Maldito Dato is a project of the non-profit Spanish media outlet Maldita.es. In Maldito Dato we belittle the statements of politicians with research through requests for public information and data journalism methodology. During the last year Maldito Dato had published more than 400 pieces and all of them used public information, data systematization and analysis and traditional reporting techniques. This seven pieces show how our work method can be used in different topics with simple and clear language for all kinds of publics.
The content created by Maldito Dato had 1.065.000 unique visitors and 2.152.600 views in our web page in 2019. During the year our material had been republised or quoted in almost 100 media outlets in TV, radio and digital. Some of the media outlets that did it are Telemadrid, El Confidencial, El Español, El Mundo, Cadena Ser, eldiario.es, ABC and Onda Madrid, among others.
We also had impact in the application of transparency laws. For example, one of the pieces we are sending titled “Televisión Española paga 480.000 euros a Shine Iberia por cada programa de MasterChef Celebrity y 490.000 por los Junior” (Spanish Televisión pay 480.000 euros to Shine Iberia for every show of MasterChef Celebrity and 490.00 for the Junior), was a long legal process to get the information that allow us to discover, for the first time in Spain, how many money the public television spend in external tv show. Or in the case of the publication “El 44% de los bares y restaurantes madrileños inspeccionados en 2019 presentó problemas de higiene: consulta qué incumplieron y sus inspecciones” (The 44% of the pubs and restaurants inspected in Madrid in 2019 had hygiene problems) was the first time that the local administration of Madrid delivered this data to public, and now is a tool for social audit.
We have our working methodology open and public in our website. This methodology defines how we choose the statements of the politicians that we verify based on the viralization and the affirmations that contain facts or statistics. We use fact-checking tools to verify it at first, then we consult public sources through the information we get with FOIA requests. We usually use R, Python, SQL and spreadsheets for databases and analysis, Flourish for data visualizations and we also have a system, developed internally, to organize and follow the process of FOIA requests.
What was the hardest part of this project?
The most difficult part of creating and maintaining Maldito Dato is the permanent monitoring of all political sources in the country and the systematization and creation and maintenance of updated databases to refute politicians and provide valuable information to citizens.
What can others learn from this project?
Others can learn from this project that data journalism, fact-checking and transparency can be use to dismantle the politicians lies. Maldito Dato is the proof that with little resources and a little team you can do journalism using the best methodology and techniques and become a public service.
Other projects also can learn that data journalism should not be all the time about big projects and complicated visualizations, but rather be a public service with simple languages to reach even more public.