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Mapa76: Database Journalism Reveals Abuses of the Argentine Dictatorship

In Argentina, database journalism is playing a critical role in investigative reports on the country's present and past.

Paula Gonzalo of Periodismo Ciudadano [es] (Citizen Journalism) highlights the work of journalist Sandra Crucianelli in this field and presents the Mapa76 project, a map that geotags and compiles information about the victims of human rights abuses during the dictatorship that ruled the country from 1976 to 1983.

Below is Paula Gonzalo's article [es], which is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0).

Mapa 76

Mapa 76

The technological revolution and development of tools and means of civic participation have made the present era an especially vibrant one for journalism and communication. Database journalism is one new approach that is helping us move towards another way of understanding investigative journalism.

From Argentina, Sandra Crucianelli, a Knight International Journalism Fellow, explains how database journalism, citizen participation and new technologies can come together in the service of transparency with prominent media organizations like La Nación [es], one of the country's leading newspapers.

Sandra Crucianelli leads a team of investigative journalists to track tax revenue for the country's public services. She helps train a team of database journalists who can extract and analyze this kind of information for later investigative reports “and invite the public to respond and participate.”

Crucianelli also works with the local chapter of Hacks/Hackers to create new apps for collecting and displaying data. These projects include Mapa76 [es], a map on which information related to the infamous “dirty war” can be geotagged, and information about the victims of human rights abuses during the Argentine dictatorship (1976-83) is compiled.

As they say on the site:

Mapa76 es un software de investigación periodística dedicado a la extracción automática de datos, análisis semántico y la estructuración de la información recopilada con el propósito de mostrar relaciones de manera visual e interactiva (líneas de tiempo, mapas interactivos y árboles de conexiones -treemap-) en la información relacionada con los juicios de la última dictadura militar y los juicios en curso. Esta herramienta debe permitir que el investigador pueda seleccionar y cruzar datos de diversas fuentes documentales para generar historias e identificar relaciones difíciles de encontrar y/o comprender por métodos tradicionales.

Las cifras oficiales de desaparecidos durante la última dictadura militar argentina (1976-1983) ascienden a 13.000, pero las organizaciones de derechos humanos afirman que son 30.000.

Mapa76 [es] is investigative journalism software dedicated to automatic data extraction, semantic analysis and the organization of information collected to demonstrate correlations in a visual and interactive way (timelines, interactive maps and treemaps) regarding the trials of the former military dictatorship, as well as ongoing trials. This tool should allow researchers to choose and cross-reference data from various documentary sources to generate stories and identify those relationships that are difficult to find and/or understand using traditional methods.

Official figures [es] estimate that there were 13,000 “disappeared” persons under Argentina's former military dictatorship [es] (1976-1983), but human rights organizations say that there were 30,000 [es].

In this video recorded in the National Archive of Memory [es], in the former Navy School of Mechanics (ESMA) –where the largest center for clandestine detention (CCD), torture and assassination was located– the Mapa76 team explains how Mapa76 works to display content from a database provided by the National Commission on the Disappearance of Persons (CONADEP).


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