Politicians who jumped the vaccination queue

Country/area: Spain

Organisation: Maldita.es

Organisation size: Small

Publication date: 20/1/2021

Credit: Sergio Sangiao, Adela Vived, Rubén Díaz, Nacho Calle y José Molina.

Biography: The project has been created by Maldito Dato, the section specialised in data journalism, investigation and FOIA of Maldita.es, a media outlet focused on fact-checking.

A large part of the Maldito Dato team (Sergio Sangiao, Adela Vived, Rubén Díaz and José Molina) and the deputy director of Maldita.es, Ignacio Calle, participated in this monitoring of the vaccination of Spanish politicians.

Project description:

Maldita.es compiled in a systematic way the cases of politicians and public representatives who jumped the vaccination line in Spain. The analysis of the data made possible to see in which areas of the country the vaccination protocol was being breached the most or which political parties were taking the most doses unnecessarily.

Maldita.es was the first media to provide this information, and then others began to do same. It’s the only media that has continued to review, update and to monitor what has become of those politicians who jumped the line a year after vaccination began.

Impact reached:

The impact of the first report in which Maldita.es compiled all the cases from its own database of politicians who skipped the vaccination queue had a brutal impact in Spain.

Many media started to cover the data we collected about these cases and many others created similar pieces, although most of them were gradually abandoned.

In addition, many politicians took up Maldita.es’s maps and graphics in person to denounce opponents who were skipping the vaccination queue. There were spokespersons of political parties in Spain who showed the Maldita.es map of vaccinated politicians printed in large size in the Congress and in electoral debates on prime time television. A large number of politicians from different parties (especially the parties with the fewest cases) have also shared this information on social networks and on their websites. This information has undoubtedly been one of Maldita.es’s most impactful in 2021.

We then looked at what had become of the politicians who jumped the vaccination line in a new report in December: just one year after the start of vaccination. The impact was also very big. No other media was tracking and reviewing what had become of them in order to be able to audit their work and be able to tell the public about.

We were also able to reveal in December after obtaining via FOIA the vaccination data from the Health Department of the Region of Murcia (one of the states in Spain) and analysing it that 75% of its non-health care workers were vaccinated before their turn. Almost 400 workers. Vaccination in Murcia was a scandal because different politicians jumped the line. We were able to reveal and certify with data that not only high-ranking officials such as the regional minister had been vaccinated.

Techniques/technologies used:

– Building our own database.
– Data analysis.
– Data visualisation.
– Mapping.
– Photoshop.
– Case tracking in local, regional and national press.
– Automated searches in search engines to find new cases.
– FOIA requests to reach more cases and more information.

What was the hardest part of this project?

To have to track down all the regional press to accumulate all the cases from all over Spain. And to follow up on what was happening with politicians, especially in the cases of smaller municipalities. We tried not only to do data journalism, also the traditional journalism.

What can others learn from this project?

That new and different information based on data journalism can emerge from cases published in other media previously. To accumulate all the data and cases that are already public is an exercise that provides perspective and context and allows us to really quantify and see how serious a problem is, as in this case, to jump the vaccination line.

That data journalism must go hand in hand with traditional journalism: calling, contacting, asking questions, following up on cases…

That we have to monitor what politicians do. Instead of leaving the news once the beginning of the vaccination has passed, we have continued to monitor what has happened to them. It is important to tell people what has happened to those who have broken the law or the regulations.

Project links: