Data Journalism Hackathon Goes Virtual to Tackle Environmental Issues

Like most of our activities these days, the Indonesian Data Journalism Network (IDJN) took its latest hackathon online, offering dozens of journalists, graphic designers, and programmers around the country access to courses, presentations, discussions and virtual collaboration on environmental data.

IDJN is using a grant provided by Internews’ Earth Journalism Network to support data-driven environmental reporting by teams formed through this hackathon — initially scheduled as a roadshow through five different cities across Indonesia’s sprawling archipelago.

Here’s how it worked: Each participant was required to complete at least one class before joining an online discussion with trainers and classmates. They also got to hear from environmental activists in each of the regions where they were based to learn about the environmental challenges they were facing.

Classes covered basic skills in data journalism, such as how to find and analyze simple data, storytelling through data visualization, and how to mine data on the internet.

After the online discussions, participants were divided into groups and each group was asked to devise a data-driven reporting proposal and present it the following week.

Those proposals were judged based on four criteria: urgency, public interest, innovation, and feasibility. In each city, one team compromising a journalist, graphic designer and programmer was then selected by the judges to receive a reporting grant to finish their project.

The hackathon lasted two weeks, with the second week devoted to devising their projects. All projects are expected to be published by the end of this month.

“Our main challenge was related to the poor internet network among some participants,” said Wan Ulfa Nur Zuhra from IDJN. “We acknowledged this challenge before [launching] and tried to mitigate it by providing them with a small incentive for internet costs.”

The winners in each city are:

Neglected Cigarette Butts
(Irine Wardhanie, Fatma Fatima, Jonggi Andrew)
This project will discuss cigarette butt waste, which is often neglected in waste management even though this type of waste has hazardous chemicals and breaks down into microplastics that pollute the land and sea.

Threats to Porpoise Habitat in Balikpapan Bay
(Stephanie Adeline, Zakarias Danton, Syaifudin)
This report will look into how porpoise habitats in Kalimantan are threatened by boat traffic in Balikpapan Bay as well as plans to move the Indonesian capital to East Kalimantan.

Erosion on Kuta Beach
(Sigit Purwono, Robby Patria, Alessandro Pradipta)
This winning team will explore the impact of erosion on Kuta Beach, which has become an icon of tourism in Bali.

Sangkarrang Islands Sand Mine
(Lina Herlina, Royan Chandrajaya, Nurul Gaffar)
The winning group in the Makassar session will explain with data how sand mining harms local fishermen and poses other threats to the region in the future.

Madukismo Sugar Factory Waste
(Nur Hidayah Perwitasari, Andika Dianjaya, Ari Nasichuddin)
Waste from sugar factories has been a problem for years with no solution. This team will explain in more detail the  impacts on the surrounding community, covering everything from health to economics.