2022 Shortlist

The 6,089 Dundee WW1 victims: Search their names, ages, ranks and addresses

Country/area: United Kingdom

Organisation: The Courier, Press and Journal

Organisation size: Big

Publication date: 03/11/2021

Credit: Lesley-Anne Kelly, Emma Morrice, Joely Santa Cruz


The DCT Media data team are passionate about making data more accessible to our readers. We’re dedicated to making our analysis transparent and will publish our full data and methods  wherever possible. We use a blend of traditional reporting  and data visualisation and strive to be at the cutting edge of data-driven storytelling methods.

Lesley-Anne has been working with data for well over a decade. She was born in Glasgow and moved to Dundee when she was 17 and never left which means she has lived in Dundee for 51% of her life so far.Loves a good spreadsheet but prefers R and dabbles in python and javascript where needed. In 2020 she completed a masters course in data visualisation.

Emma originally studied law but a love of writing got her into journalism instead and after completing a masters course she worked as a news reporter for four years before moving into data journalism. She has lived in Aberdeen her entire life.Her favourite part of the job is working on longer projects and seeing big ideas come to life. She also likes learning new ways to visualise data.

Joely has a science and data background and recently made the jump to data journalism. She is most happy when getting stuck in to big spreadsheets and experimenting with data analysis. Joely is based in London but lived in Dundee as a child so has come full circle by joining the Dundee team. Outside of work you will find her playing tag rugby (enthusiastically if not well) and expanding her circle of dog owners to go out walking with.

Project description:

For Remembrance Day we honoured the fallen by geolocating and mapping their home addresses and turning it into a scrollytelling experience telling their stories.

We also included a map our readers can explore and a searchable table as well as a map of where they were laid to rest for any of our readers who wished to pay their respects.

There were a number of side stories going into more depth on the tragic stories we uncovered in the dataset.

Impact reached:

It is now three months since this piece was published and we still regularly receive emails from family members thanking us and sharing the stories of their family members with us. We’ve gone on to publish follow up articles based on these including one where a family member provided us with copies of letters their fallen family member had sent during the war.

We’ve also had correspondence with people in the education sector – inlcuding one teacher who works on a Ministry of Defense campus and sought our permission to use the piece as part of her curriculum.

We are a very new data team (only formed in March 2021) and we have also found that this piece has had a significant impact internally in being more creative with use of data.

Poppy Scotland, the official Scottish Remembrance charity had the following:

“This map is a powerful reminder of how every single community has been impacted by the cost of conflict over the past 100 years. Each poppy symbolises the bravery and sacrifice of those who fought and died in defence of our nation.

Techniques/technologies used:

The original data was sent to us in excel format but as it was hand transcribed data based on records that were a hundred years old it required a lot of cleaning. For this stage we utilised Open Refine to cluster and clean the most common misspellings.

To geolocate the data we used a Google Apps Script pinging off the google map API. As a relatively small newsroom we generally try to do as much for free as possible so this was geocoded ion batches of 1,500 per day (the free limit).

Due to the age of the address data we then had to sift through the data for streets that no longer exist.

The original design idea behind the project was based on an offhanded comment that from afar it would look like ‘a field of poppies’. The poppy icon was designed in figma and it was designed to have similarities between the Scottish and Canadian official poppy icons to honour the many Scottish men that served in the Canadian military. The stalk of the poppy was a deliberate choice to add on to the ‘field of poppies’ aesthetic.

The maps and scrollytelling were done using flourish and javascript. The poppy SVGs for the pictogram were also designed using figma.

What was the hardest part of this project?

We have a motto in our data team – “NYT dreams on a DCT budget” and this project is the epitome of that.

Between our titles we had more than 11,000 records to clean and geolocate and as stated previously we tend to try to avoid having to pay for resources where possible so the addresses were located in chunks of 500 per day (per data team member – so 1,500 per day).

As a small data team that also provides a service to the rest of the newsroom to create charts for their stories, it was often difficult to allocate the time required for manual scrutiny of the data, but when we did we found ourselves sharing fascinating story after fascinating story.

As a group of millennials we had never felt andy particular connection to the tragedy of WW1 but trawling through this data and ouring our hearts and souls into creating something that would truly honour them has brought that connection to us – and we hope that connection is felt in our readers in our presentation of the data.

What can others learn from this project?

Data journalism is not just about news. Every now and then it’s good to take modern data visualisation and journalism principles and apply them to a more feature based project.

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