Data journalism and the European elections

European election results chart

I’m following a Mass Open Online Course (MOOC) on data journalism organized by the European Journalism Centre at the moment. This week’s assignment required students to find four examples of data journalism and to say briefly:

  1. What does each story do?
  2. How was it created?
  3. How is it illustrated?
  4. What technologies were used to create the stories?

I thought it would be interesting to compare four different takes on the results of the 2014 European elections. Given the large amounts of data made available by the European Parliament and other sources, it was actually more difficult than I expected to find good examples. I’m sharing what I came up with below. Please let me know if you spotted other interesting uses of data to report about the elections!

“A certain idea of disunion” by The Economist

  1. The story analyses the increase in the number of seats won by anti-EU parties in the new European Parliament (from 7.5% in the previous legislature to just over 15% for the next five years).
  2. It was created using provisional results provided by the European Parliament, with a classification of “strongly Eurosceptic parties” based on the journalist’s knowledge of the parties’ position.
  3. A simple but effective infographic showing the seats won by anti-EU parties in red and other seats in blue. There is a bar chart representing the total number of seats in the entire European Parliament, comparing the 2014 results with the previous elections in 2009. For every EU country, the infographic represents each available seat with a dot (seats won by anti-EU parties shaded in red). The name of the party and the increase compared with 2009 is also indicated.
  4. Not specified.

European Parliament Elections 2014 by the Wall Street Journal

  1. The Wall Street Journal also leads with the story on the increase in support for anti-EU parties, but presents a broader analysis of the results at EU and national level for each of the main political groups represented in the European Parliament.
  2. The data is taken from national results and estimates.
  3. The breakdown at EU level and for each country is presented in the form of a half donut. There is also a map shaded according to the leading party in each country. Users can sort the country results alphabetically, by voter turnout and population.
  4. The map is created using CartoDB.

The EU elections on Twitter by the Pew Research Journalism Project

  1. This research project found that negative views about the EU prevailed on Twitter, and that the Spitzenkandidaten (the parties’ candidates for the Presidency of the European Commission) had attracted limited attention on Twitter compared to national parties and figures.
  2. The results are based on an analysis of more than 1.2 million tweets in English, French and German collected between May 1-14 (the two weeks preceding a major televised debate with the five candidates for the Commission Presidency). The data were collected using Crimson Hexagon software.
  3. The data visualization is simple but effective. Horizontal bar charts are used to present the split between negative, positive and neutral views in the English, French and German tweets. Bar charts are also used to show that anti-EU parties attracted the most attention in Twitter. A pie chart for each of the five candidates shows the percentage of positive, negative and neutral posts.
  4. The data were collected using Crimson Hexagon software. “Crimson Hexagon is a software platform that identifies statistical patterns in words used in online texts. Researchers enter key terms using Boolean search logic so the software can identify relevant material to analyze. Pew Research draws its analysis sample from all public Twitter posts. Then a researcher trains the software to classify documents using examples from those collected posts. Finally, the software classifies the rest of the online content according to the patterns derived during the training.”

European Parliament election turnout by UK Political Info

  1. This piece looks at the evolution of turnout in the UK since elections to the European Parliament were first introduced in 1979. Contrary to popular perceptions, turnout has remained remarkably stable in the UK over the last 35 years while the EU average has declined by over 15%.
  2. The story is based on data from the European Parliament.
  3. A line chart shows the evolution of turnout over time (EU average in blue, UK figures in red). There is also a table with the detailed figures for each country.
  4. Not specified.

Filed under: Digital media, EU Tagged: #EP2014, European elections 2014, journalism, MOOC, open data
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