The mass arrest of Hong Kong’s opposition figures

Country/area: Hong Kong

Organisation: South China Morning Post

Organisation size: Big

Publication date: 12/7/2021

Credit: Adolfo Arranz, Deputy Creative director;
Dennis Wong, Infographic designer, web developing;
Jeffie Lam, Correspondent;
Nadia Lam, Reporter;
Ka Kuen Lau, Infographic designer

Biography: Adolfo was previously an infographic artist at the Spanish newspaper El Mundo and the creative director for MediaCorp in Singapore. He first joined the Post in 2011. He currently helps run SCMP’s infographics and illustration department.

Dennis joined the Post as a graphic designer after working for TIME Magazine for almost two decades. His infographics focus on local and regional developments.

Jeffie leads the Hong Kong politics team at the Post. She joined the paper in 2013. She has previously been a recipient of the Human Rights Press Awards and the Hong Kong News Awards.

Project description:

After two years of protests in Hong Kong, the local bureau and graphics team of the South China Morning Post aimed to showcase all the relevant figures arrested by the Hong Kong government.

Impact reached:

We published a digital standalone and a print version. Both were received with great interest by readers, particularly on how the information is presented in the digital version, which allows them to interact and discover who is among the detainees. The print version, even showing less detailed information, had a significant impact on social networks, perhaps because the size of the arrests is understood at a glance. More than 600,000 impressions were reached on Twitter alone.

Techniques/technologies used:

For this investigation, all the data was collected manually through the reports of the SCMP, other Hong Kong media outlets and the Hong Kong Police.

What was the hardest part of this project?

We had photos of each affected person for the visual composition, and the story told by them. Still, each picture was of different sources, dimensions, colours, and resolutions, so using them in a project would remove some aesthetics from the narrative. For us, composition and design are essential. So we decided to illustrate the whole, making portraits of all the politicians and activists involved. In such a way, the plan would be more consistent. The main idea for the narration was to present it with some mystery and allow the reader to play and discover who is who, while hovering over the dark figures, with a spotlight illuminating the person involved and showing the relevant information. This visual solution tries to play metaphorically as the prison lights to monitor the arrested.

So the most significant technical problem was to carry out this visualization, which was solved using Javascript libraries such as JQuery and D3 and taking great care with the labelling of the illustrated plates with more than one hundred detainees.

We also made a print version for the paper edition. We used a simple colour code to show their situation and the name of each arrested.

What can others learn from this project?

For us, the exciting thing about this learning is that you can work on attractive and stimulating projects, even with a limited team in terms of technology.

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