DC Thomson data journalism team scoops international media award

DC Thomson data journalism team scoops international media award

DC Thomson’s data journalism team has won an international media award for its investigation into the health of Scotland’s city centres.

The team was awarded the Best Data Visualisation award at the WAN-IFRA Digital Media Awards Europe 2024, honouring European news publishers whose projects and products showcase creativity, inspiration, and service to their readers.

WAN-IFRA recognised DC Thomson for its community mapping project featured in The Courier and The Press and Journal.

With many businesses in Scotland’s city centres coping with a new shopping world – a world that has dealt with lockdown and continues to experience issues such as rising fuel costs, inflation, and the constant fight with online giants – the data journalism team decided to investigate the health of high streets in Dundee, Aberdeen, Inverness and Perth. They then meticulously examined nearly 2,000 units across these cities through in-person visits to provide authentic and up-to-date data for their interactive high street trackers.

They found that on average, these cities’ high streets have a vacancy rate of 17.28% and shopping centres sit with just under a fifth of units vacant (19.91%).

The team keep track of the changes to these streets and shopping centres long term and produces regular reports on the changing state of shopping districts, keeping their fingers on the pulse of the city centre economies.

The project’s comprehensive approach, which combined structured data with compelling visualisations and empathetic storytelling, earned praise from the WAN-IFRA judges. They commended the team for their ability to transform data into engaging narratives that resonate with local communities.

The judges commented: “This project is a great example of data journalism for local newspapers. Data visualisation formats are varied and well done. DC Thomson was able to offer the same approach in several cities and managed to combine this data with human stories. It’s proof that newsrooms can produce structured data, turn it into engaging visualisations as well as transform it into empathic stories.”

Lesley-Anne Kelly, head of data journalism at DC Thomson added: “We were up against some really serious, hard-hitting journalism in these awards so to say we’re in shock is an understatement. This project involved a lot of manual data gathering by the team, so we’re thrilled to get some recognition for it.

The data team, Lesley-Anne Kelly, Emma Morrice and Ema Sabljak, will now go forward to the 2024 Digital Media World Awards competing against winners from other continents.

You can see all the other winners here.