Inequality and childhood: the things that affect your success in life
Category: Best data-driven reporting (small and large newsrooms)
Organisation: Helsingin Sanomat
Organisation size: Big
Publication date: 25/12/2019
Credit: Heidi Väärämäki, Kimmo Taskinen, Elisa Bestetti, Juho Salminen
A personalized and interactive story about things that affect your success in life. What was your childhood home like, how old were your parents, how was school, did your parents read to aloud? And so on. The data in the background is based on over 80 scientific reserach papers – this is how we can say that these thing really have an affect in the peoples lives.
The story is interactive: you are asked questions as the story goes on and the text is personalized for you according to your answers.
The story was widely read, shared and discussed. It got over 350 000 visits (in a country of 5,5 million people). From social media and feedback it is possible to see that the story really made people think about their childhood and how self made their success really is.
One impact is that the story introduced an advenced way to report about scientific research. Every question or factor has a source. If we say that moving home a lot as a child might not be good for you we can point the source research for this. A group of 28 researchers were involved in the process. They analyzed the relevant reserch papers for us to use.
The story has 15 questions. From analytics we can see that it had a tight grip: over 90 percent of those who answered the first questions also answered the last ones.
The reporter wrote the story in a table format. If you answer question nr 1 “Yes” and question nr 2 “No”, this is how the text will look like to you.
The tools used to get the story together: html, css, js and vue.js
What was the hardest part of this project?
Once we got the data from the research team the hardest part was to write the storyline in a way that it feels personalized (“This story is talking to me and about me”) and also like a quality journalistic feature article – not just something that is put together from random cells in a table. To better understand this, here is an example of the structure:
- Intro text (same text for everyone)
- First set of questions:
- When you were born, did your mother have at least a secondary education degree, that is, had she graduated or had a vocational qualification? Yes / no
- When you were born, were at least one of your parents under 20? Yes / no
- Did you know if your mother had depression when she was waiting for you? Yes / no
- Text explaining things about the topics in the questions (same for everyone).
- Paragraph about question 1. There is a different version for answer “yes” and “no”. Your answer determines the one that is shown to you.
- Paragraph about question 2. There is a different version for answer “yes” and “no”. Your answer determines the one that is shown to you.
- Paragraph about question 3. There is a different version for answer “yes” and “no”. Your answer determines the one that is shown to you.
What can others learn from this project?
- Don’t be afraid to work together with researhers.
- An important but sometimes distant topic (things that create inequality in early years of life) can be made into an immersive experience using interactive and tailored storytelling.