This project is about the importance of using and promoting stories based on data journalism through new platforms, with the aim of countering online misinformations.
Through this work, we created journalistic content (based on data journalism) for Chequeado’s social media pages and more specifically for TikTok, where we have published data visualizations that function as the main input for videos destined for that platform.
The topics covered, limited only by the availability of official data, ranged from the analysis of public services to university education in Argentina.
We found a successful format that allows us to spread data visualizations within TikTok: so far, our videos have reached to more than 100,000 users. This allowed us, along with other formats, to double our number of followers on the platform (@chequeado).
The visualization of data in new formats such as TikTok allows the information to be presented in a clear, interactive and understandable way for the user. Plus, it doesn’t require advanced technical video editing skills for a post to have a lot of reach. Our mission is to communicate complex ideas and concepts in an effective and attractive way.
The experimentation with this format also led to the presentation of a highly attended workshop at the 2022 Media Party celebrated in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in which we shared our work processes and our learning with hundreds of colleagues and media professionals.
To collect data we wanted to share it with our community, we scraped official data in closed format from an R script executed once every 24 hours. We also did cleaning and data processing with R.
When it came to finally finding the way of presenting this information, we used Flourish to create our visualizations, OBS for screenshots and Adobe for all video editing in different formats.
Context about the project:
Access to data in Argentina can be problematic. Generally, not due to political issues, but because of the lack of the technology and infrastructure needed for this type of projects.
For this reason, we consider it is important to highlight the big role that open records requests have (similar to FOIA), which allowed us to create and share our content.
At the same time, whenever an open records request was not enough for us to be able to get the information we needed, we highlighted the role of techniques such as data scraping on government sites. As will be seen later, one of the published stories was only possible thanks to this technique.
What can other journalists learn from this project?
Our greatest learning was to understand that, if we make the effort to adapt the stories we want to tell to the narratives that a platform like TikTok proposes, the audience will respond with interest. We have achieved this without sacrificing the methodology of data journalism or the intention to show all facets of each database with which we have worked. Therefore, what other journalists can learn is that you should not transform your own prejudices into limitations.
In Chequeado, we identified as well that although there are several sites and media that use data visualizations, they were not focused on short video formats such as TikTok and Reels. Social media platforms such as TikTok not only allow the information to be presented in a clear and innovative way, but they also give us journalists and communicators amazing tools to create it with.
It is a format that allows us to show quantitative evidence on current affairs, which is something that Chequeado does as DNA of its identity.