Domestic abuse statistics revealed for England and Wales
Category: Best data-driven reporting (small and large newsrooms)
Country/area: United Kingdom
Organisation: Gair Rhydd
Organisation size: Small
Publication date: 12 Sep 2019
Credit: George Willoughby
The project is an article that I wrote for the Cardiff University student newspaper Gair Rhydd. After seeing a dataset released by the ONS on the latest domestic abuse figures for England and Wales, I began cleaning and analysing the data. After ciphering through the data, I was able to piece together a story revolving around an important topic. Being a student paper, I made sure to convey the latest figures for students, as well as domestic abuse figures in a wider context. I also accompanied the article with the two infographics created in Tableau.
Domestic abuse is a sensitive topic, and that applies to whatever demographic impacted. I was able to produce a project that was perfectly suited to the student audience of the university newspaper. The figures showing the number of students who were victims of domestic abuse was alarming, and this kind of data-driven reporting is something I feel is very important. Sensitive themes like domestic abuse need to be discussed because seeing if progress is being made is essential in resolving the issue on a nation-wide scale. Being able to speak to the university was also a great help because it accompanied the data and graphics really well. One of the most important bits of data I was able to discover is that over four in five victims of domestic abuse do not report it to the police. This has to change and my project outlines all the necessary services. The data I analysed and the trends I identified are clearly presented both in written and graphic form, and this piece is a great example of data-driven reporting that would very much be suited to a small newsroom. I hope my article had an impact on any domestic abuse victims to encourage them to speak out.
The first tool I used was Microsoft Excel. I had to clean the data a bit so I could narrow down exactly what I was looking for. After that, some quick sort and filter actions meant I could see certain trends forming and would make notes on my findings in a separate spreadsheet. I then exported what I had discovered into the graphics software Tableau, which is where I created the two infographics. One of the things I highly value when it comes to visualisations is simplicity. Sometimes, graphs can be difficult to read. I made sure my tables were clear, precise, and showcased exactly what I needed them to. In terms of the article in the newspaper, I designed the page myself using Adobe InDesign. Embedding the infographics distorted the layout of the page which is why both of the tables are at the bottom of the page so they were more visible and easier to configure.
What was the hardest part of this project?
Unsurprisingly, one of the most challenging aspects of this project was the data analysis. I was dealing with a large dataset, and whilst I have done this kind of work before, I am still very new in my data journalism career. A lot of my data analysis skills are self-taught, so filtering through this specific dataset took a considerable amount of time. Being a university newspaper, we have a particular audience and I was able to write an important piece that included students in what is a pertinent issue in society. Keeping the student focus is important, and I was glad that I was able to produce something that was aimed at people at the same stage of their life as mine. This project shows a variety of skills that go into making an effective data-driven story. These include analysing a raw dataset, identifying relevant trends, producing concise infographics and being able to transfer data findings into a news article form.
What can others learn from this project?
I think for other fellow students in the same position as me, they should use my project as motivation to continue to write about important topics such as domestic violence. Even if we are student publications, we can be platforms for this kind of journalism, and it should be encouraged. We have an opportunity to make a difference in being able to write regularly. I for one will certainly be looking to produce similar projects whilst I continue with my studies. Another thing I would say others can learn from my project is that it shows some of the possibilities you have working with data. Starting off with just a dataset, my project demonstrates how you can use your findings to create multiple infographics and formulate an entire project that consists of your work.