Rutas del Conflicto - Data Journalism Website

Rutas del Conflicto - Data Journalism Website

Organisation: Rutas del Conflicto (Colombia)

Publication Date: 04/05/2017

Size of team/newsroom:small


Rutas del Conflicto is an online and independent media that gathers information from the armed conflict in Colombia through journalistics databases, narrative content, research and investigative journalism. The project started driven by the need to provide visibility to Colombian armed conflict events that had not been narrated by the traditional media or the State, in official documents. Rutas del Conflicto is the first journalistic database in Colombia that has documented 728 massacres, which have happened since 1982, and has presented it to the public using modern tools, as data visualization, journalistic videos, photographs, radio podcast and an easy navigation in the internet. It is a project which works with data-driven journalism, data visualisation tools and crossmedia journalism, letting the victims of internal conflict and common citizens tell their stories of how they survived to all the violence they lived. Our project rise in importance in times of peace agreement and post-conflict in Colombia, and it aims to bring to the discussion the voice of who suffered the conflict, besides of their expectation and their actual needs, which must be solved in order to get a sustainable peace in the country. Rutas del Conflicto also helps in the construction of national historic memory about the conflict. Our information can be read and used by survivors, teachers, institutions, social leaders and any interested reader in the context of conflict-solving exercises. In 2016, we continued doing the section Yo Sobreviví (I’ve Survived), which identifies massacres’ survivors and tells their stories with their own words, in texts, videos or audio podcasts. Besides, those stories are organized in a data visualization with Google Maps and informative points. In the area of data visualization, we published the Colombian Paramilitarism Geography, which shows the appearance, the rise and the weakening of the presence of paramilitary forces in Colombia, since 1977 to 2006. The interactive map has dates and places which marked the story of those armed actors. There is also a timeline to explain the first autodefensas groups (paramilitaries) history. Rutas del Conflicto also filtered and analyzed collected data at the massacres database to identify which murdered victims belong to some indigenous communities. Of the 750 recorded massacres documented in this portal, in approximately 40 of them there is evidence of violence against members of these communities in several areas of the country. As part of our biggest investigations, we also presented two journalistic reports about the State of Vichada, where conflict’s marks were left by several armed actors who had interest in the land and the drug traffic. These investigations aim to document the history of violence and to detail its relation to land ownership in Llanos Orientales (Eastern Plains of Colombia), an area that is not included in traditional journalistic coverage.

What makes this project innovative? What was its impact?

Rutas del Conflicto is a small newsroom, composed by ten people, in which every team member is integrated in different steps of investigations: scraping, searching public documents, organizing data, reviewing academics articles, interviewing and reporting, writing testimonies, taking photos and videos, editing, making databases or data visualization and, finally, developing the web page. The project has been innovative since its beginning, with the massacres database and an app focused on satellite positioning (GPS) technology where users could see what massacres have occurred within a 50-kilometer radius of their own location. The content in Rutas del Conflicto is innovative because it mixes data journalism and investigative journalism with tools to enact voices of conflicts’ survivors, helping the formation of historic memories of the events. A good example of that mix is the project “Yo Sobreviví” (I’ve Survived), which has a map and visualization with points about survivors localization and a list survivors’ testimonies, We also use different tools to explain complex subjects, as maps, graphs, timelines, data visualization, videos, photos, fact checkings, podcasts and texts. In some publications, more than one technique are combined. The impact is due to the visibilization of survivors’ voices who can talk about the colombian conflict since a different point of view. This is important for whom wants to give his or her testimony, in order to enact memories; to the readers, who can access new information about the events and to the State, considering the necessity of legal compensations and strategies of no repetition. Besides, in the context of the peace agreement between colombian government and FARC guerrilla, and considering all the misunderstanding which circulates through social networks online, journalistic information, investigation and data is important to peace building.

Technologies used for this project:

The interactive maps of Geografía del Terror and Yo Sobreviví use Google Maps and Carto and visualization points. But it was only possible after a deep research about the massacres, which was organised with Excel tables and Google Spreadsheet. In the section Yo Sobreviví, we also use multimedia tools, as podcasts and videos, which are recorded and edited by Rutas del Conflicto’s members. The webpages are built with HTML, CSS PHP and JavaScript language. JavaScript works with Google Fusion Tables source code. We also use SQL language. The investigation about Vichada State was also published with maps, graphics (as the one with the actors involved with land selling and the other about food prices with cocaine paste as currency) and multimedia tools with photos and videos. The first chapter, “Vichada: tierra de hombres para hombres sin tierra”, has two historic videos (about the history of violence and the history of land property in the region) which are made with drawing and narration. This project also involved research and investigation about land property and links between armed actors, actors who intermediated negotiations and big companies. All this information was organised in Excel tables. Finally, in 2014 we created Rutas del Conflicto app, a tool focused on satellite positioning (GPS) technology. When you open it from your mobile device, you can see what massacres occurred within a 50-kilometer radius of your own location. If you’re not in Colombia you can see all the information contained in the app. It contains information on massacres perpetrated by paramilitaries, guerrillas, members of the security forces and Bacrim. A multimedia menu is displayed on the map and shows pictures, details such as the names of the victims and possible specific motivations of the group that committed it. It is free and available for Android and IOS operating system (iPhone and iPad) and it has a 4,5 score at Google Play Store.
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