Schibsted’s Norwegian newspaper VG was founded by the resistance shortly after the Second World War. In 2015, 75 years had past since the German occupation of Norway and VG wanted to mark this with a very special project – to map out everyone that had died on the Norwegian side in the war, who they were and how they died.
A lot of the basic data were already there, but VG summoned it up from several sources and constructed a digital presentation that was clear and structured. They used data journalism to track information and constructed tools to search and withdraw specific facts from large contexts. Picture recognition became an important tool to match portraits from a scanned book about the fallen heroes, published by the Norwegian state.
The result was a story which listed all Norwegians that had died on the allied side or as accidental victims in the Second World War. Almost everyone of the 11 893 names is connected to a place and a cause of death. Most of them have a photo and a biography. All ship losses are placed on a map.
”The Norwegian victims of the Second World War” is an example of how to use digital tools and platforms to tell a story in a new way. It became a presentation from which the readers can learn a lot – even those who knew much from start.
The result was also better official war statistics. VG readers also helped improving facts when recognizing individuals and correcting errors. This mapping is also the first taking the Norwegian Romanies in account as victims of the war. In the 30’s they were robbed of their citizenship and abolished from the country, many of them died in Auschwitz.
The story was the most read at VG in 2015 and it was awarded Schibsted Journalism Award 2016, in the category Best Innovative Entry. This is the jury’s motivation:
“In the Second World War more than 11 000 Norwegians were killed in concentration camps and at sea during Germany’s occupation of Norway. Utilizing the power of digital storytelling, VG decided to collect and complete the historical facts, creating an eternal monument over the victims by documenting their destiny and deaths.”
Watch the nominee video: