When the coronavirus crisis started, we created a website to monitor that outbreak in China through data and graphics. Then, the virus spread to Europe and we expanded the website to bring graphics to media from Spain and Latin America but also to users looking for info. To achieve that, we had to deal with the lack of info from official sources with a small team of three journalists. We managed to keep providing this service and today we generate hundreds of graphics every day that are used for all kinds of digital media in their reporting
The EpData’s graphic about the coronavirus is every day used by some major digital spanish media but also for regional media, that can’t afford a team of data journalism to make their own graphics. We are very proud also that some of our graphics about the epidemic outbreak in Spain have been used in some scientific articles and are used by some researchers to keep track of the epidemic. All of EpData’s graphics about the coronavirus are free to download and also the data to make them.
We worked with the programming language R to scrape the data from different sources, sometimes in a not friendly format as PDF. We used this language also to normalize the data as fast as we could to publish the graphic in a little time. To visualize the data, we worked with a tool developed by the engineering team of Europa Press based in D3.js. And finally, to distribute the dataset, we used the own distribution platform of Europa Press.
What was the hardest part of this project?
Probably the hardest part was to keep updating the graphics every day with a small team of three journalists working on the project at part time and dealing with the lack of data in the firsts moments of the pandemic and the inconsistencies in the info coming from official sources. We achieved that without stopping to offer hundreds of graphics for the regional media every day.
What can others learn from this project?
The lesson we take from those obstacles so other journalisms can benefit is how to work with a free programming language as R or Python can face a demanding project with a small team and little resources . Besides, we learned the importance of offering regional data to bring the users the opportunity to discover their own headline.