Playlist and location of the phone interceptions used by prosecutor Nisman to charge the former argentina President

>>> Live Link <<<

I. AUDIO DIGITAL STORYTELLING

a) The journalism behind this project includes: 
-A terrorist attack in the argentine jewish association, AMIA, 1994
-Hidden negotiations between former argentine President, Cristina Kirchner and the Government of Iran, to guarantee the innocence of the iranian accused in exchange of restoring commercial relationships
-Alberto Nisman, a Federal Prosecutor investigating the AMIA attack was found dead 3 days after accusing the President Cristina Kirchner of covering up Iran and hours before sustaining his arguments in the National Congress. 
-A 2 year crowdsourcing effort to listen + 40.000 phone interceptions used by Nisman as main evidence of his investigation. The creation of a database from scratch with the 200 most important and relevant audios. The publication of those recordings in a interactive visualization.
-Recently, the judge Claudio Bonadio ordered that Cristina Kirchner should be held with preemptive prison, but her post as a Senator provides her with congressional immunity. It will be up to the senators to vote in favour of stripping her privileges.

b) The uniqueness and originality of voice: the visualization includes 200 audios tapped from the direct suspects and related actors phone conversations. The audience will be able to follow the character’s stories told in first person by them. You don’t nead a transcription, you just need to follow the different plots by listening to their own storytelling and references.

c) Overall production quality: design, interactivity and related information of each character, theme and location offers an oustanding user experience for our audience.

d) Innovative use of storytelling techniques: the app has Spotify style playlists to listen and navigate by person, by subjetc or location. When a new event occurs during the court investigations, the app allows to select a special playlist to embed in lanacion.com’s article. (E.G. One suspect visit courts to defend himself, there is an article referring to that event, and we embed the playlist related to that person)

e) creativity being brought to bear to tell stories that are truly of digital and mobile platforms: thee main power of the investigation project is digital. Online interactivity is the king of our project. You can choose your area of interest to explore and listen to the specific playlist. You can turn on speakers, or put on headphones or be running or driving while listening to a selected playlist that will play one audio after the other in a chronological order unless the user decides to skip files or fastfoward to a highlighted audiowave.

Publication Date: January 18 th, 2018 (Third anniversary of Prosecutor Nisman death)

II. THE WHOLE PROJECT. 

Team: + 100 considering staff and volunteers.

Introduction:

We transformed a valuable and extensive journalistic investigation into a interactive audio digital storytelling regarding a subject that created a huge public controversy and disputes in the argentine society. The project involved a database of 40,345 audio recordings from a tapped phone that the former prosecutor Alberto Nisman, investigating the AMIA terrorist attack, used as evidence to charge the former argentinian President, Cristina Kirchner, iranian agents and other government authorities. The Prosecutor “committed suicide” 2 days after accusing the ruling President, and a day before to presenting his acussation in National Congress.

The investigation involved a closed network of 120 volunteers that helped us with the hearing and classification of the 986 hours of audio. It took years of analysis to fulfill the objectives and create a visualization that can be navigated through three different tabs:

  1. Map: location where the phone call took place or a specific site that was mentioned

  2. Person: the people who spoke during the phone call or those who where mentioned.

  3. Topic: the subject of the phone call

The idea was to create a unique and original platform similar to Spotify’s user experience. Each tab has different files that work as independent playlists that can be heard continuously. The application allows the user to interact with the primary source of information while having the chance to choose from different filters and personalize the selection.

Each audio was uploaded entirely to avoid complains that they were edited to reach conclusions. We highlighted the most relevant parts of the conversations to facilitate the listening, and each person and topic playlist has an extended information link within the app.

To reuse the platform for future reporting regarding Nisman Case trial updates, any playlist of the app can be embedded as a single playlist in an article.

The Detailed Story:

Argentina, July 1994, a massive bomb explodes in front of the AMIA, a jewish center in Buenos Aires. The attack kills 85 people and injures 300.

After a long process of investigation, in 2006, a judge orders an international arrest warrant for the accused, most of them members of the iranian government. Immediately, INTERPOL issues red notices to assist the national police forces.
The Argentine government repeatedly demands that the accused be put on trial, but Iran refuses to comply.

