Project description

In the last year, as a journalist of Posdata.club, I have been fortunate to participate in important research that we have carried out as a team and that have helped to clarify social phenomena that are going through Cuba today and also the world.

This has been a unique year from the political point of view, because in my country the Constitution was reformed. As editor of Postdata.club I participated in the coverage of this process from the data, which began with the proposal of a draft constitution that was debated in different scenarios. Postdata.club wanted to help structure the debate that was also happening is digital spaces, and for that we created a tool that allowed to give the opinion in each of the proposed articles, while comparing the current Magna Carta with the projected one. In that space we managed to gather the opinion of experts, whose proposals helped the readers to vote informed. Along with the tool, he wrote texts that analyzed the process and compared it with the constitutional reforms in the rest of the countries of the world.

Also during the past year I was in charge of some research related to the change of power in Cuba, since a new president was elected and ratified in 2018. In my analysis I approached the executive branch and also the appearance of women in charge associated with decision making.

Also, as editor-in-chief of Postdata.club I have suppressed relevant research that has been published on our site and that has had a high impact. As a member of the team, I also teach the journalism subject of data in the Faculty of Communication of the University of Havana.

What makes this project innovative?

I am in charge of Postdata.club and in the project we are only three people, all working voluntarily, because we do not have any financing. As a woman and journalist, I think the approach we make to social issues from our site using data in a country where these are difficult to obtain, since most of the information that should be public is outdated. In this sense, I think it is also innovative that we have decided to use journalism in addition to new ways of visualization and representation that have never before been used by the national press, and that, in some cases, seem novel to us even for newsrooms from the rest of the world. . One of our most recent ideas, the audiotelling, consists of telling the stories in my voice and that of one of my colleagues while the data is represented. Another of our works, by show of hands, shows that we do not always need a computer or know how to program to do data journalism. These are handmade drawings that illustrate curious facts of our country. Another important issue has been to start using Artificial Intelligence algorithms both in the analysis and in the interactive part of our stories. This is something that we will continue to do more and more. Important and relevant in our environment is the ability we have developed not only to search for data but to build databases in a country where there is no open data culture. That's why we create databases, publish them and also teach others how to build them. Our works always allow us to communicate our stories, but also for the reader to interact and create their own contents, which is new to me and more than that: useful.

What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?

Thanks to the recognition that Postdata.club has obtained, and as part of my team, I teach the subject Data Journalism in the Faculty of Communication of the University of Havana. Together we have participated in international events such as the Latin American Congress of Investigative Journalism, COLPIN 2018. In addition, I was nominated in the Young category in 2018 in the Data Journalism Award, which allowed me to participate in the Gen Summit 2018, and act as a jury for the Editors lab. Postdata.club obtained the Online Journalism Award 2018 in the General Excellence category for micronewsroom and was a finalist for the RELE Awards 2018. I was also invited to write a chapter in the new edition of the Data Journalism Handbook, and together with my team we wrote about what happens when students and journalists decide to use the data. This chapter was already released in the beta version of the Handbook. All the texts published in Postdata.club on the topic of executive power in Cuba had a high scope, while they were used as a source for other journalistic texts and research. The text Féminas in the Ejectutivo was novel in that it demonstrated that women have never had a broad presence in the executive branch in Cuba, although this has grown over time. In turn, the texts Ministries in Cuba and Council of Ministers, analyzed at the time the history of the executive power in Cuba, and compared these powers with the way they are organized in other countries. These works allowed the Ubanians to learn about the executive, how it is designated and what mediations go through that process, in order to explain the country's policy. Also the texts that I wrote about topics that would be reformed with the new constitution were of impact. The referral to the new councils of the provincial administration, and in general to the format in which the municipalities will be addressed was much discussed in the networks, and it was illustrative, because we are faced with a new administration that not many understand. Also in "How Constitutions are reformed" we analyzed the Magna Carta of 165 countries to compare that process with the one that was being carried out in our country. The text and the data it provided were useful tools for other investigations. At the end of the process of the approval of a new constitution, when the referendum happened and the new document was approved by the readers, we wrote a text in which we approached the whole process, from the initial project and going through the discussion and creation of the final document. This was an extensive text that made an approach from different points of view to what changes had occurred during the process and the possible reasons for them. This text was significant, because it analyzed statistically the real changes made to the project and those changes that only affected the drafting. In addition, the text approaches some key words and the proportion in which they were used in the project and in the final document, as well as an analysis by title of the constitution of the changes that would really be evident from the moment in which the new constitution go into effect.

Source and methodology

We follow general guidelines: use public data, that history can be verified and that each story has its own design. The first we do it is to find the data. Sometimes, the least, we are lucky and find the data completely but most of the time we have to create our own databases manually or using computational tools that we also create. Next, it's data verification, for this we use different sources that we cross to verify all the information. After that we start the data analysis process where we discuss the main ideas and the use of different tools like AI algorithms, Natural Language Processing tools, numeric approaches, social network analysis, etc. Then, based on certain hypotheses that arise we get the insights, those will be the core for telling the stories Later we discuss how the story should be told, what other elements or journalistic techniques are needed and what could be the best visualizations that can accompany the work and how we can innovate a little more about what has been done. Finally, after the visualizations are built, the reporting and interviewing, then the writing of the work and its final packaging are made. The published article will tell you where the data came from, how to obtain it and how it was done. Also, we open the data we have used. Besides that, as we are based on Github, everyone at any moment can see our data, our code, our history. It's also important that we check how the article should be visualized in different formats and devices (PC, tablet, laptop) and try to made the adjusments to have a good visualization in the different devices. Also, we try that all the information you need for the article it's downloaded at the beginning so once you open the work you don't need to create any other connection so you que use the graph and interactions offline, this is very importan for the connectivity conditions of Cuba. This is no always possible to acomplish but we always try to do it if we can.

Technologies Used

We use github as our work platform, so all our articles, databases and tools used are available for study and use by whoever is interested. In this way, publishing is simply committing to our github repository. On the other hand, we have always used the JSON format as the basis for the data that our stories use. In order to create databases it has been necessary to use tools such as pdftotext, download web pages using wget or scrapy, or create our own programs in python to process the data. Some times we use SQL language and SQLite client for getting data of traditional databases, Many times we have created CSV files as intermediate formats to be processed with python or with LibreOffice. All the data analysis is done in python. Class libraries like Numpy, NLTK, Scikit Learn, Spacy, Keras and NetworkX have been used. These have allowed us to do statistical processing, natural language processing, clustering, supervised learning and network analysis. All the web pages have been programmed by us using HTML5, CSS and Javascript. Jquery has been used for processing the HTML DOM. Likewise, D3.js and C3.js are the main libraries used for graphics although Echarts.js has also been used. Jvectormap and Leafletjs have also been used for working with maps and also Google Maps for geographical localization and verification. We used Soundclud and its Widget API for working with sounds, and Twotone.io for sonifications. Other libraries of classes used have been Tooltipster, Horizon-swiper, Simptip, Boostrap-treeview among others. For text searching in the data apps and text interactions we used Lunr javascript library and also Fusejs.

Project members

Saimi Reyes Yudivián Almeida Ernesto Guerra

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