LA NACION DATA TEAM (ARGENTINA)

 

Project Description

Since 2011 LN Data has been a strategy, a content initiative and a team whose goals are to facilitate open data journalism in LA NACION and impact for change in Argentina.

Our team has been formed by the same initial three members, Ricardo, data engineer for investigative reporting in LN Data, Flor, research and training in digital media trends and open data and Momi Peralta. We grew from there year after year. Today we are 10, including  data miner Gaby, data producer Romina, two back and front end developers Nico and Cristian, a librarian and archivist Gabriela and two journalists with data and scripting skills Carolina and Bianca 2017.

But the truth is that  we are never just 10 because our strategy is not to be a special centralized investigative unit, but a platform for all our newsroom to facilitate data, innovation, technology and skills for data journalism crossing all platforms and sections including LA NACION in its Tv channel.

So as we are inserted in the newsroom, we  work in teams with journalists and interactive designers organized by data projects.

MONETIZING DATA APPS

Monetizing data apps and solutions to users and sponsors was possible this year. That´s why we developed housing credits comparor and simulator, and reusing NPR code https://github.com/nprapps/books14  we built our LA NACION Libros (books) Books and LA NACION Museos (<- behind the scenes) applications and sold it to sponsors and our LN Tools reusing Autotune from Vox media as well. This is besides traditional monetization by advertising and subscriptions.

 

What makes this project innovative? 

Coherence, openness and workflow.

It is not easy to introduce this skills in a traditional newsroom, we are not only inserted but we feel we are an amplified team as we  work with journalists and interactive designers. This amplified team working by projects and extended with our data visualization team of more than 8 designers makes LA NACION not dependent on one person or personalized section and when that person leaves nothing works. We implemented distributed processes, applications and skills and a “data aware” mindset that is transferred daily as an evangelizing work lead by this data team.

LN Data is considered a team and initiative for innovation in journalism as it is based in technology, data, openness and teamwork.  We provide datasets or analysis for investigations, we participate in hacktivism and open data communities, we always work in teams and think every project, application or data platform as reusable as possible . As innovative techniques: Data science, automatization and open collaboration.

 

OPEN COLLABORATION AND CITIZEN PARTICIPATION

About 2017 Crowdsourcing Senate Expenses.

From 2013 to 2017, and thanks to our opennews Fellows and team development, LN Data developed its Vozdata platform, and opened it as Crowdata, we could not only make this citizen participation turn into citizen co creation of data from scanned or image documents that isolated made no sense, but collective as a dataset and open made all the sense and a powerful tool to discover new stories. 7 years of monitoring senate expenses, 11 provinces that covered 45,000 PDF of voting polls and two audio hearings investigations of 40.000 audios during two years and covering more than 1200 volunteers with cross validation and after checking from our team including reporting. Local NGO.s as Fundación Directorio Legislativo, Poder Ciudadano, ACIJ and Universities collaborated with our projects in presence and virtual “data days” in LA NACION. (Nieman Lab) 

This is change for us, not the easy data journalism , not telling stories with or from data, but changing something towards more and more transparency, accountability and participation through digital media.

That is why we organized 4 Datafest events together with Journalism and Engineering University Austral, and we organized WIDS2018, Women in Data Science, local event of Stanford University together with the University of Buenos Aires, engineering PHD department  and we assist to meetups and workshops in Data Science or AI and cognitive technologies .

 

AUTOMATIZATION

Yes! our “Maxbot” platform published 520 articles from district polling results in our legislative elections, creating localized content together with its maps, that otherwise would not be done.

What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it? 

Results and monetization: Internally by metrics and score: articles, maps and apps from LN Data are in the top ranking or the year. Monetizing data apps gave us the opportunity to work with commercial teams and we see more opportunities coming.

In the newsroom as value added content as well as a place where journalists come for ideas and original content provided by our team and data. We provide datasets or analysis or investigations, what we ask is always to work in teams and think every project and platform as reusable as possible.

In Argentina LA NACION Data is considered a watchdog for transparency, investigative reporting and open government plans. As evidence is presented, some of our investigations are part of judicial evidence in Federal Court, and in elections our data platforms help change the way we count votes in Argentina, including the change of electoral process in vote counting by the National Electoral agency besides evidence in corruption cases discovered together with our investigative reporters using our knowledge base of public datasets.

After organizing four Datafests and the WIDS: Woman in data science conference in Argentina, our team is also considered pioneer in applying technologies to solve data and content problems, specially from unstructured data and a reference in the local tech for journalism community.

 

Source and methodology

AN INTEGRATED WORKFLOW to optimize research and use of multiple sources and team work for getting data, analysing and visualising projects. 

Every monday we have our Data team meeting, and every day a 10 minutes stand up meeting . One member of our team participates in the morning newsroom meeting, producing or facilitating data solutions for all LA NACION platforms, including TV. On a weekly basis we meet with dataviz and editorial team in our “weekly planning” meeting. We participate in metrics and analytics team and in the “new formats” team also in weekly basis.

 

REUSABLE DATA APPS

We build reusable platforms, this year after an energy crisis in Argentina and the new government raising the price of electricity, we decided to monitor electricity interruptions, so we developed a real time visualization that is fed through a dataset scraped by our team .

Other platforms we reuse are election maps at the lowest level that is by polling schools showing original polling documents as evidence. Congresoscope by which we publish who votes what in every relevant congress session, and open statements of assets, as well as reusable visualizations of more than 40 data series reused monthly.

About 2017, Mapping Prosecutor Nisman Phone Interceptions, reusing audios database

Technologies Used

Autotune, PostgreSQL., Amazon Web Services: EC2, Lambdas, API Gateway, S3, RDS and Cloudwatch, MySQL, sqlite, Docker, Vagrant, Git, vue.js, express.js, node, leaflet.js, mapbox, cartodb, flask, fabric. // Scraping and Converting for Opening Technologies; VB .Net, ByteScout, iMacros, OneDrive ,  Python,, Nitro PDF, Tabula PDF, Open Refine, Excel, Google Spreadsheets,  API, Json, CSV and Javascript. Tableau Public, Qlikview.

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