Then, in January 2013, the Argentine demand for justice takes an unexpected turn during Cristina Kirchner’s presidency, when a Memorandum of Understanding is signed with Iran to jointly investigate the attack.

The prospect of working with Iran when those accused in the attack were members of the Iranian government creates huge public controversy and disputes in the Argentine Congress.

In January of 2015, Alberto Nisman, the special prosecutor investigating the terrorist attack, charges Cristina Kirchner and other Argentine authorities with orchestrating a criminal plan with Iran. Nisman claims that the argentine government intended to cancel the Interpol red notices and guarantee the innocence of the iranian accused, with the objective of restoring commercial relationships with Iran.

Three days after making public his accusation and hours before Nisman is due to testify in Congress, he is found dead in his apartment. Some claim he committed suicide, while others say it was clearly murder and march through the streets demanding justice. This march was called “the march of Silence”.

Nisman’s accusation  about the AMIA attack was dismissed multiple times by different judges during Cristina Kirchner’s presidency. Finally, in December of 2016, with new president Macri in power, the case reopens.

The main evidence that Nisman collected to support his accusation were 40,354 audio recordings from a tapped phone owned by Yussuff Khalil, an Iranian agent in Buenos Aires. 

The evidence leaked and several media outlets published the whole database or some individual recordings. But in La Nación Data, we decided to combine technology and collaborative work, to take on the classification and analysis of every single audio.To get possible full stories with a combination of audios that could help increase the verisimilitude of the Prosecutor’s hypothesis, put them in context, or even, find and tell new stories.

The News Application:

On january of 2017 we first published the platform with 200 audios and only two filters (persons and topics). But we couldn’t give up because we new that there were more stories and findings to discover.

On september of 2017 when Gerardo Pollicita, the new and actual prosecutor of the case, was officially required to investigate, he provided a legal document to judge Bonadio where he enlarged Nisman’s hypothesis and corroborated that that the locations mentioned during the phone-calls were real. To do this, he marked the telephone cells in a map, using the information of the Dirección de Asistencia Judicial en Delitos Complejos (DAJUDECO).

The cells marked by the prosecutor to corroborate the locations

In addition, this did not only emphasize Nisman’s hypothesis but also increased the value of the investigation and confirmed that the accused where actually trying to guarantee the innocence of the iranian accused in the terrorist attack in exchange for commercial opening.

So, for the 3 year anniversary of Nisman’s death, the 17th of january of 2018, we decided to add more audios in the app and classify all of them by location. This meant hearing most of the audios again and classify them by different geographic points on a map.

Each point on the map opens a playlist with audios related to that specific location. The map is concentrated in Buenos Aires but has a secondary option on the left to choose other countries that were mentioned in the audios.

The Collaborative Investigation:

The audios were leaked and several media outlets published the whole database or some individual recordings. But in La Nación Data, we decided to combine technology and collaborative work, to take on the classification and analysis of every single audio. 40.354 in total. To get possible full stories with a combination of audios that could help increase verisimilitude to the Prosecutor’s hypothesis, put them in context,  or even, find and tell new stories.

First, we tried using machine learning techniques and voice analytics without any success.

So we chose to rely on VozData platform, an open source web app that La Nación developed with the support of Open News and Civicus Alliance. (Open Source: Crowdata)

We uploaded the audios in two phases, and users started listening and organizing them based on established categories.

All in all, the entire project involved two years of classification and more than 120 closed network trusted volunteers from different universities, NGO’s, countries and backgrounds.

Most of the work was done remotely. But we also encouraged the users to participate in four civic marathons that were held at La Nación, which we called Audiothons, hoping to share knowledge about the case and to analyse thousands of new recordings.

Analysis:

Once the initial classifying phase was complete we had a shortlist of more than 2,000 audios, we had to listen again this shortlist and select those that were new findings or that gave context to Nisman´s selected ones. This was done by LN Data team. We started investigating the database using filters for specific words in text typed by collaborators inside categories, like tags and additional information. 

