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HomeJOURNALISM STRATEGYDatabase journalism in Bolivia in its infancy - USA News Web

Database journalism in Bolivia in its infancy – USA News Web

Data journalism in Bolivia is in its infancy. Newsrooms, however, are betting on this branch of news.

Armando Quispe, author of Talking by the Numbers: Data Journalism in Bolivia, sums it up this way: classesdeperiodismo.com Data journalism is advancing “bit by bit” as challenges posed by technological evolution force hermeneutics in traditional news production to change daily.

The book “When the Numbers Speak: Data Journalism in Bolivia” is the result of the “Comprehensive Program for the Development of Open Data and Data Journalism”, organized by the Press Foundation (FPP) at the British Embassy and the European Journalism Center (EJC) to promote open Use of data and empowering investigative journalists.

This book is a Bolivian handbook, including theory, situation analysis, tools and resources for applied data journalism. Additionally, it showcases 10 examples of news products produced by 11 journalists using this technique.

What does the Bolivian media do?

Some national media outlets have chosen to create dedicated sections on their portals for publishing investigative journalism papers that specialize in the analysis, interpretation and visualization of large amounts of data. A growing number of colleagues are interested in training and developing competencies in the use of big data, with the goal of developing higher quality products and analyses.

Those who venture into the journalism profession accumulate knowledge through personal experimentation. They are self-taught. In the country, there are no university courses specifically aimed at training journalists. Although careers in communication are available at both public and private higher education institutions, journalism is a different discipline.

What are the limitations of the media in carrying out data journalism?

Beyond that, there are hurdles that those trying to break into data journalism must overcome. Not all public agencies publish data, and not all of those that do do so in a friendly manner or within the required timeframe, although journalists do have to contend with bureaucracy.

Bolivia lacks laws on access to public information, although the National Political Constitution of 7 February 2009 states that individual or collective access to information, interpretation, analysis and free communication is a right. Likewise, it states that each person has the right to individually or collectively, orally or in writing, and are entitled to a formal and prompt reply.

In the country’s legislative history, we can mention Supreme Decree No. 27329 of January 31, 2004, aimed at ensuring the transparency and accessibility of government information. In addition to this, there is Supreme Decree No. 28168 of May 17, 2005, which proposes to “guarantee access to information as a fundamental right of every individual, as well as transparency in the management of the executive branch”.

Not only have initiatives to promote free access to public information resources and citizen participation in the form of public interest decision-making emanated from the media, but there are also examples, albeit few, of state initiatives. For example, the Agency for e-Government and Information and Communication Technology (AGETIC), a decentralized entity under the Malacañang, publishes accessible, standardized and reusable data from different public entities through a website called “Open Data”. As of Sunday, June 4, it has a database of 24 public institutions, spread across 10 categories, updated to 2016.

Another institution working on open data management, the Plurinational Electoral Organization (OEP), presented in La Paz on April 20 the fourth volume of the Bolivian electoral atlas, which systematizes all content in a free digital database , to download and reuse results. A total of 45 electoral processes developed between 1979 and 2016.

What are the good and bad practices?

Unobscured
Journalists cannot be transcriptionists of statements, we must investigate. Data journalism teaches us that the scope of information goes beyond what is seen and heard; the more analyses, reflections, criticisms, comparisons, verifications, investigations, the better the news product. With this goal in mind, we must not allow ourselves to be swallowed up by pressing situations. We must give each job the time it deserves and be patient.

coexistence of different sensitivities
You learn by doing, by doing, by trial and error. We journalists must understand that we cannot cover everything or know everything. We need to discover new tools that allow us to do things better. The experience of other experts should be used to obtain high-quality products, better resolved and fully demonstrated. Coexistence of different occupational sensitivities is necessary.

not only inform, but explain
When journalists work with large amounts of data, they not only have to discover and report cases hidden in the numbers and variables, but also explain them.

think about the audience
Different appropriate narratives must be sought to ensure that journalistic work achieves the necessary impact, because days of concentration and headaches interviewing data are useless if the product is not understood as intended. Viewer-friendly content must be considered. Our work doesn’t end with publication, it continues with dissemination.

shared raw materials
Journalists should not be limited to publishing only the results of their work using data journalism techniques, there is a need to share the raw material that leads us to our investigative conclusions. The final product must be accompanied by the release of documentation and databases. This would allow any citizen to attest to the data and reuse it.

own schedule
One should take advantage of the fact that most media portals provide information based on immediacy and situation. As databases allow us to work on a variety of cases and approaches, data journalism allows us to have our own agenda.

Are there prominent examples in some media?
We can, of course, highlight the work of the newspaper El Deber de Santa Cruz through its dedicated section “El Deber Data” and the newspaper Los Tiempos de Cochabamba through its section “LT-Data”. The 10 report cases included in the book “When Data Speaks: Data Journalism in Bolivia” are also examples of more and more media joining the trend of data journalism.

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Journalist graduated from the Catholic University of Peru (PUCP). Master in Digital Journalism, University of Alcalá, Spain. ISIL Digital Journalism Professor/Community Manager. @zophiap on Twitter

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