Data Journalism Awards past winner focus: The Migrant Files

migrant files nicolas kayser bril

The Data Journalism Awards organised by the Global Editor’s Network (GEN) showcase some of the best data journalism every year. Here we take a look at past winners in anticipation for this year’s awards.

In August 2013, Nicolas Kayser Bril, a French data journalist and CEO of Journalism ++, started The Migrant Files project along with 15 other European journalists in order to document the rising migrant death toll at the gates of Europe. The project was a response to the lack of official monitoring of migrant deaths on their journey west to safety.

“We started building our database based on information from NGOs that had done a terrific amount of work on the topic already,” said Kayser-Bril.

So the team extracted and aggregated data from open sources to build the database that would allow them to track each of the migrants dying everyday around Europe and the coast of Africa.

The data is visualised on a bubble map that indicates the number of dead migrants in Europe and Africa. The user gets information on the number of refugees and migrants that died between 2000 and 2015 by clicking on a specific spot in the map.

A detailed explanation of the project can be found on the same website under the article “counting the dead.” The team still updates the information and has since written another article on the amount of money the European Union spends to keep migrants out.

Kayser-Bril said that the map was still being updated to this day and that he and his team will not stop until international organisations like the UNHCR start doing the work themselves.

The jury described the project as an “excellent example of journalists intervening to put a largely neglected issue on the political agenda […] this is data journalism at its best. We need more projects like these.”

Kayser-Bril said it was a nice feeling to have the project recognised by peers.

And as for the data journalist awards? “They’re a great opportunity to review what has been done in a given year.”

Currently, Kayser-Bril is working on several cross-border investigations where “we follow the same goal of measuring the unmeasured.” One of them is The Football Tax, which measures the flows of public money spent on professional football. The other project is Rentwatch, which measures the prices of rent everywhere in Europe.

If you are a data journalist who wants to submit a project, the submission deadline is 10 April 2016. This year’s ceremony will take place at Vienna City Hall on 16 June.

Interhacktives is proud media partner of the DJAs.





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Cristina is a candidate for an MA in Interactive Journalism at City University London and a junior reporter. Cristina was born in Costa Rica but raised in Washington D.C. She's fluent in Spanish, French, English, and Portuguese. Her language skills come in handy when reporting on the hispanic community in the U.S or translating a story into a different language for a wire service. Over her college career, Cristina interned at NPR for Morning Edition and wrote for community newspapers in Fairfax County.Since graduating with a bachelor's degree in Political Science and Film and Media Studies, Cristina has worked at KQED - the NPR affiliate in Northern California - worked on stories for the Mission Local and Homemade News Podcast. Thus, she's worked in radio, print and social media. Cristina is now living in London.

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