PULSE #5 ❤ Open Data Stories

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Starting yesterday the European Union parliament elections kicked off. People have already cast their votes in the UK and the Netherlands with the majority of the EU countries voting this Sunday. With the populists on the rise across the continent, the potential risk of the far-right uniting to try and sabotage the European project from the inside is real. That is why I have decided to focus on a selection of interactive stories that concern Europe in this newsletter. 

Before starting working for the Outriders, I used to work with civic technology and open data projects, and Jakub managed ePaństwo, an open data/ transparency NGO. That is how we met. No wonder, there is a special place in our heart and minds for stories based on open data. When I attended the Data Journalism Awards ceremony during the GEN Summit in Athens last week, I was especially excited about the projects shortlisted in the Open Data category. So I have decided to shine some light on all of them in this week’s newsletter.

These stories have all been conducted in a spirit of openness, meaning that they are mostly made using open source tools, which you can now take and use for your work. The data they base on is open: it was extracted from documents and closed-up government files using legal tools (such as FOIA request) or sorted manually but has now been cleaned, structured and is free (in a commercial but also metaphorical sense) to use for everyone.

There are many stories covered by data, and so too often without getting journalists involved, they don’t get enough attention. It is why it is crucial that the projects below have been conducted by media, mainly in large collaborations. Fingers crossed for their long life and social impact!

All the geeks, techies, and the lovers of numbers – this is something for you. Enjoy :). 


The majority of the far-right rhetoric in Europe and elsewhere, even in countries that do not really suffer from the constant influx of migrants (such as, e.g. Poland) focuses on the topic of migration and the so-called “others”. The rest of the stories tend to analyse European political climate from the meta-perspective expressing implicit worries for the so-called “European project” (not inclusive of the entire continent which is important to note).

Europe slams its gates

This story by Foreign Policy carefully depicts five stories of different countries dealing with emigration and migration – it starts in Mali, Niger, Libya, and Senegal to eventually finish in Germany where European leaders make decisions and navigate the political consequences of demographic changes.

Migrant body count

This Guardian’s article is telling a story of those who died trying to migrate to Europe. It compares the count of different deaths – those at sea and on land, in detention centres, prisons, and camps – and places them on an interactive map. It is a data-driven story, but it doesn’t try to be an exhaustive one, but rather a tribute to the 34,361 deaths recorded by a Dutch NGO called United for Intercultural Action. The story was published on a World Refugee Day.

The migrant trail through the Instagrams of refugees

This story comes from the New Yorker, and it features Instagram pictures uploaded by the refugees along their migrant trail – from Turkey, through Greece up to the Jungle Camp in France. The Belgian photographer Tomas van Houtryve juxtaposes these “digital crumbs” with the short videos he recorded in each of the depicted places. He says that he “discovered that many refugees emphasized not the suffering of their journey but moments that were joyous, triumphant, and even amusing.” I only wonder if that is not the Instagram framework – for what moments do you share with your friends if not the ones that make you feel better, wherever you are.

How far is Europe swinging to the right

Another story from across the pond, this time the New York Times focuses on the changes in the European political landscape: “Amid a migrant crisis, economic inequality, growing disillusionment with the European Union and a sense of lost national identity, right-wing parties in a growing number of European countries have made electoral gains. The right-wing parties included below range across a wide policy spectrum, from populist and nationalist to far-right neofascist.” What is there to add? Maybe that the story is firm on its narrative part and was last updated in October of 2017.

Europe’s shift right

The last story by Reuters presents a different way of portraying the shifts on the political spectrum – it is a very data-driven and highly interactive approach. If you are an analysis nerd, this is something for you.

If you have recently read or simply remember a great interactive story concerning the topic of the European continent, European Union or else – please share it with us. 

Outriders Network

The last time you heard from me was just before our small event for Polish media working with/ or thinking about engaging more with their communities. The meeting was actually a part of a more comprehensive European program – Engaged Journalism Accelerator which Outriders (and I specifically) are the ambassadors in. I was in Berlin yesterday discussing what we have learned with other new media organizations in Europea at the #EELive19 meeting organized by the European Journalism Center. 

Otherwise, I am in a scoping phase looking forward to outlining the new Outriders Network season (including the upcoming Outriders Stage – formerly Outriders Summit), but this one isn’t done just yet. We still have a workshop in Armenia coming up at the end of this month (June 29th). After that – look out for the summary of the first season, we have much exciting news to share about what happened and what is to come.


Our community event for travellers who tell stories about the world – Wachlarz – took place last Saturday in Wrocław, Poland. We had a record number of tickets sold – 500 participants showed up.

In the meantime, Outriders Brief continues to come out regularly, and our newsroom is working on more stories to share with you – these stories include two solutions journalism articles which will be published around this fall. Stay tuned.

That is it for now, enjoy all the data I shared with you and – the summer!