Data journalism is one of the topics we have been continuously following along our journey, but we never had the opportunity to visit a newsroom yet. This finally happened last week with our meeting at La NaciÃ³n in Buenos Aires. Belonging to the oldest newspapers in Argentina, La NaciÃ³n has been pioneering in technology in the last years: it is not only one of the first newspapers launching its online edition in 1995, but also it counts with a dedicated and passionate team focusing their work on Open Data. This fact is actually what brought us there.
La NaciÃ³n Data (LNData) was founded as an internal section in 2010 with the aim to use and promote the power of Open Data for journalistic purposes. They created their own Open Data platform where users can find and download numerous datasets which contain valuable information relating the argentinian citizens. As Digital Media Researcher Flor Coelho explained us, there is a huge effort behind each collection of data released on the platform. Relevant numbers, as those showing the dramatic variation of the inflation rates, cannot be found in such an usable form in other sources.
Â Their efforts have been already acknowledged through several Data Journalism Awards, such as the Online Journalism Award of the University of Miami and GEN‘s Data Journalism Award. The latter, received in 2013 for their project â€œGastos del Senado 2004-2013â€. By extracting and analysing the data from over 33.000 scanned documents downloaded from governmental sites, the investigation team could find out several and major irregularities involving public funds. We invite you to watch the video below to get more detailed information.
After the impact of such results, and having still a big amount of documents to analyse, LNData did not stop there and had the genius idea to encourage citizens to participate in the investigation process. This is how VozData got created, a platform where everyone can help gathering information from those remaining papers. Since its launch, over 350 citizens have engaged themselves freeing the data from more than 3400 scanned documents. The goal is to turn the contents into useful data, giving the possibility to analyse it accurately thus bringing transparency on how public money is being used. A reason big enough to motivate users to invest their time on this collaborative challenge. The code of the site will be released as Open Source as soon as the last features get implemented and bugs fixed.
Another example of the great work LNData does in the field of Data journalism is the research on the number of casualties due to the floods that stroke the city of La Plata on the 2nd of April 2013. An efficient analysis and visualisation of the information contained in death records revealed more victims than the public authorities announced first. The publication of the results led to a review of the official number of deaths.
Besides their journalistic research, LNData puts lots of efforts on advocating for Open Data, sharing their experience with others. Events are regularly organised, not only intern trainings but also public workshops and conferences such as the Datafest. With an upcoming third edition taking place in October 2014, this will be fantastic opportunity for journalists and communication experts, developers, designers and everyone interested on the topic to exchange, learn and bring out new ideas. Save the date if you happen to be in Buenos Aires!