This two-part story explored the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on many of the Philippines’ biggest businesses, from telecommunications firms and food chains to malls and banks.
Big businesses’ sales, cash reserves, capital expenditures, and even top management salary cuts are just some of the data points that reveal how business empires are adjusting to the most catastrophic health crisis in recent history.
The stories were able to illustrate the pandemic’s impact on some of the Philippines’ biggest industries and conglomerates using financial datasets in a simplified manner.
With the government not providing enough data, and at some point even tried concealing them, the stories were able to flesh out specific details on the difficulties faced by companies.
The series gave Filipinos a better picture what jobs were lost, how businesses were recalibrating their operations just to get by, and just how little government intervention was.
It also exposed just how much space in Manila is allocated for consumerism, and how quickly it all turned to ghost towns amid the pandemic.
The data for these stories were processed through Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets, and then displayed in graphs and charts cheated through Datawrapper.
What was the hardest part of this project?
Businesses in the Philippines, in general, are quite secretive in their financials. I had to talk to stock market experts and sourced data from them, as well as convince some of the biggest names in business – that often shy away from the media – to talk to me.
I also found it challenging to simplify finance jargons for the mass audience.
What can others learn from this project?
I think people can appreciate financial reporting through the 2-part series, as it is written primarily for regular people and not investors or business executives – a practice that often plagues business journalism.
The stories also give an overview to some of the Philippines’ most recognizable brands, how they’re suffering due to the pandemic, and how capitalism is shaping up under the so-called new normal.