Murder at Home

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

Country/area: Kenya

Organisation: Nation Media Group

Organisation size: Big

Publication date: 12 Jan 2019

Credit: Dorothy Otieno, Daniel Ofula, Victor Oluoch, Joshua Mutisya and Churchill Otieno

Project description:

Murder at Home provides a broad perspective of the problem of gender violence by analysing and presenting data in a way that establishes context and depict trends. The project presents the data and stories through a dynamic dashboard, interactive visualisations, photos, multimedia piece as well as moving and compelling stories from individuals impacted by the violence. The project is the most comprehensive publicly accessible database of deaths resulting from gender violence in Kenya. The project collects information from the media, police and court reports documenting the details of persons killed in gender-related violence, including name, age, and relationship with killer.

Impact reached:

Published during the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence the Murder at Home project spurred debate on gender violence and women’s rights  in the media and public events that were held to mark the period. The discussions explored why reports of gender-related deaths were on the rise. Speakers – male and female – condemned domestic abusers and questioned why there were few cases in court of people suspected of gender-related killings and hardly any convictions. Challenged on what they were doing to end gender violence, national and county government officials in the  relevant institutions  took the opportunity offered by the debates to highlight actions and policies that are in place or will be in the near future to address the problem. Murder at Home is now a resource publicly available to anyone interested in gender violence for reference.

Techniques/technologies used:

Data sourcing: Tabular for scrapping some the datasets  used in stories and Advanced search tools to research on gender violence and find relevant media reports on gender-related killings.

Data analysis: CSV, Microsoft excel and Tableau.

Data visualisation: Indesign for infographics in stories; Data wrapper and JavaScript for charts and maps on dashboard and in stories;  Gimp and JavaScript for pictures.

Dashboard development: Python, JavaScript and  JQuery.

What was the hardest part of this project?

 The recent frequent media coverage of gender-based violence has raised awareness on a trend that needs to be addressed. However, such incidents, standing individually, lack the elements and the nuances needed to adequately understand the phenomenon for appropriate intervention. As one of a kind, the project serves as a point of reference for public discourse and policy formulation at a time when increasingly data plays a central role in decision making. Our core dataset came from reviewing mainstream and social media stories on gender-related killings yet many of the articles lacked a lot of the information we needed to capture.  This necessitated a follow-up process that involved calling  reporters who did the gender-related killings articles and individuals who posted  cases  on social media. It was a lot of work since  only one person was assigned to do the task even as they worked on other Newsplex projects. But it was worth it as in the end we created the most comprehensive publicly accessible database of deaths resulting from gender violence in Kenya.  

What can others learn from this project?

 Just because the information you are looking is not easily available does not mean you should give up an assignment.  Expect unforseen challenges and adjust your project to address them the way Newsplex did by  coming up with a plan to follow up with story sources . The small Newsplex team withstood  the pressures of daily newsroom deadlines and spent months painstakingly creating a project  that exposed the magnitude of gender killings in Kenya, showed that anyone is a potential victims and connected with the readers by focusing on victims including children who  were killed, mostly  in intimate partner related violence.  Murder at Home also revealed that even  though the problem appears to be getting out of hand, no strong support is being provided to address the menace of gender-related killings by the various stakeholders.  

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