Plus Desk creates impressive and in-depth web journalism as a part of News and Current Affairs at Finnish Broadcasting Company (Yle). We specialize in data journalism, visual feature stories, and interactive articles.
Currently we have 7 people in the team: two developers, three graphic designers and two producers.
Our way of doing stories is by networking within the newsroom. Even though we all are journalists we don’t have so called traditional reporters in the team. We do all our stories in cooperation with the editorial teams in the newsroom. When covering economy we team up with our economics reporter(s) and when dealing with foreign affairs we do the story with our foreign news team.
This model of working has two advances. First, it gives us the possibility to cover a large variety of topics – from elections to sports and from culture to business. Also, in this way we are able to spread word about data journalistic thinking and methods across the newsroom.
Our portfolio: plus.yle.fi
What makes this project innovative?
Plus Desk was founded in january 2013. Since then we have brought data journalism, interactive and visual web storytelling to the everyday life of news and current affairs at Finnish Broadcasting Company (Yle). Currently Yle has the fourth most visited news site in Finland with 3,3 million monthly visitors. Our innovativeness is made of two main factors: - Large variety of methods - from quick ways of presenting day-to-day data in news to large data gathering and visualizations. - There is also a philosophical level in innovativeness: from early on, treat and call everyone a journalist. This is particularly important in legacy newsrooms where people are only starting to learn how work with developers. You have to make the reporters know that the people in the data team are not the IT department but are there to make journalism just as everyone else. This is how we use data in our journalism 1. To to give readers more understanding on a topic. - Which is better for you, summer time or daylight saving time? https://yle.fi/uutiset/3-10433418 - Can you get past through the best goalkeepers of football? https://yle.fi/urheilu/3-10295932 2. Gather large amount of data and find news or personalize it - How has climate changed where you live and how does the future look like? https://yle.fi/uutiset/3-10700289 - We examined 300 000 apartment deals from five years and made a story customized for you: https://yle.fi/uutiset/3-10445001 3. Gamify the data story - Based on studies, what increases your risk of breakup: https://yle.fi/uutiset/3-10471586 - “My year of being poor” is a journalism-based game where the reader takes on the role of a jobless, single parent in Finland: https://yle.fi/uutiset/3-10509829 4. Use automation when examining source material - We examined the convictions of child molestation from two years in Finland and made an interactive for users: https://yle.fi/uutiset/3-10665414
What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?
In 2018 Plus Desk published 148 stories. We measure the impact of the stories by the time the readers spend in the stories. In the best case we have a large audience that spends lots of time browsing the story. That tells us that the story has been meaningful. Public debate both in social media and traditional media is another way of measuring impact. Our stories usually generate lots of reactions and discussions in social media. And, for example, young people have made YouTube videos about playing our gamified stories Members of the team are known speakers in the field. They regularly make presentations and arrange workshops in Finland and internationally. Plus Desk has also received awards on national and Scandinavian level. We have won prizes in best statistical story in Finland, Nordic data journalism awards and Scandinavian news design awards.
Source and methodology
We use large variety of data. Public open data of statistics official in Finland, data banks of different authorities and companies, scraping websites, optical character recognition from documents, making freedom of information requests and collecting our own data through questionnaires.
HTML5, JS, React, jQuery, Python, R, QGIS, Excel, Google spreadsheets (to mention a few)
Eemeli Martti, developer Joel Kanerva, developer Stina Tuominen, graphic designer Eetu Pietarinen, graphic designer Juha Rissanen, graphic designer Mika Pippuri, producer Juho Salminen, producer / head of the desk