The Index of Multiple Deprivation is a rich and complex piece of research that provides a detailed look at relative deprivation across a country. The research is published every four to five years, and last year saw the publication of indexes for England and Wales.
The indexes involve a number of separate indicators across several domains covering different types of deprivation. All neighbourhoods are then ranked according to their level of deprivation relative to other areas.
The interactive personalises this information in a format that is clear and understandable, while the surrounding analysis provides context.
Indexes of Multiple Deprivation are something that will shape our readers lives as they are used as the basis for considerations of deprivation in planning and policy.
With this is mind it was important for us, for both England and Wales, to be able to clearly explain what the index was, how it was put together and how the ranking worked, to enable greater public understanding of the topic.
As well as providing background information on the index, it was also important to make the information relevant to people living in the area, by telling them which areas were the most deprived locally. By making the information as relevant as possible to a local audience, it ensured more readers clicked through to the story, meaning more people gained a greater understanding of the index of multiple deprivation.
A key part of both making these statistics more relevant to a local audience and making them more understandable is the interactive embedded in the story, which empowers users to find their own narrative within these much larger datasets. The interactive allows people to look up their postcode and find out how the neighbourhood they live in ranks in the index, both overall and on each of the individual indicators. This is an effective way to impart a large amount of information in a clear visual manner.
The combined effect of this story package, with a clear news angle, simple and clear explanation, and an element of personalisation to bring the story to life, is to make these statistic relevant and understandable to readers.
The versions linked below were one of dozens across England and Wales published on Reach’s regional sites, amplifying the impact and ensuring that thousands of readers across the country gained a deeper understanding of this statistics release.
The success of this project relied on a number of elements.
Firstly, the indexes were breaking news, with national and regional outlets relying on quick analysis to begin live blogs and other coverage that would be built on through that day and beyond. As the indexes analyse deprivation in great detail and at hyperlocal level, there was next a need for more indepth analysis that highlighted variations within local authorities and gave newsrooms across the country a basis to begin producing their own versions of the story. This part of the project involved quick spreadsheet analysis skills, with an element of robot journalism to quickly generate localised versions of the story to be shared with local reporters, including generating links to maps of the areas described making identification quick and easily verifiable.
Secondly, ensuring that the interactive had great design and was user friendly was key. This was achieved with clear design, with high levels of contrast so information is easy to read and process. Using the interactive is simple – people just need to enter a postcode to get all the available information about their neighbourhood. The map gives a clear idea of what area is being talked about – the lower super output areas the indexes use for the analysis are statistical rather than relating to areas as people experience them in everyday life so a map is a simple way to explain this to individuals.
What was the hardest part of this project?
With the indexes breaking news, being able to provide as much information as possible as quickly as possible to individual newsrooms was vital, which was challenge. It was important to ensure accuracy and have everything ready to go. Parts of the interactive could be prepped beforehand, building on elements in previous projects that we knew worked well, but getting the data into the interactive and checking that everything worked and was right had to be done to tight deadlines.
What can others learn from this project?
The importance of clear, precise, easy to understand interactives both gives peoplethe tools to explore complex datasets in a way that is useful to them, and empowers them with a greater understanding of the research and analysis that shapes public policy and their lives. Coupling this with in-depth analysis and helpful background information created a package that could be picked up in newsrooms across the country to great effect, with high engagement from readers.