The last strunghold
Category: Innovation (small and large newsrooms)
Organisation size: Big
Publication date: 9 Apr 2019
Credit: Samuel Granados, Sarah Slobin, Matthew Weber, Ellen Francis
After eight years of war in Syria and hundreds of thousands of deaths, the northwest corner is the only rebel stronghold that remains. President Bashar al Assad’s government and his allies have bombed front lines, along with markets, bakeries, schools and hospitals, the United Nations says. Hundreds of thousands have fled toward the border with Turkey and are now between the violent front line and a concrete border wall. This project relies on data to show how fires have been used to siege millions trapped in this corner of Syria.
The project had an important impact in our audience despite being published in August, a month traditionally low for news. It drove also a lot of attention on Syria in a moment in which there was little space in media for the Syrian civil war.
The project waives a different set of media assets into a fluid scrolly narrative. Map based data visualization is combined with satellite imagery to make clear the main point the team wanted to explain: a siege is occurring and nearly three million Syrians have nowhere to flee. Photo and video assets drive attention to the harsh realities that strikes, and burns are having on civilians. QGis was used to plot the maps and Adobe Illustrator to edit those, then ai2html was used to generate the different art boards for the site. A front-end combination of html, js and css helped to waive everything into a fluid immersive narrative.
What was the hardest part of this project?
Data storytelling was the core piece of the puzzle necessary to understand and drive the whole project, visually and narratively, while helping to contextualize the sense of urgency.
What can others learn from this project?
Data can be used to tell human stories, not only by counting, measuring or locating assets on a grid, but it can also be a powerful tool to inform and communicate what peoples’ life look like.