I am from Brazil, a country well-known for football and FIFA World Cup titles — and the host of the World Cup in 2014. Being a sceptical journalist, in 2019 I tried to discover the real impacts of that 2014 World Cup on the 213 million residents of Brazil: tracking the 121 infrastructure projects that the Brazilian government carried out for the competition and which were considered the “major social legacy” of the tournament.
In 2018 the Brazilian government had taken the website and official database on the 2014 FIFA World Cup infrastructure projects offline — so I had to make Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests to get data.
The investigation took 3 months and more than 230 FOIA requests to 33 different public bodies in Brazil. On August 23, my story was published.
Here is everything that I have learned from making those hundreds of FOIA requests:
Nas minhas aulas e treinamentos de jornalismo de dados, costumo falar sobre os tipos mais comuns de histórias que podem ser encontradas em bancos de dados. Então, selecionei 100 reportagens baseadas em dados, analisei-as e verifiquei com qual frequência cada um desses ângulos é utilizado.
Cheguei à conclusão de que, na verdade, existem sete ângulos principais para reportagens e histórias baseadas em dados. Muitas histórias incorporam outros ângulos como dimensões secundárias da narrativa (uma história de mudança pode passar a falar sobre a escala de algo, por exemplo), mas todas as histórias de jornalismo de dados que examinei levaram um desses ângulos como fio-condutor.
Neste post, examino como os sete ângulos mais comuns podem ajudar você a ter ideias para histórias e reportagens, assim como a variedade de execuções e as principais considerações para se ter em mente.
Government says journalist “extracted data improperly” — but the journalist affirms that he only used a browser’s Inspect Element tool, reports Beatriz Farrugia.
Data journalism has been at the centre of a political debate in Brazil for two weeks after President Jair Bolsonaro’s government made allegations against a data journalist — for extracting data from a web app developed by the Brazilian Ministry of Health to prescribe treatments against COVID-19.
However, the data journalist Rodrigo Menegat analyzed the app’s source code and found that, regardless of the patient’s symptoms, age and health conditions, TrateCov indicated the use of chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin — drugs with no scientific evidence supporting their use in the treatment of coronavirus.
“I just put in the TrateCov app that my patient is a one week-old newborn who has a stomach ache and a runny nose. The app recommended chloroquine, ivermectin, azithromycin and everything else. Crime, crime, crime, crime.”
Other journalists and broadcasters tested the app and came to the same conclusion.
Soon after the complaints, the app was removed by the Brazilian Government.
Accused of committing cyber crime
Then on May 25th, during a public session of a parliamentary inquiry, Menegat was accused of having committed cyber crime by an official of the Brazilian Ministry of Health: Mayra Pinheiro.
The parliamentary inquiry, opened late last month, is investigating the Bolsonaro government’s response to the pandemic. More than 461,000 people have died in Brazil so far.
Approved by Brazil’s Supreme Court, the inquiry is pursuing multiple lines of investigation, such as why the Brazilian government promoted ineffective treatments and why three health ministers were removed over the pandemic.
Naming the data journalist, Pinheiro said Menegat performed an “improper data extraction”.
“He was unable to hack,” said Mayra. “He did an improper data extraction. Hacking is when you use someone’s password, enter a platform, a system. The term is not hacking. Today we have the official report that classifies it as improper data extraction.
“He did improper simulations. [The system] was taken down for investigation.”
In another testimony session to the parliamentary inquiry the previous week the former Health Minister General Eduardo Pazuello said that the app had been “stolen and hacked by a citizen”.
“As a data journalist and developer, I only analyzed the source code which was public and available on the website of the TrateCov app, saved on a government server (https://tratecov.saude.gov.br) and accessible to any internet user curious enough to do this verification on their own.”
“The procedure has in no way altered any content on the platform”, he added.
Since the allegations Menegat has limited his social media accounts to avoid online attacks by government supporters.
“I am closing my Twitter account for more than an obvious reason, but I will be very pleased to show who wants to know how to use the Element Inspector to access source code from any website in the world,” wrote the journalist.
Other Brazilian data journalists showed support for Menegat and published content explaining the technique used to analyse the app.
Cruza Grafos (registration required) is an online visual interface where journalists can research political candidates, and relate candidates to companies and entities with an official registration number in Brazil.
The tool allows journalists to work with huge datasets without any coding.
According to Reinaldo Chaves, Abraji’s project coordinator, many journalists do not know how to code or even how to open a spreadsheet — a situation that makes some investigative projects impossible to happen.
“We hope the Cruza Grafos makes this kind of investigation easier and democratizes access to huge datasets.”