They often say data journalism is a more objective kind of journalism. Is it really? We wanted to try it out and use data to combat prejudices that exist about migration. For this, we organised #ddjcamp: a data journalism training + hackathon where 60 journalists, developers and designers gathered from 11 countries.

Everybody pitched a story or an angle they would like to focus on when reporting on migration, and this is how the teams were formed. We built the training schedule to provide the necessary skills and resources for participants to conduct a data-driven story about migration.

During the camp, the stories evolved in parallel with the skill-building process: from finding the data to communicating it in a journalism piece. The balance between training sessions and hands-on work on projects ensured that the newly acquired knowledge was applied to practice straight away and could be replicated in the future.

We also agreed with national European media houses that they would send a young journalist from their newsroom to the training and in return, will publish the story of his/her team. Let us tell you what came out of it.

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Stereotype one: ‘Refugees flee in search of a better life’

Reality: The team that worked on this stereotype compared the data on IDP (internally displaced people) and refugees (those who flee the country) with the data on armed conflicts and terrorist attacks in the cities to find a correlation. In their investigation, they draw attention to the unreported case of Yemen, where the escalation of the conflict has created horrible conditions for the civilian population, but it is nearly impossible to flee the country. Read, why this is so in the story published by Texty, Ukraine (EN).

A visualisation sketch for the Texty article by trainer Gianna Gruen

Stereotype two: Just build the borders properly and the refugee crisis will stop

Reality: This team came to the conclusion that despair and war push people to leave their countries of origin. Thus, increasing the security and decreasing the rescue teams only means that more people will die on their way to Europe. Read the story published in Spiegel Online, Germany (EN).

Stereotype three: Refugees are scary

Reality: In Latvia, people are not afraid of migrants from the former Soviet Union. Those outnumber the migrants from the Middle East and Africa. In fact, people are just afraid of the unknown. To read more about this, check out the story published in Delfi, Latvia (LV).

Stereotype four: There are too many refugees for our country

Reality: Refugees who come to Montenegro, actually do not stay there and do not apply for the asylum. Read the full story published in Vijesti, Montenegro (ME).

Stereotype five: Refugees commit more crimes

Reality: Not only do they not commit more crimes, but there is a huge spike in crimes against refugees (established thanks to Die Zeit data)! Read the full story published by Dennik N, Slovakia (SK).

Participants of #ddjcamp visiting data newsroom at Die Zeit with Sascha Venohr

Stereotype six: Migrants are stealing our jobs

Reality: In Italy, it is easier for migrants to get a low-skilled job than a high-skilled job, regardless of the level of their education. This means migrants are taking the jobs that locals do not want. Read the story published in L’Espresso, Italy (IT).

Stereotype seven: Migrants are ‘kebab technicians

Reality: In Denmark, migrants take more and more high-skilled positions thanks to their integration into the education system. Read why in the story published by Mandag Morgen, Denmark (DK).

Stereotype eight: Migrants enjoy nice life and social benefits

Reality: In Armenia, 90% of those who ask for asylum, get rejected. This is more than in neighbouring Azerbaijan and Georgia. Read why in the story published by HETQ, Armenia (EN).

Participants present their projects to each other halfway through the training

Our takeaways for you:

We shared the detailed schedule and training materials and a blog on our website.

If you are working in media: bring innovation into your newsroom through hackathons and training. Engage in building the external community. This way, you can harness the power of talented people from different backgrounds and may find future employees.

If you are a journalist: get inspired by data as we did. There are plenty resources online to work on your skills, but the best thing is to find a team and engage in a real life project. We wanted #ddjcamp to be this safe space where people can try things out and work together.

If you are an NGO: support projects like #ddjcamp – they enhance cross-disciplinary work and create synergies. We would be interested in scaling up the model of #ddjcamp. If you have ideas, please contact us via anastasiya.valeeva(at)  

#ddjcamp was a data journalism training that took place in Berlin from 12 to 20 November 2016. The project was organized by European Youth Press – a network of young media makers and run by Nika Aleksejeva and Anastasia Valeeva. The core funding was Erasmus+ grant provided by the German National Agency “Jugend in Aktion”.