House prices have been a problem all across Europe, with Portugal being particularly hit by the increase of those prices. Even though that’s something everyone in the country is aware of (and worried about), the news cycle only allowed journalists to focus on the When and What, but never on the Who and the Why. Why is it so hard to rent an apartment? And is everyone being affected in the same way?
Our team, in collaboration with the academic contributors, built a tool that aimed to let people know where they could afford to rent with their income. Because of the level of personalization that this interactive feature gives to the readers, even people who already own a house in some places can put themselves in the shoes of someone who is trying to rent a house in the country. We believe that this level of personalization was the key to its success. The article received more than 800 interactions on Facebook and was shared by pages like the Lisbon Tenants Association, meaning that people being affected by the problem were able to understand it better. Because the article was co-authored with two academic researchers, it was also a spark to ignite the debate between economists and other researchers in the field.
R and QGIS were used to analyze the data and make some draft charts.
What was the hardest part of this project?
The biggest challenge was making accessible a topic that is so complex. Because we were working with two academic researchers, there was always the need to reframe the topic and say: ok, but how can we explain that in terms that everyone can understand?
What can others learn from this project?
I would say that working with academic researchers as co-authors rather than “simple” sources can be great. The data analysis can be way more interesting since someone that knows a lot about the data you are exploring is by your side. I’ve found out that scientists can also be very good at suggesting ways to tell a story. When something sounded way complex, usually I used to say: ok, but can you give me an example? Usually, THAT example was the compelling way to tell the story to the reader.