Russia’s gas weapon in Europe

Entry type: Single project

Country/area: Belgium

Publishing organisation: De Tijd

Organisation size: Big

Publication date: 2022-01-29

Language: Dutch

Authors: Olaf Verhaeghe, Thomas Segers, Raphael Cockx, Thomas Roelens, Tobe Steel, David Adriaen


De Tijd’s Data & Interactive team publishes original news stories supported by in-depth data analysis. Our team uses its diverse skills to collect, analyze and visualize data in order to discover new trends, interesting patterns and surprising outliers. Our publications are supported by insightful graphics that make complex ideas understandable. Through interactive news applications, we guide readers step-by-step through the story and provide personalized information.

Project description:

De Tijd was one of the first news outlets to create a daily dashboard that provides readers with an always up-to-date overview of all relevant metrics of Europe’s gas crisis caused by Russia’s use of gas as a weapon. Next to key information on the storage levels in different European countries, the dashboard also includes information on the current gas prices, the level of gas reserves, the amount of gas flowing to Europe. Most recently we also quantify the effects of the measures taken to address shortages.

Impact reached:

The data dashboard created by the data team at De Tijd was not only a daily resource for readers, but also formed a foundational source of input for the entire newsroom to enhance, deepen, and illustrate our leading energy reporting. The page was accessed by almost unique 40,000 visitors. The information it contained served as the basis for more than a dozen news articles that were prominently featured on all channels, subsequently reaching over 100,000 readers.

Techniques/technologies used:

Our datajournalists, Thomas Segers and Raphael Cockx, used a combination of API queries to various energy institutes including GIE, Entsog, ICE, and Eurostat, and scripting languages such as R and node.js to gather the necessary data. These scripts were set up to run on a daily basis, seamlessly integrating new information into our interactive dashboard. The dashboard was built using a combination of custom d3-charts and pre-built datawrapper charts, allowing for easy collaboration and maintenance among our team. Data journalist Olaf Verhaeghe was responsible for interpreting the data and providing written analysis for the interactive dashboard as well as for additional news articles. Additional input was provided by our in-house energy experts Tobe Steel en David Adriaen.

Context about the project:

Despite being a small data team, we were able to quickly and effectively gather and analyze a vast amount of information, becoming one of the first news outlets in Europe to do so. This gave us the ability to set a unique and independent course in our energy reporting, resulting in original and in-depth coverage of the most significant news subject of the past year.

What can other journalists learn from this project?

Other journalists can learn from this project by understanding the importance of using data and technology to enhance and deepen their reporting on complex and important topics. The data dashboard created by the team at De Tijd not only served as a valuable resource for readers, but also provided a foundation for their entire newsroom to enhance their energy reporting. Additionally, other journalists can learn from the team’s use of API queries and scripting languages, as well as their use of custom and pre-built data visualization tools to collaborate and maintain data dashboards.

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