After winning two prestigious data journalism awards since launching in 2015, the Peruvian medium Convoca has launched its first crowdsourcing campaign to build a global community around its investigations. Nuria Riquelme spoke to founder Aramis Castro about the project.
Convoca has become a reference point for data journalism in South America. With a team of around ten people including system engineers, computer technicians and journalists, led by Milagros Salazar, a professional with over 15 years journalistic experience, they have pioneered data journalism in Peru.
Their hard work and dedication in uncovering stories, including “Excesses unpunished”, a project on extractive industries in Peru, led to them winning News Data App of the Year at the Data Journalism Awards 2016.
In the words of one of their founders, Aramís Castro:
“This was the investigation that we feel most proud of: there are not too many people interested in investigating these kinds of affairs, because they are controversial. But we were able to bring it to light and give voices to those citizens implicated that did not have a voice, or were ignored, and this is the most gratifying job.”
“To give a voice to the voiceless is the most gratifying job”
Their investigative efforts have since crossed borders, collaborating with news organisations around the world, and participating in one of the most exciting experiences in investigative journalism this year: The Panamá Papers.
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“We were one of the three Peruvian media [teams] that had access to the Panamá Papers thanks to Milagros [a member of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalism (ICIJ)],” says Aramís.
“We were able to reveal the movements of a mining company that had outsourced businesses to hide their financial operations, among other investigations.
“It was really exciting to be part of this project and to work with foreign correspondents and experts.”
And to be able to continue this global collaboration Convoca have launched their first crowdsourcing initiative: CONBOCA, an idea focused on making their community grow with the contribution of citizens around the world.
With donations starting from 1 dollar, anybody can collaborate, receiving exclusive material or an opportunity to attend their school (“Escuela Convoca”) to learn about data journalism.
“This is not just extra money for our medium, besides the funding that we receive from the organisations that want us to investigate a topic, the classes in our school etc. but our aim is also to create a community network that is not just in Peru, but global.
“Everybody that collaborates with us will be an ambassador for Convoca. They could suggest cases to investigate and have access to our resources.”
They aim to raise $100,000 to help improve the community of connected professionals and to highlight the need for data journalism to expose the networks of power and how they affect people’s lives.
“Creating this network is not easy: investigative journalism needs a lot of invesment of time and money. That is the reason why this fundraising is important, but above all two things are key in this kind of journalism: to surround yourself with experts in other fields and to be in the right place in the right moment.”
Nuria Riquelme is a student on the MA in Online Journalism at Birmingham City University.