The death of a prosecutor, 40,000 audio hearings, 2 years, a team and a news app.
Organisation: LA NACION DATA (Argentina)
Publication Date: 04/10/2017
Size of team/newsroom:large
DescriptionTHE INVESTIGATION: A National Prosecutor accused Argentina’s ruling president Cristina Kirchner and chancellor Timermann of negotiating with the Government of Iran a way out of INTERPOL Red Notices for the suspects of a mayor terrorist attack against a jewish association in Argentina. Two days after exposing his opinion in public and one day before testifying in National Congress, the Prosecutor Nisman was found dead in his appartment. And it became a scandal in Argentina and many international media outlets reported about this. His accusation was based in+ 40,000 phone interceptions, throughout almost 4 years. He sustained his arguments in 103 audios but after LA NACION investigation the total published as relevant were almost 200. This classification took two years and we used the online collaborative platform VOZDATA (open source as CROWDATA). Vozdata was developed with the help of KNIGHT MOZILLA OPENNEWS fellows Manuel Aristaran and Gabriela Rodriguez and then, the new features for the open source platform were funded by CIVICUS ALLIANCE. The main classification was done remotely but we also hosted 4 civic marathons at LA NACION "Audiothons"/// MAJOR FINDINGS: 1) Iran´s local community paid bails to help a local activist, leader of the Kirchner political movement “Quebracho” 2) A national senator from official government party was an active lobbyist for Iranian Government with local businessmen. 3) Ex National Army Chief General Milani is possibly related to an illegal network of espionage. 4) Iran financed a local activist movement pro Kirchner Government for leading demonstrations and protests against US Embassy. //// For the Second Anniversary we launch “Nisman: two years of listenings”, a News APP with an interactive timeline, an explanation of what happened with Nisman accusation after his death and the behind the scenes of the collaborative investigation. Interactivity of the app was important and the project launched provided both explanation of the topic and user engagement. /// THE NEWS APP: We included almost 200 audios that can be navigated by person or topic, in chronological order. Whole audios were uploaded to avoid suspicion that they could have been edited to reach certain conclusions. We highlighted in the wavesound of each audio the most relevant parts of the conversations to facilitate the listening. Each person and topic has an extended information link within the app. Every audio has a link to a Google Forms for audience to send more tips about the case. To reuse the platform with future reporting regarding Prosecutor Nisman Case trials updates, any tag for person or topic can be embedded as a single playlist of audios in an article. /// OPEN DATA: We published audios and metadata in Google Spreadseets with structured information about people with biographies, topics with explanations, highlighted text for each audio and timestamps of selected parts of conversation in each audio.
What makes this project innovative? What was its impact?INNOVATIVE: 1) The most innovative challenge of the project was tackling the leak of audios into a database for investigative reporting. 2) The second is that when audios leaked, one media outlet published the 40.000 without any criteria and other media outlets started reporting on a single audio. We decided to face the whole bunch and look for sets of audios related to stories. This would be more powerful to suppport the reporting. A playlist of audios happening in different days and maybe conversations of different people around a single topic. And it was a good strategy regarding impact. 3) The third is about the collaboration process highlighted in the publishing. When we launched the News App and findings, we reported about the Behind the Scenes: how 120 collaborators from NGO's, Students of Journalism and Law plus general audience were involved in the two years classification. This is a message for authorities and Justice. It is not LA NACION who is publishing these stories. A network of citizens have digged into the audios and they have classified many of them as relevant to Nisman investigation. /// IMPACT: a) The main impact for us is that the investigation was requested by a Federal Judge as evidence in the trial of ex-chancellor Héctor Timerman, who is accused of treason to Argentina. b) The investigation called the attention of Argentine ruling Minister of Security, who highlighted our proactive role to investigate against the absence of judicial commitment to continue Nisman's investigation. Judges were suspected of supporting accused ruling President c) The publications obtained wide reach on social media and audios with stories were published by different outlets. One of the stories was trending topic in Twitter Argentina. The one about iranian government paying a jail bail for a local activist. d) User engagement included 23 readers who contacted us directly with more information about the audios through a Google Form included in the app.
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