The Data Sleuths of San José: How Costa Rican Reporters Used Data To Bring Down a System of Sleaze

In the fall of 2003 the story made its way to journalists at La Nación, the leading national newspaper in the Central American republic of Costa Rica. The reporters at the paper’s investigative unit pricked up their ears as soon as the disgruntled real estate agent spoke the name of her exasperating client: Eliseo Vargas, the man in charge of the country’s vaunted national health-care agency. “We didn’t really know what she had,” recalls reporter Ernesto Rivera.

Investigating With Databases: Verifying Data Quality

Editor’s Note: The Verification Handbook for Investigative Reporting is a new guide to online search and research techniques to using user-generated content and open source information in investigations. Published by the European Journalism Centre, a GIJN member based in the Netherlands, the manual consists of ten chapters and is available for free download. We’re pleased to reprint below chapter 5, by investigative journalist Giannina Segnini.  

Never before have journalists had so much access to information. More than three exabytes of data — equivalent to 750 million DVDs — are created every day, and that number duplicates every 40 months.