Drunk history: 43% of regional capitals exceed the limited alcohol permit
Category: Best data-driven reporting (small and large newsrooms)
Organisation size: Small
Publication date: 13/03/2019
Credit: Francesca Cassinelli, María Paz Fernández, Natalia García
How far from your home is the nearest liquor store or minimarket with alcohol? In Chile, most probably just a few blocks away. In our country exists a law that limits the amount of shops allowed to sale alcohol in each area and focuses on reducing the high number of alcohol consumption. #24Data analized the alcohol hops in 26 of the biggest urban areas of Chile and revealed that most of them don’t comply with the limited permits for their territory. The explanation points to local representatives trying to gain support from voters and a deep lack of fiscalization.
This report was cited in a project for law in the Chamber of Deputies of Chile, delivering information about the law and the current state of the alcohol permits around the country. The project, which aims to reduce alcohol consumption, proposes to forbid delivery of alcohol via apps. In its official proposition, the lawmakers cite our work regarding the amount of permits and the number of them allowed. Link: https://www.camara.cl/sala/verComunicacion.aspx?comuid=47335&formato=pdf
Also, when we posted this work in the social media channels of 24horas.cl, our users interacted with our content confirming that they perceive an increasing amount of liquors stores and markets with sale of alcohol on their neighbourhoods, proposing and acussing their local representatives of aprobbing those permits with the objective of catching voters.
For the realization of this project, the # 24Data team asked via Transparency Request the lists of current limited alcohol patents to each of the 16 regional capitales and the 10 most populated communes in the Metropolitan Region. We cleaned those reports (often in pdf or with an excessive amount of commercial patents that we didn’t asked for) and mixed that database with the resolutions from regional authorities that detail the maximun number of patent permits for each of the communes and their jurisdictions. Those documents were also asked for via Transparency Request to each of the regional authorities.
We used information from the National Service for the Prevention of Drugs and Alcohol (Senda) published in their reports of alcohol consumption at school age and in the general population, that data was disagregated by area.
We started this project from a tip from an anonymous source (telling us that a lot of jurisdictions where earning money from illegal alcohol permits) and the main challenge was obtaining the information to check that, specially with the reticence from the areas where this was happening, wich send us reports with numerical problems or with all the permits of the city (thousands) instead of the alcohol ones.
Finally, we had a challenge in the delivery of information very numerical and unattractive for the general audience, obstacle we overcome using visualization tools such as Infogram and Google Graphic.
What was the hardest part of this project?
The hardest part of this project was -with a team of exclusively two journalists- gathering, cleaning and analising all the information regarding the aprobbed alcohol permits and the resolutions wich determined the exact number of alcohol permits allowed in each area. We requested those records individually to 26 jurisdictions (via two separated Transparency Requests: one for the permits and one for the resolutions). Once we had the answers to our questions, we had to find a simple and effective ways of delivering that data to the audience.
Another challenge was to identify a link between the number of alcohol permits and the alcohol consumption in each area, wich we solved speaking with specialists in alcohol consumption and checking the records of dangerous alcohol ingest in the areas we investigated.
Finally, we focused in analizing each level of the problem: the people that consume alcohol in excess, the economic and political effect of closing an alcohol shop wich employs people, why the local authorities keep allowing more alcohol permits and how the amount allowed is fixated.
What can others learn from this project?
Others can learn that is not necessary (althought it can be easier and quicker) to have a big team to gather, clean and analise data. We are just two journalists that managed to work with a big amount of information and still make it work through creativeness, order and self-capacitation.
We also tried to be extensive on our treatment of the issue analizing different levels regarding to it (individual alcohol consumption, local government, political effects of the alcohol limited permits, national law).