Only 10% of said tapes contains metadata identifying the origin telephone number (A) and the destination telephone number (B) of the phone calls, and also the data of the cell which detected them, if it was a mobile phone.

The big challenge of this phone call screening task is to identify the voices of the persons involved, when these persons, due to any relationship between them, do not identify themselves, or else, when they name each other by nicknames. We must then relate the phone number to a person, office, institution, etc. In our volunteer network , together with LN  Data team members, we had “specialists” in this or that person so we passed the audio we had doubts and that person identified him by hearing. So we found some of us are good “hearers” and can identify this voices, this is a new skill useful in future audio cases.

Considering this purpose, we organized a telephone guide which included all the numbers in order to complete them as we identified them.

The voices of some of the persons who appear more frequently in the media were easily recognized, but this was not so easy with the majority of the voices.

To make this task easier, on a spreadsheet, we filtered by destination phone number *2747, which is the Voice Mail of the cell phone company, and after listening the voice messages left on the voice mail, we identified the origin phone number and the date and time.  Some of the persons involved in the phone calls identified themselves with first and last name when they left a voice message.

Technology:

HTML; Javascript “Isotope” “Wavesurfer.js ” libraries; Google Spreadsheetes. Excel. Google Forms. XMind.

Impact:

The publications obtained wide reach on social media and among news outlets.

1) The investigation was requested by a Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio as evidence in the trial of ex-chancellor Héctor Timerman, who is accused of treason to Argentina in the AMIA case.

2) The investigation called the attention of Argentine Minister of Security Patricia Bullrich, who highlighted the proactive role of media to investigate against its absence of judicial commitment that abandoned many times and dismissed the investigation.

3) One of the stories was a trending topic in Argentina. The iranians financed jail bail to a local activist.

Open Data:

We published the database in Google Spreadsheets including audios, main text highlights, timestamps of most important selection within audio, description of Subjects and Biographies.

Go to Google Spreadsheet with audios structured data:

Conclusion:

What we’ve learned at La Nacion Data is to never believe a project is impossible, no matter how large. The proof was there, 40,000 audio files,  but everyone said this was impossible to process, so we said, why not?

If you really believe in the power or a community that is there and wants to help, just make it possible, facilitate the tools and give some basic rules, call them and they will help.

This is another case that we hope inspires media to use technology to serve a cause, and prove that real impact and change will come if we learn to collaborate .

Volunteer´s participation interacting closely with journalism and a very large dataset produced knowledge. In this industry in which we differentiate through knowledge (not raw data) we can only think of being sustainable if we learn to open, change our self centered mindsets, and ask for help.

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LA NACION DATA Website

Meet the team!

>>> lanacion.com.ar/data <<<

Project Description

LA NACION DATA website is not just a website, it´s a strategy, a project and a team. The strategy has to do with the commitment of using data to tell stories and expand the use of data, preferably open data, to activate demand of public information, in a country that just passed a FOIA law.

The internal strategy is to work in teams with journalists, tv producers and infographers so we just facilitate the data and help in the investigation or analysis, but they are the ones who domain the topic and know how to tell the stories.  Seguir leyendo

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Museums of Buenos Aires

Project description

In a context of growing visibility for the latin american art, we decided to create a web app that allows the users to navigate through the permanent collections of the most recognized museums of Buenos Aires. It includes contextual information about the author and the piece of art itself, and a map with the multiple locations of the museums.

It’s an innovative initiative that was launched on the week of the annual “Museum Night” that celebrates the city’s vibrant visual arts scene. It is a night where more than 200 museums open their doors, with free entry and special events for the public. So, we thought that concentrating the most relevant and powerful artworks of Buenos Aires on a single web page, would provide a perfect service for the public to enjoy a more organized and pleasant visit. Also, we offer a map that gives the user the opportunity to create a personalized and viable route to visit the paintings and sculptures they find most interesting.

