RTL Nieuws is one of the largest news organizations in The Netherlands. We produce daily news broadcasts across two tv channels, as well as online journalism across several websites and social media platforms.
Within the investigative team at RTL Nieuws, two data journalists work full time to produce hard-hitting news stories using data and DDJ techniques, as well as innovative, interactive tools, maps and graphics.
We have a broad audience, with viewers and readers throughout the country, with different ages, education levels and family situations. Because of this, we focus on subjects that are of interest to large parts of the Dutch population. Prime subject areas include healthcare, safety, education and personal finance.
The stories we submitted in this portfolio:
– School quality: We analyzed standardized testing scores for every primary school in The Netherlands (over 6.000), correcting for the different backgrounds of the student population. This gives a good insight into the quality of education at each school. Our method has piqued the interest of the Dutch Ministry of Education.
– Environmental noise: We correlated an environmental noise map by the Dutch public health service to a dataset of every residential address and compared the resulting noise levels with new WHO guidelines. This way we found out that noise levels are at an unhealthy level for more than a third of all homes.
– Burglaries near motorways: analysis of open police data showed that burglaries are much more prevalent near motorways. Police confirmed this theory.
– Social housing: scraping the websites of social housing agencies, we were able to show that waitlists for social housing are extremely long. The average new tenant in the past year had been registered with the social housing agency for almost nine years. In some cities, the average was over twenty years.
– Provincial roads: We analyzed traffic accidents on provincial (secondary) roads in The Netherlands and gave all of them a star rating based on their safety (using a home-made model). Our research showed that these roads are the most dangerous in the country. They comprise only six percent of roads in The Netherlands, yet twenty percent of traffic deaths occur on these roads. Road maintenance was severely underfunded.
– Traffic accidents near schools: Using traffic accident data and a questionnaire sent to Dutch schools, we found out that nine out of ten schools experience traffic safety issues. In the past three years, more than 10.000 accidents happened in the immediate vicinity of a school.
– Healthcare cost differences: we requested health insurance data and found out that there are large differences in healthcare costs for children across neighborhoods. Overall, we found that children who grow up in poorer areas are less healthy. These differences start at birth: healthcare costs for babies can differ by as much as 1000 euros per child per year between neighborhoods.
What makes this project innovative?
What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?
Our goal of creating useful news stories for our viewers and readers is demonstrably successful: our data tools generate a lot of interaction and shares on social media as well as positive feedback from users. It also has an impact on the rest of our newsroom: other journalists at RTL Nieuws see what's possible with data and are keen to learn how to use these techniques in their own reporting.
Source and methodology