By Jannie Møller Hartley
In the afternoon we heard Ine Renson from the Belgium newspaper De Standaard presenting her experiences of how to include readers into your investigations. The project was to measure NO2 – a parameter of air quality (mainly traffic pollution, especially from diesel cars). They were able to show that pollution was linked to how the road was designed and street canyon effect, or if you have wind blowing in from the side. This made the air pollution dramatically different in places that were geographically close to each other. Here is what they went through – step by step:
1) The goal was to cover and collect data on pollution from the whole region – and the university (Antwerp) did the analysis of the data. People contributed by collecting data from outside their homes.
2) The journalist used this data and made an interactive tool, where you could zoom in and look at the results where they live, they named it “The biggest reality check ever”. Launching it as a huge campaign it had to become famous among a lot of people.
3) “It started with a special report on air quality – but we asked: how bad is it really? The measurement stations were placed in places, where people don’t live. Then we thought: There is no data, so we have to just find and collect the data”
4) They had no script, and they had to invent it as they went along. They found partners and collaborated with public officials and the University
5) “It was super expensive and complicated, we needed 20.000 entry points spread out over the country.”
6) “We had to make signs, manuals, deliver test tubes during a certain temperature, and you have NO guarantee of success. 96 percent of the data entries were valid.”
7) They have all the data on the website, and they published the stories over 16 pages in the newspaper.