Innovation

It is not just an art catalogue or a guide, it is a valuable and unique tool that can be fully adapted to the users art interests. All of the artwork included in the app has been chosen and curated by a journalist that specializes in the subject. While the photographs and the information of each of the art pieces and authors were provided by the museums itself. Even though we created the app in the context of the “Museum Night”, it is an enduring service for people to appreciate the artwork of Buenos Aires and to choose which Museum they would like to visit. It is the only art’s app available of Buenos Aires that reunites the permanent collection of more than ten museums. We manage to consolidate various museums in one place. The value of the product for tourist or people who want to visit the museums is huge. In addition, the innovation of this product is also the capability of monetization it has. The Ministry of Culture of Buenos Aires payed us just to insert their logo in the web app because they considered it was a way to promote the art life of our country.

The app had a great impact because various museums called us to include them in the platform, and the ones that were already participating promoted our work on their own social media accounts. All of the magazines of our newsroom group asked us to make a banner of the app for them to include on their pages. Even the Buenos Aires government congratulated and thanked us for the app and told us they would provide the url to the tourists.

Creation

The making process was long and difficult because we had to convince each of the museums to provide us with information and photographs of their permanent collection for free. They would have to share space in the app with other museums for art promotion purposes only. We manage to send them multiple Google Form’s for them to complete. They had to fill one form for each of the art pieces. Also, all of the museums signed an electronic legal document to give us all image copyrights for us to publish and use the photographs with no problem. In total we had 90 responses we had to work with from 10 different museums: MALBA, Colección de Arte Amalia Lacroze Fortabat, Museo de Arte Español Enrique Larreta, Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires, Museo Isaac Fernández Blanco, Museo Mitre, Museo Nacional de Arte Decorativo, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Museo Sívori.

We worked with the NPR’S Book Concierge open source code and adapt it to La Nacion’s color design and to our project best interests and objectives. Most of the code was written in Python and we used a Google Spreadsheet that worked as a data base. We also added plenty of other utilities that we thought were essential for this type of app. Furthermore, we included a search engine and used MapBox to locate all the museums to create a route for the visitors.

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One-third of the Congress members don’t have a College Degree

Project description

104 members of the Congress don’t have a college degree. That’s about 31% of all the 329 representatives of the legislative power. There are 17 undergraduate senators and 87 deputies. In other words, at least 2 members of each political orientations found in the Congress have no superior studies after secondary school. Cambiemos, the coalition in power has the highest number of graduates from university, 76% of their congressmen own a degree. On the other end, the left-handed parties and the Sergio Massa alliance, constituited by some of the strongest adversary parties of Mauricio Macri, have the lowest percentage of graduates.

Even though the Constitution does not establish a college degree as a legal requirement to become elected, we decided to state a controversial debate topic regarding the higher education and training of the elected politicians.

Moreover, we also found that 70% of the 130 congresswomen have completed a higher education program which means that they are more qualified than men. In the Senate, these figures are accentuated because the amount of women with a degree is 20 percentage points higher than men. This information had a great impact in Argentina because just two months before The Gender Parity Law was approved and any ballot list for elected office in 2019 must contain equal percentages of male and female candidates. In addition, we investigated the careers chosen by the ones who have a degree and saw that of them are lawyers and 80% studied in public universities.

Our project is different because of the process of translating the gathered and close information of the 329 legislators into a good, open and useful web app service that adds value to the role of civil society in holding government accountable. The platform created allows the user to click on any of the quadrants that symbolize each of the seats of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. Each click unfoldes the picture, name, college degree, party, province and social media profile of a Congress member. If you want to have a quick overview of the amounts and percentage of members with a college degree it is possible to filter by chamber, party and public or private institution

Impact

The investigation was replicated in multiple news outlets and TV programs. Also, some of the few congressmen that didn’t answer our phonecalls reached out and asked us to include them in the app. It was the most read article of the day in La Nación. It had 72.732 page views and an average time on page of 6 minutes.

Technology

The web app was developed wih JavaScript and D3JS to generate a graphic with quadrants that represent the amount of seats of the bicameral Congress. Complementary libaries were also used such as Underscore.js and Select2.js. In addition, for the uploading and synchronization of the information we used Google Spreadsheet as a data base. This gave us the chance to do the journalistic production and the programming simultaneously. The tools we used were Node.js with Gulp which allowed us to build automated tasks for the deployment of the app.

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Mapping Jacarandas

[Under Construction]

 

We used data from the city of Buenos Aires, regarding trees.

