Newspaper overcomes hurdles, wins international data journalism award

Oct 30, 2018 in Miscellaneous

Imagine you're a reporter or editor in a country lacking open data or a freedom of information law. When you request data from the government, the reply comes in the form of reams of paper -- if you get an answer at all.

Instead of informing your readers about census results soon after the government collects them, you have to wait two years, by which time the facts have already changed so much that you're not reporting the news, you're recounting history.

Facing these hurdles, many journalists and news outlets would resign themselves to covering government statistics by quoting officials, press releases, experts or whistle-blowers, and give up on analyzing patterns in data to break news stories. But not Argentina’s La Nación newspaper.

Instead, it built a data journalism team that has become a global leader in the field.

Today, it won a Data Journalism Award for its investigation of Argentina's Senate expenses from 2004 to 2013 in the “investigative journalism by a large media organization” category.

The investigation uncovered spending irregularities, including reimbursement of expenses for official trips that were never actually taken. La Nación’s reporting prompted replies from Senate officials and a judicial investigation of Vice President Amado Boudou.

The award recognizes "the efforts and perseverance of an incredible team of people who are working in a country without open data doing data journalism,” said investigative journalist and media trainer Sandra Crucianelli, who helped train La Nación staff as part of her recent ICFJ Knight International Journalism Fellowship. “And it shows that it is not always necessary to use expensive technology. Perseverance, commitment and a long-standing team get better results and inspire others.”

La Nación was also a finalist for La Nación Data, the section of its website which explores the craft and uses of data-driven reporting, in the “data journalism website or section, small media category.”

Winners of the Data Journalism Awards were announced at the Global Editors Network's 2013 summit in Paris. The complete list of winners is here.

More IJNet coverage of La Nación's work in data-driven journalism:

Why La Nación shares documents with its readers

Lessons learned from building a data journalism team

Data festival aims to spark collaboration

La Nación newspaper launches application to examine census data

Six winning digital strategies from La Nación

Global media innovation content related to the projects and partners of the ICFJ Knight International Journalism Fellowships on IJNet is supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Image: screen grab of La Nación Data logo.