The Venetian Banking Earthquake across Italy
Organisation: La Stampa (Italy)
Publication Date: 04/08/2017
DescriptionOur featured project is a multimedia breaking news story investigating on last spring’s collapse of 2 Italian banks, namely Veneto Banca and Banca Popolare di Vicenza. The crack of the Venetian financial institutions, which threatened to crush the entire Italian banking system, certainly had an impact on the perception of our overall national stability in Europe. Facts: on the night of May 31, 2016, the Veneto Banca Board of Directors decided to nullify the value of its shares in view of the 1 billion capital increase needed to ensure the survival of the institute. This meant that nearly 90,000 shareholders, mostly families and individuals who had invested their savings in a product they considered "safe", found their assets delated overnight. At least 10 billion in savings were permanently lost. It was a truly "democratic" financial disaster involving large and small businessmen, retirees, political and charitable organizations, local artisans and large American banks. Even though our addressed topic might seem rather technical, our audience was quite general since the events affected just about anyone. One of our goals in fact, was to address as many readers as possible by using a clear and direct language: from the small account holder to the largest shareholder, ultimately every one of us could have been affected by this case-history; after all, don’t we all have a bank account? From a journalistic point of view, we started with a fact-finding process and retrieved the list of all 87.502 members of the institute. This investigation was backed up by data-journalism (involving a number of different technologies, see specific answer), which made it possible to extract a series of additional information thanks to the processing of a large amount of data. The decision to use an interactive documentary for the reporting of the data has enabled dozens of local newspapers to benefit from our investigation and report the news and correlated damages within their respective territories. The picture that emerges shows that Veneto Banca, rather than “just” a crisis of a regional bank, is yet another blow to the Italian banking system at national level. A price which all of us will eventually pay. Our innovative project on La Stampa website was rewarded with a great response from other news media, but above all with increased interactions (website visits, email, comments on Facebook) from readers. As far as monetization of the project, our work had been preliminarily discussed with the local offices of Itedi group (La Stampa-Secolo XIX), which afterwards devoted several focus areas on their respective territories.
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