How We Made the DACA Project: From the Youth Radio Interactive Team

02.06.18
American University students protest President Donald Trump's decision to end DACA outside the White House in September 2017. Photo: Melany Love Rochester, The Eagle

DACA, which stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is one of the biggest news stories of 2018. Youth Radio–alongside pretty much every major news outlet— is busy covering the program’s uncertain future.

But this is a different kind of DACA post. Here, we share a behind-the-scenes look at what it took for a group of young people at Youth Radio to create two interactives that used data to highlight what’s at stake for young people at risk of losing DACA’s protections. They researched, designed, and coded these interactives–from scratch.


What’s a part of your interactive you’re proud of?

Elsa Guta: One of my favorite parts of our site was “The Current State of DACA,” because it notifies whoever will be looking on this website what DACA is, why it was created, and how it benefits people. Another reason that I like this part is because of the bubble sheet on the side that lets you know where all the people who use DACA come from. The circles are scaled to the size of how many people come from each country.”

 

What’s a challenge you faced making the interactive?  

Valencia White: One problem I faced while making this website was finding reliable sources and doing research. In the beginning stages of this website, we originally were going to use a different source for finding the number of people in DACA and how many people would lose it over the years. Using that source, it took me about a week to do all of the math for the data visualization. But we later found out that we couldn’t use that data. This was difficult. We solved this problem when we eventually found a better source for data. Even though it was frustrating, I knew it would be better to use a source that had reliable data.

What surprised you about the process?

Shanya Williams: The most surprising thing that I experienced while working on the DACA website was how hard it was for my team to agree on colors. To this day, the website still has colors that make ⅔ of us snicker!

Any advice for other young people who want to learn to code?

SW: I advise you to take a lot of breaks and drink water because a lot of confusion and problems surface when you’re staring at the same thing on the same computer for five hundred years. When you start to feel like you’re going in circles, stand up and actually walk around in a circle. Because surprisingly, in a way, coding is like exercise. It works out your brain muscles, and just like a leg or arm muscle, you have to work it out, but then rest, and then work it out again, and then rest. I believe that your website or app will turn out way better if you take the time and mental space to think about the thing you are building. Also, it will save you time and mental health, because you probably will not be traveling in circles of the same ideas.

VW: Some advice I would give to someone wanting to code is that if you have a problem, ask someone. It’s really easy to get stuck on something while coding and give up. Instead of just giving up, ask for help, because it’s going to feel so much better to just solve the problem.

EG: For younger people who want to code, my advice is to be open-minded and ready to take in a  lot of knowledge. Be ready to fail multiple times, and don’t get frustrated. Just erase and start again, until you get it right. Nobody’s perfect!

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