New Data Tools for investigative Journalists
Reporting on public spending is key to accountability, but access and analysis of data is not always easy. This is why OpenBudgets.eu, Your Data Stories and DIGIWHIST, three H2020 projects, have focused on tracing public spending, data analysis and storytelling, in the name of accountability. Together the three projects provide an important set of resources for journalists in their work to hold governments accountable. This guide shows how the different tools can help journalists in their work, gives examples of stories, offers data trainings/tutorials and provides datasets that can be used for their next investigation.
The OpenBudgets.eu toolbox provides journalists with training material, visualisation and deep analytical software to understand public budgets and government accounting. It also contains tutorials to give users a head start on researching public spending. Start off in a playful way and let the game “the good the bad and the accountant” provide you with the basics on how public spending, conflict of interest, and corruption may appear. OpenBudgets.eu supports a linked data repository for budgetary data, so that budget and spending data can be stored, visualised and analysed on the platform. This provides the first overviews and insights into where to look for stories.
Public budget and spending data can then in turn be combined with the data provided by DIGIWHIST: the largest database for public procurement data in Europe. DIGIWHIST provides portals in 35 jurisdictions across all EU-Member States for EU tender data. On https://opentender.eu/ journalists and researchers can access procurement data to have a closer look at projects and transactions. Using red-flag tools, they can find suspicious patterns and gain insights into the context, the rules and regulations and potential misuse of procurement procedures. This allows them to find leads on how public money is being spendt and uncover potential misuse of public funds.
Your Data Stories
With the insights and data from OpenBudgets.euand DIGIWHIST, the data can be used for storytelling with the tools of Your Data Stories. Your Data Stories allows journalists and data experts to interconnect, search, analyse, explore and understand available data, in order to extract insights, facts and material to support and shape their data stories. The YDS platform allows users to browse through and analyse datasets from various sources, which have been already aligned, interlinked and unified under a common vocabulary. The simple visual approach of YDS makes it possible for journalists and less skilled data researchers to delve into the data from any possible aspect and perspective finding new angles. The all-in-one workflow lets users go straight from finding the data to publishing their story.
All three project, OpenBudgets.eu, DIGIWHIST and Your Data Stories, have made these tools available on their websites. Whilst some are still in prototype stage, together they will further the field of financial data journalism, aiding in the analysis, visualisation and publication of financial datasets, from budgets and spending data, to procurement and statistics, leading to more investigative stories and more transparency.
This post is a co-creation of Anna Alberts (OpenBudgets.eu), Tilman Wagner, Anna Triantafillou (both Your Data Stories), Daniel Tan and Fiona Harrison (both DIGIWHIST). The publication can also be found on the respective project blogs.