How Do the Rich Really Think?

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

Country/area: Finland

Organisation: Helsingin Sanomat

Organisation size: Big

Publication date: 9 Jan 2019

Credit: Tuomo Pietiläinen, Uolevi Holmberg, Elisa Bestetti, Tuomas Jääskeläinen, Minna Nalbantoglu and Juhani Saarinen.

Project description:

This article tells the results of a large academic study on the richest 0.1 % in Finland. Tax data, basis of the research, on the rich was based on Helsingin Sanomat’s tax archives. For the article HS’s data team created illustrations and interative graphics. The use of animations is subtle yet effective. The story combined academic qualitative research material to the qualitative tax data collected througout the years by Helsingin Sanomat.

Impact reached:

The article is based on a large amount of interviews of Finland’s richest. The research was the first of its kind in Finland. First the article tells who these people are: who they are, where they live, how much they earn etc. Reader could also compare their yearly salary with the rich. The results of the interviews are told thematically: what they think of themselves, others, taxes, and politics. The insights on the rich are rarely heard, so the story created totally new discussion around the wealthy minority in Finland. The story had wide readership: 294 095 visits, 443 304 page views and it was the 24th read story of the whole year.

Techniques/technologies used:

Tax data from years 1999-2017 was gathered and analyzed. Data was visualized using d3.js, both on svg and on canvas.

What was the hardest part of this project?

The most challenge was how to combine vast academic material which included interviews of the wealthy people and the qualitative data from almost 20 years to work together in a narrative. We managed with structuring the text to data part and then having the quotes from the really rich people to follow the data. Like they were explaining themselves after their wealth was examined in numbers.

What can others learn from this project?

With the help of subtle visuals – data visualizations, interactive comparison and illustrations – we were able to produce a coherent narrative from the vast material. We succeeded in combining both academic and journalistic material to a higly informative and also entertaining story, that was the talk of the country for weeks.

Project links: