The pain of Belgians (“La douleur des belges” in french)

Category: Best visualization (small and large newsrooms)

Country/area: Belgium

Organisation: https://medor.coop/

Organisation size: Small

Publication date: 9 Feb 2019

Credit: Olivier Bailly , Karim Douieb

Project description:

Fentanil, Tramadol, Oxycontin, mean anything to you? In 2018, there has been more then one million Belgian who took, at least once, one of these highly addictive opioid based painkiller. Médor is showing you the cartography of the Belgans in pain. This investigation is aiming at sound an alarm on a possible health crisis in Belgium. 

The original article was written in French and has been translated in English for this specific submission. 

Impact reached:

The article provides a clean and objective way to look at the situation of opioid consumption in Belgium. The story has been driven by the data and the insights extracted from it, not so much from the journalists. We believe the greatest impact this story had on people was simply to provided awareness on an potential health issue. We also collected some testimonies from people trapped in prescription opioid painkiller treatment, this story showed them they were not alone in their pain. 

Techniques/technologies used:

This work was twofold:  

  • Cleaning, aggregation, and treatment of the data was performed in javascript using ObservableHQ notebooks. This is providing a great way to replicate and document the data treatment pipelines in full transparency. 
  • The webpage has been developped in React (javascript framework). The visuals were fully implemented in D3.js and the scrollytelling functionality was provided by a react adaptation of scrollama. 

What was the hardest part of this project?

The hardest part of this project was to fight a priori and really based the story line on facts extracted from the data. This data was provided by the major heathcare mutuality in Belgium which had genuine concerns about the opioid consumption situation. We think our article echo these concerns amongst a larger audiance in much more engaging manner. 

What can others learn from this project?

Datavisualisation is pretty new in the news world. We would love to share to other news rooms (especially small ones) how we approached the construction of a story based on data and heavily relying on graphical elements to provides comprehensive insights to the readers. 

Project links:

medor-opioids.s3-website-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/ (Translation in english of the original publication)

medor.coop/nos-series/la-douleur-des-belges/opioides-datavisualisations/ (Original publication in French)