elDiario.es: Covid-19 coverage
Organisation size: Big
elDiario.es is a digital news site which has become a major reference in current affairs for a new generation of Spanish readers, and also a pioneer in high quality content and innovative business model worldwide.
Launched in the middle of the financial crisis in 2012 with no big investors or corporates backing it – just a bunch of journalists and their savings – elDiario.es has developed a community-based journalism model reaching mainstream audiences with scarce resources. Among the dozens of new digital projects born in the past decade in Spain, elDiario.es stands out.
More than 12M unique users per month (ComScore Mmx) now read eldiario.es and that figure grows every month. And elDiario.es is the most widely read native digital media outlet in Spain, according to the Spanish Sociological Research Center.
The key business innovation is the ‘membership program’ – more than 60.000 people (“socios”) already give financial support to elDiario.es in order to strengthen our editorial and economic independence. But it is not a paywall: the “socios” of elDiario.es do not pay to read the news, they pay for the information to be freely spread and thus gain social impact. They pay to belong to a community of citizens sharing values like equality, democratization, social justice and more importantly, the need for independent journalism.
Our business model has remained the same since our foundation, but when coronavirus crisis hit, the media experienced financial difficulties. In order to handle this situation, we decided to bearly change our business model and make an evolution of it always keeping our foundational principles: elDiario.es will continue to be free for those who cannot pay but it will be necessary to be a member to read elDiario.es regularly.
In a world where manipulation and propaganda advance, we do not want our journalism to be left behind a wall that excludes people based on their income. This evolution in our business model has brought to our community 18,000 new members and thousands of existing readers stepped in.
Thanks to them elDiario.es is also a profitable company. Nowadays, our community represents more than 50% of our annual income. And in order to be fully transparent with their contribution, we annually publish our financial accounts. This good practice has become an expected date for the audience who perceives us as a trustful and reliable newsroom.
Since its inception, elDiario.es opted for data journalism as a way to create quality content for subscribers and also to reach new audiences in Spain. Since 2015, our data team has always been a small data unit with at least two journalists who have based their work on constant collaboration with the entire newsroom. Now, the data journalism team is formed by 3 journalists.
This year, our Covid-19 coverage proves that this team has had a public service role. First, using data analysis, interactive narrative, and visualization of complex issues to make them understandable, and second, as an early warning of the evolution of the epidemic for our readers. In fact, the 5 most read pieces of news of the year in elDiario.es were created by the data team: our covid trackers. Precisely, our work philosophy has always been to visualize and explain things in the simplest way to the reader and collaborate with all the newsroom to search stories and do better journalism.
Description of portfolio:
*Some of our included pieces appear as published in 2021 (our trackers) because we are still updating them but they were originally published in 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the greatest health, mortality and economic crisis in the last century. For the first time, millions of people in all countries have been watching numbers and data day after day.
This is the coverage since February 2020 of the data team of elDiario.es (formed by Raúl Sánchez, Ana Ordaz and Victòria Oliveres) of the greatest mortality crisis of the century in Spain and the world. All the pieces that integrate this portfolio have been working from home since March 2020 from 3 different cities, even that challenge the result of the work has been rewarding and useful to the public.
This portfolio started with the data tracker since the first confirmed cases in China, the arrival of the virus in Europe through Italy and Spain continues and finally with the expansion to the rest of the countries of the world.
During these 6 months of pandemic, we have updated and explained day after day the visualizations of the evolution of cases and deaths in Spain and the world prioritazing the understanding and facilitating usability by users.
We have also done great visual reports and in-depth analysis. For example, on how the death toll from the coronavirus crisis is much higher than the death toll according to official records: we compare the mortality figures for 2020 with those of the last 45 years, revealing the excess mortality of more than 68,000 people over the historical average.
Furthermore, the analysis and explanations go beyond the health issue and we have focused on all the thematic axes and consequences of the pandemic: we analyze the destruction of employment, the inequality of contagion between rich and poor and the drama of collapse of nursing homes, which were abandoned in the worst of the pandemic.
This work prioritized the public service to our readers, so we have also made outreach visualizations to explain the effects of social distancing to avoid contagion, an interactive map so that everyone could know how far they could walk according to the rules during the confinement or information to alert of the situation of the epidemic at all times.
We also created a unique database of confirmed cases by municipality (information that we update every week) in Spain, consulting, one by one, the 17 autonomous communities (states) of the country. This map serves the population as an early warning indicator to know how the situation is in their city. Precisely, this database, not published by the Government of Spain, demonstrates the effort of this data team to make up for the absence of a data publication policy by the authorities, thus having to create homogeneous indicators, correct wrong data supplied, errors in the figures and dealing with the lack of coordination to publish the figures of the epidemic.
Our coverage of the coronavirus was not based on creating visually striking graphics but on counting the data explaining its meaning and the limitations it had in the simplest possible way. For example, we visualized how the coronavirus curve was flattening in Spain with interactive explanations, the reasons behind why there were so few deaths in summer even though the cases had skyrocketed or how the Government published the death figures with Covid-19 with long delay.