. Are you living in a dengue cluster? Dengue is a big problem in Singapore around the summer months. This project used public data to track the spread of Dengue around the city, and show where the Dengue clusters were located. The piece combined aspects of a tracker and an explainer to clarify how and why the virus was spreading. Role: Project lead, data journalist, developer, designer

2. What is your personal inflation rate? Inflation has become a major stress for people around the world. This interactive allows readers to calculate their personal inflation rate and how their spending power has changed over the past year. Role: Data journalist, developer, designer

3. How the Lion city Sailors are outspending other Singapore premier league clubs. A data-driven profile of Singapore’s first private football club, the Lion City Sailors. In the interactive, we look at what makes the team different, how they hope to reach the top of the league, and how much the players on the team are worth. Role: Data journalist, developer, project lead

4. Sounds of the stadium: Anatomy of a World Cup Chant. The interactive combined data visualisation and analysis with audio to look at the linguistic and musical traits of spectator chants from countries in the World Cup. The interactive provided the means to explore individual chants, and compare one country’s chant to another. Role: Project lead, data journalist, designer, developer

Project links: