Social media and the the Internet in general became are widely used as new tools of journalistic work. Crowdsourcing in investigative journalism is gaining popularity and seems to be proving itself effective. The speakers of International Journalism Festival Rosy Battaglia – founder of “Cittadini” Reattivi, Gianluca De Martino representing “Dataninja” and Daniel Drepper from crowdnewsroom.org presented their stories on the results and outcomes of civic and data journalism mixing together and working on the grounds of integration with the citizenry.
CROWDSOURCING IN INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM
Crowdsourcing is a way of involving citizens in the process of investigation. The panel agreed that it can be organized in different ways: in social media and on the platforms created especially for the interaction of journalists and the audience. The focus in the new methods of journalistic investigation has shifted to the social media use. Another effective way to engage citizens according to Rosy Battaglia is to work with online petitions which also provide journalists with the opportunity to raise awareness of citizens of the outcome of investigation. Once the signature is left on the website by someone who is petitioning, the subscription to the news regarding this issue starts. The panel also agreed on the fact, that online petitioning is a way of collecting and processing data information.
JOURNALISM AS A PUBLIC SERVICE IN TERMS OF THE CITIZEN INVOLVEMENT: STORIES OF THREE PROJECTS
Rosy Battaglia: “There is a view, that a journalism can be a public service”. To her opinion that is something that a lot of us take for grunted. Journalism requires constant work and it is important to involve people, to create engagement. Stating that working with different groups is also important in crowdsourcing Rosy Battaglia gives her own example as she has been investigating at polluted sights. During her work a map of crowdsourcing was created showing engagement of citizens in different parts of Italy. For instance, the investigation showed, that there are 300.000 factories through countries, which must be cleaned out. “Thanks to the small platform we came up with investigation discussing asbestos” – points out Rosy Battaglia. Due to the research field she was able to travel through Italy attending conferences at which data was presented and where citizens got to speak out. Eventually in the process of investigation it was discovered that the information on governmental websites was not completely right. The activities organized in terms of that particular investigation were special since everyone could create information and there were different occasions on which the journalists could meet their sources – the citizens and develop further communication and exchange of information.
According to Rosy Battaglia, that project reflected the exact idea of public journalism in Italy, that she and her team had in mind.
Journalists in this situations should be mediators between traditional media outlets and the social media as a platform on which citizens generate information. “Our citizens post information, because they want to be heard” – said Rosy Battaglia and added that journalists can even write articles to comment on what citizens write on social media.
According to Daniel Drepper in investigative journalism the more people know, the more powerful journalists get.
While there are only 16 full-time reporters in the project crowdnewsroom.org, which started in 2014, thousand people are involved in the investigation process. This platform uses both traditional outlets, including german and international resources, and crowdsourcing. Moreover, the engagement of citizens in this project includes educating and informing, since it is not only a non-profit organization, but also an educational institution.
In case of crowdnewsroom.org, the project started with one investigation of local savings banks in Germany. The transparency of the work of this banks was questioned by the participants of this projects. There were 400 local banks investigated with the help of active citizens and also work of students. Participants were obliged to upload both information and its sources on the website, so that the investigation would be based not on the emotions, but on the facts. Also the commitment of the citizens was secured by the system of logins.
Gianluca De Martino based his story on the case of the website Confiscati Bene which is focused on the investigation connected with the cases of seizure of confiscated goods, especially the ones which belonged to mafia. This investigation is partly funded by a journalism fund.
In 2015 as a result of this work the data collected in Europe was published. Estimated value of the confiscated goods in Europe in a year is 4 billion euros. The idea of this project is to investigate the situation in the Balkans region.
LAW ON THE PUBLIC ACCESS TO INFORMATION AND FUNDING: HOW DO THEY WORK IN EUROPE
The panel also discussed the issue of laws on the access to the information in different European countries. For example, in Italy there is a law that supposedly allows citizens to access information, but in reality when a citizen asks for it, he does not get an answer. A specific law on the public access of information should become a European campain according to Rosy Battaglia.
In Germany, according to Daniel Drepper, there is a law of freedom of information access, but the citizens and even journalists need to be educated about the questions they should ask when they seek information.
The panel agreed, that funding of the investigative projects depends mostly on the journalism funds or grants and also crowdfunding.
In conclusion Rosy Battaglia pointed out, that the presented projects operate on different approach: some are more focused on data, some – on investigation or on the involvement of the citizens. There are different projects working in Europe with these methods. They include social investment and “there is a great deal to be done”.