In November the city turns into lightblue due to the precious trees named Jacarandas.

We made a data visualisation with Tableau Publlic, mapping each piece.

 

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2017 Elections map: results in real time

A unique and valuable service for the the users to know the legislative election results of each district and province in real time. It includes the name, photograph and political orientation of each of the 4.216 senator and deputies candidates, and the results they obtained with the absolute value and the percentage of votes. It also shows the amount of polls counted at a certain time and the percentage of participation. It even has a switcher which allows the user to compare the actual results with the primary ones and a color palette for each political orientation with gradual transparency that allows the user to see the distribution of votes between them. The update of the results in real time was automated and the users could see the date and time of the last modification. 

 

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Where did the main political forces win and loose votes

In 2017 were the legislative elections in Argentina. Not only the new representatives of the Congress are elected, it is an opportunity for the political forces to measure their power in each province.

The map shows the 2017 Elections results for each political force, and the user can compare them with the primary elections and with the 2015 presidential elections of 2015.

This tool not only displays the votes results in absolute values, also the percentage of votes that each political force won or lost. The user can click on each province and see the result for each location in in a pop-up

The innovative thing is the design, the way of presenting the information. We chose to represent the provinces of our country through squares, and give each one a simple graph of arrows that reflect that percentage of votes each politcal force won or lost.

 

How we did it?

We looked for the official data results of: the presidential elections of 2015, the primary elections 2017 and the general elections 2017.

With all the information, we categorized the political forces according to three major groups: the party Cambiemos, the party that responds to the Kirchnerismo and the peronismo no kirchnersita.

The political groups that do not identify with these three forces were not taken into account.

We used: d3js, underscore.js, jquery, css3, sass, node, gulp.

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The search operation of the submarine Ara San Juan

Should we consider this project in Breaking News category? 

This was not a planned news event for which we prepared months/weeks in advance to serve our audience with quick analysis and rich visualizations after an expected major data dump (e.g. elections, olympics, soccer World Cup) or when a periodic nature disaster happens (e.g. California wildfires).

In Argentina, the disappearance of a submarine in time of peace and the occurrence of an hydroacoustic anomaly are unexpected events by definition.

How do we count 36 hs. after a breaking news event happened? Which event is the breaking news?

Different situations happened since the disappearance. 

November 17th, the Navy informed the press about the disappearance of the submarine and the start of a rescue operationSome optimistic hypothesis included communications problems.

November 22nd – 7 pmthe first official indication was unveiled: a “hydroacoustic anomaly”, recorded hours after losing contact with the ship, almost 60 km from the place where the last communication took place on Wednesday the 15th at 7.30 am. The Navy began to map a specific search area and ordered the transfer of vessels and aircraft to that area.

And that is the  day were we start counting the breaking news data. Optimistic hypothesis vanished and the tragedy option gained credibility.

That day, the entire fleet of the argentine Navy and the international ships organized under the same operation.

From very early that November 22, LA NACION DATA started following the route of those vessels and their search without specific direction. Until 7 pm.

What happened? When the Navy announced the hydroacoustic anomaly, we were ready to inform about the first boats that approached the new search area. From 7 pm until midnight we were able to show the raking that each ship made, within the search polygon marked by the Navy.

The result: we provided videos with the route of the boats to embed in all the notes that informed about the search a couple of hours after the navy Press conference; and a map we published on November 23rd print edition.

So, LA NACION DATA had the exact location of each search vessel in real time. 

ONLINE ARTICLE published November 23rd, 12.17 am (midnight after Nov. 22nd): 

>> Submarine ARA San Juan: a video of the route of the boats that are looking for in the area (includes exclusive video capture embeded below)

 

The search for the submarine was in a terrain unknown to all: the sea. That’s why we needed precise data about the location of the boats and the route each one made to rake as much as possible. And let what happened at sea, not just be there but on the screen of each reader.

The relatives of the crew joined in the hope of more news about the submarine ARA San Juan

 

In LA NACION DATA we accessed the data to geolocate the ships that approached the search point with satellite update, and managed to visualize the route of the vassels and tankers arriving from Chile, Brazil, Africa, Antarctica and the coast of Argentina.

