Decline of East District: the rent is not the only cause.

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

Country/area: Taiwan

Organisation: READr

Organisation size: Small

Publication date: 25/06/2019

Credit: Producer: Chien Hsin-chan Executive Producer: Chen Tzy-Tyng Journalist: Liu Tzu-Wei Design: Hsu Ling-Wei Photographer: Li Chao Yen Data: Chien Hsin-chan Web developing: Tan Hsueh-Yung

Project description:

By combining data of shops rental(rentalprice, shops-being-empty-for-rent time, numbers of shops waiting to be rented ) and MRT travel volume, we explored whether the East District of Taipei is really in decline as other media have said. The fact of”EastDistrict is declining” was later proved by the data we collected. We then tried to find out the causes and possible solutions through interviews.

Impact reached:

This feature tried to use data as evidences to confirm whether the phenomenon of”EastDistrict  Declining” is true rather than just seeing other media reports individual shops’ closing. We did not set an assumption at the beginning. Instead, we started from examining data, asking questions from the data, trying to figure out different factors of the causes.  We then consulted experts and local shop owners with data we found, trying to be an alternative model of investigative reporting.

Techniques/technologies used:

We used html to convert the data from Taipei City Office of Commerce that was originally in the format of excel file and with inconsistent columns into analyzable csv format.  Next we used R studio for data cleaning. The shopping districts areas were assigned by Taipei City Office of Commerce. We selected shop addresses that are in the area of East District. After locating these addresses, we examined whether the number of shop-opening was reducing and the number of shop-closing is increasing on yearly basis.  Finally, by using d3.js to visualize the set of data, we used d3 to draw a simplified version of the map. With locations of the shops, we can see numbers and locations of shops that were opened or closed in different years on the map. The set of maps became the animation of this feature’s landing page. In the text, we cooperated with real estate industry businessmen to obtain shop rental information. After collating Taipei MRT travel volume within the time period required by the feature, we compared it and found that the rents of East District have declined, but visitors has also declined. On the contrary, the rents in Ximending area have increased, but visitors has continued to soar.

What was the hardest part of this project?

The most difficult part is to find evidence of  “Declineof East District”.Although there are rental data of major shopping districts of Taipei provided by real estate developers, we were still lack of original data to back up the claim. As a result, we studied original shops registry and closure data from Taipei City Office of Commerce. We located shopsin East District from addresses, then comparedthe opening and closing datesone by one. Finally we came out with the data set that shows shop statues of each address in seven years. The sourceconfirmed that East District is indeed in decline. This kinds of approach of data and question-asking have not be seenin other Taiwanese mediaoutlets. 

What can others learn from this project?

it can be learnt that not to presume a conclusion at first, using data as a starting point then to explore various possible answers. When there is no original information and only secondary information provided by others, people can try to use the government’s public information to find an algorithm that can answer questions we discussed about. For stories or events that have already be reported by other media outlets, try to examine them from the perspective of data, some new findings or angles may surface. 

Project links: