RSF’s Press Freedom Index: Media Freedom Falling in Democracies

Reporters Without Borders this week released its 2017 World Press Freedom Index of 180 countries, and the news is not good. The report found media freedoms falling in democracies and that “nothing seems to be checking that fall.” Nearly two thirds (62.2%) of countries measured had deteriorated freedoms, while the number of countries where the media freedom situation was “good” or “fairly good” fell by 2.3%.

FOIA This! — Digging Out Government Spending

Tracking down local government expenses is a recurrent theme for many successful freedom of information requests. Some recent examples suggest that quite a variety of information is potentially available — about credit card charges, salaries, retirement parties, and even costs of leak investigations. Have a great story you developed using a FOI/RTI request? Send it to us at freeinfo@email.gwu.edu. We’re currently looking for examples regarding immigration.

A Bumper Crop of Award-Winning Investigations

‘Tis the season of media awards with lots of great investigative journalists — and great investigative stories — getting honored for their muckraking. We’ve picked some notable winners and finalists from the European Press Prizes, the Pulitzers, and the IRE Awards. Big congratulations to the winners and finalists, who have showcased grit and determination in exposing injustices and corruption across the globe. Despite all the challenges we face, muckraking has never been in better hands.

How Univision Revealed Flaws in Costa Rica’s Judicial System

Four years of work and 8,000 judicial rulings later, the team at Univision Data shows how in Costa Rica, a person is more likely to be convicted of a crime if they are assigned a public defense attorney than if they have a private one. Their methodology included web scraping, R and logistic regression — a statistical method common in social sciences but practically unexplored in newsrooms.

The 5th Element: A Mexican Investigative Reporting Lab

The dependence of Mexican media on official advertising, reductions in newsrooms and the search by media outlets to “fill spaces,” meant that investigative journalism is increasingly forgotten, and the little that is done is failing to create the impact it should. In order to rectify this, reporters Alexandra Xanic, Daniel Lizárraga, Ignacio Rodríguez Reyna and Marcela Turati set up Quinto Elemento Lab – to work with and mentor investigative journalists through the progress of investigations.

Top Ten #ddj: The Week’s Most Popular Data Journalism Links

Here are top data journalism tweets for Apr 10-16, per our NodeXL mapping: Brittany’s posh hotels (@dataspotTLG); Flourish #dataviz tool (@FastCoDesign); US health insurance (@NPR); hexagonal Europe (@MusMekh); visual vocabulary (@ftdata); data internships (@ONS); China’s rising water (@kimmelman); & more.

GIJN Members in the News

It’s been a busy first quarter of 2017 for GIJN members — from picking up Pulitzer Prizes to launching crowdfunding campaigns. There have also been new projects and new collaborations forged. Here are some noteworthy splashes made by GIJN members around the world.

Ojo Público Experiments with Digital Narratives

For Ojo Público, the search for new narratives and formats to tell a story is constant. The Peruvian investigative outlet believes in experimenting and betting on new formats to reach new audiences. With this mindset and commitment to innovation, the team has produced stories in an interactive comic format, created an award-winning database and is looking to develop news games this year.

Helena Bengtsson: Bringing People Back to Facts

When faced with data journalism, journalists often say “Oh, I can’t do that, it’s too complicated” [or] “I hated math in school, I really can’t take the time to learn how to do this”. However, data expert Helena Bengtsson stresses that data journalism is not that hard, and insists that every journalist should have basic knowledge of how to sort and filter a spreadsheet, and do simple calculations.