This same day we made captures on the position of the ships to deliver visual and context material for the extensive coverage that took place this day. We also worked with the infographic team on a huge visualization that was going to be published next day.

 

PRINT EDITION published during midnight Nov. 22nd and delivered to general public on November 23rd morning, within hours after the hydroacoustic anomaly was announced.

 


How we did it? 

At the moment in which the navy informed the participating vessels of the search operation, one of our team members reacted suggesting Marine Traffic as a real time data tool. This is for breaking news using data!

She has assisted to the School of Data workshop “Investigating crime and corruption” in the International Journalism Festival in Perugia 2014 and remembered it. The workshop’s video is in this link

We used the Marine Traffic database and set up a fleet with the vessels we knew (by official information from the Navy) that were approaching the search site.

 

We could have worked through an API, but the breaking news hurried us and we decided to use other resources: video captures and static infographics.

 

Impact

We were the only ones who accessed the route of each ship during the search.

With the satellite update in real time we were able to report on the status of ships, such as the Sophie Siem (who had a rescue mini-submarine), that had to return to land to stock up. They were times of great uncertainty and every movement that made a boat was relevant.

 

 

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WiDS Buenos Aires

 

As a way to reach the community and focus our strategy vision we partnered with Stanford University, as a local host for Women in Data Science (WiDS) Conference.

The Global Women in Data Science (WiDS) Conference aims to inspire and educate data scientists worldwide, regardless of gender, and support women in the field.

LA NACION & the Engineering Faculty at Universidad de Buenos Aires hosted the 2nd edition in Argentina.

https://www.widsbuenosaires.org 

>>> Videos and Presentations <<<

The event presented more than 20 female speakers and + 300 participants throughout the day.

 

 

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Mortgage loans simulator

In Argentina, for more than ten years, only those with good salaries have access to mortgage loans. There were no flexible offers and the rates were very high.

With the new government, this changed. A new type of credit was created, called a mortgage loan adjusted for inflation. And it boosted the housing loan market.

What’s new? This loan begins with a low initial quota, which increases over time according to the national inflation index.

When analyzing the convenience of a housing loan it is necessary to understand that the amount to be requested is conditioned by salary and age, among other variables. People wasn’t used to this new credit and how to calculate it. That’s why LA NACIÓN developed a mortgage loan simulator that allows the user to know their financing possibilities in a practical way.

This is the first time that we made a tool based on open data working together with the commercial area of the newspaper. 

How we did it?

We used the data on mortgage loans published by the Central Bank and we generate a calculator that allows the user to find their best option.

At the same time, we allow interested banks to place their corporate logos through a commercial campaign that included a contact button, so that the user can send their personal data so that the bank can contact him.

Watch the next video and look how it works! 

 

All the banks in our country are obliged to inform the Central Bank of the Argentine Republic of all their products and services, with the detailed information of each one. This information is open to the public on its website and we use the dataset on mortgage loans.

First, we made a survey and chose the main banks that operate in the entire country. Then, we tried hard to understand the formula to calculate the first installment of a loan, and the last installment of the first 3 years of that loan (in Argentina we are interested in knowing how inflation will affect our credit obligations).

With the formula in our hands, we translated the calculation into Javascript language, creating a tool that allows the user to choose their own filters (type of house, type of credit) and enter the necessary data (such as salary and age) to be able to offer the result that each bank has for its situation.

After that, we dedicated to the design of the tool. There was a lot of information to show, and it must be understandable.

Impact

The note where the tool is embedded was published on September 17 and since then has accumulated almost one million page views (999,559 to be more specific). 30% of the entries to the note were generated from Google, thanks to the excellent indexation that allowed La Nación to become the first reference of consultation in mortgage loans.
The tool was also embedded in all the articles about mortgage loans in LA NACIÓN, and in other media websites. This allowed to overcome the amount of pageviews reaching a million and a half visits and an average of seven minutes in the tool.
Regarding the commercial aspect of the project, the first banks that participated were three: Supervielle, Santander Río and HSBC. After month and a half of publication the Macro and the ICBC were added.

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