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

 

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The power of audio to support the accusation of a ruling President and Chancellor in Argentina.

Digital & User Experience: We helped audience & Federal Justice listen to different phone conversations taking place throughout days, weeks, months, or even years, via convenient playlists and related information.

Reusable: Whenever a suspect or subject is in news related to the case or court proceedings, we embed a dedicated playlist to remind our audience why this person is involved in the investigation.

 

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 preventive 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.
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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.
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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) Recently, the judge Claudio Bonadio ordered that Cristina Kirchner should be held with preventive prison, but her role as a Senator provides her with congressional immunity. It will be up to the senators to vote in favour of stripping her privileges.

4) Several stories with new discoveries were found and published using the 40.000 audios database. You can read some of them on the links bellow:

-The prisoners and processed by Nisman’s audios

-Cristina endorsed an anti-US march financed by Iran

-The Iranian community financed Esteche

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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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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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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Where and Why energy cuts off in Buenos Aires

Date of publication

12/3/2018

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https://www.lanacion.com.ar/2115529-donde-y-por-que-se-corta-la-luz

Other links

https://www.lanacion.com.ar/2116113-por-cortes-en-2017-edenor-y-edesur-devuelven-a-los-usuarios-casi-200-millones

Description of the project

Argentina has an energy crisis mainly related to a frozen fee scheme maintained for about 10 years of the Kirchner administration and an electricity generation and distribution lack of investment.

This project was based on data collection with time schedule on a daily basis, from 4 websites with the purpose of determining if it is correct the perception of any relationship between energy cutoffs of electricity distribution companies (Edenor and Edesur) and extreme temperatures.

Said Project also determines which ones are the districts more affected by the cutoffs, if said cutoffs are worse or better and it also arrives at any other conclusions related to electrical energy, including the sources of generation.

The production for the article about energy cutoffs on the metropolitan area of Buenos Aires consisted of two articles published at the same time: one of them was printed and published on the front page as regards a discount given by service providers (Edenor and Edesur) to people affected by the energy cutoff from March to August 2017 and another article published on the homepage of the website about districts in Buenos Aires and greater Buenos Aires that were more affected between January 2017 and January 2018, said articles focused on the causes for this problem.

The database compiled with daily scraping 4 websites was published as a table with open data to download

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Chronology of a violent day: the most dramatic hours

Date of publication

18-12-2017

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Description of the project

It was a minute-by-minute coverage of the events occurred the day of the legislative debate of the pension system reform at the House of Representatives at the City of Buenos Aires. Several social organizations made protestation in different areas of the city to show disagreement about the bill submitted by the Executive Power.

A few minutes before constituting quorum for the transaction of business, it began a violent confrontation between demonstrators and the police which resulted in a historical day of violence: there was commotion in the streets of Buenos Aires with wounded people, persons under arrest and damages.

What makes this project innovative?

Although many news articles have been written on this regard, the order of information established for this article was useful for people to have a better comprehension of events and an order of the events in the middle of an information chaos. The use of infographies, photographs and videos were useful to show the audience a more correct dimension of the most important event of the last few weeks of the year.  Seguir leyendo

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Malvinas

Project Description

In 1982, the civilian military regime that ruled Argentina at that time sent conscripted soldiers who were not even 20 years old to fight in Malvinas against the British Army. Many of them died at the island and other 121 soldiers were buried in unnamed tombs and with heartbreaking words on it: Argentine soldier only known by God. Thanks to an ex combatant and to scientific work done in 2017, the Argentine state began to compensate said debt by identifying the tombs and notifying the families who finally knew where the soldier rested in peace.

Our production team wanted to pay tribute to those forgotten soldiers: we designed a big interactive infography that places the image of each soldier on his respective tomb, then we made contact with their families to know how their soldier was and how they, as family, lived all this time. By going through the structure of the interactive infography of the cemetery, the information of each soldier is displayed allowing thus each user to navigate the information structure.   Seguir leyendo

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Legislative Elections 2017: map with live results province by province

A unique and valuable service for the the users to know the legislative election results of each district and province in real time.

In addition to the map with the percentage of votes for each province, the tool offers:

- The option to see the results not only by province, but also by the districts that comonen each of them.

- The name, photograph and political orientation of each of the 4.216 senator and deputies candidates,

- The results they obtained with the absolute value and the percentage of votes.

- The number of votes counted at a given time

- 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.

-  Another switcher to know the results by deputies or senators.

The update of the results in real time was automated and the users could see the date and time of the last modification.

 Live link  

 

Impact

The map was replicated in several news outlets, even our main media group competitor published the app on their TV programs.

The election coverage was trending topic on Twitter, and many of the politicians of the different districts shared the web app on their social media.

It even obtained 1.170.000 pageviews and 40% of the traffic came from Google.

 

How we did it? 

We divided the process in multiple steps.

Firstly, we downloaded and validated the election data given by the government.

Then, we saved it into a database to later process it and created different JSON’s depending on app needs.

We tried to write small process so it is easier to parallelize the work and the runtime process.

In addition, to show the seats that each candidate won, we calculated and programmed the formula taking into account the D’Hont system for the deputies chamber and in the case of the senators it was easy because it is one representing the majority and the other representing the minority.

We used Python and PostgresSQL as the database for processing and saving the official data provided by the government. Also, Javascript and D3.js for rendering the map, and the Amazon services for hosting the backend and frontend.

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LA NACION (Argentina): Open Data Journalism for change

Meet the team!

Open Data Journalism for Change

Since 2011 when LA NACION Data was launched as an open data journalism initiative, its strategy has been the same: to do data journalism AND to open data.

The vision we have is that each set of data that is published means that more knowledge is released.

The first step to make datasets famous is to become open data USERS. And if there is no open data, no problem, we need to become PRODUCERS and transform from closed formats to open data. We have to find and convert public information, so we file FOIA requests, we use more than 8 OCR engines combined with processes that automatize the feed from that closed PDF to a database adding rows in a database per month or daily, and we even type from handwritten data files. 

We also host civic marathons for opening data. Beside publishing products and services, we attended every launch of a data portal hosted by government ministries or secretaries (Open Argentina ConfScience & Technology, Justice, Agroindustry, ACUMARPrisons, province of Buenos Aires, city of Bahía Blanca, city of Pilar), NGO (Education Project) or Universities Data Lab (Di Tellaand report about it in our blog.  Seguir leyendo

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