I examined the data about lobbying in Brussels and analysed them in the context of the Qatargate
The newsletter episode was read more than 900 with an opening rate of>50 per cent. It was shared by a Greek MEP and by several members of the EU Public Affairs community
I used the newsletter format and R to analyse and visualise the data. I also developed scripts to turn EU-supplied XML files into proper open data, helping others interested in the effort. The code is public on my GitHub.
Context about the project:
Running this newsletter as a side gig, I have time constraints connected to my full-time job. Secondly, the real problem is the low quality of data – which I denounce – and the fact that the Brussels bubble is quite keen on accepting first answers as good. The last constraint is that it is hard to fact-check the data and measure their accuracy relative to reality.
What can other journalists learn from this project?
Data journalism is more than charts and numbers. Often, and mainly when it is about policymaking, the story is about data itself. Why do EU institutions report data that way? Why is the public record of meetings by MEPs outsourced to an NGO? These are questions that, when not asked, make fighting corruption hard, turning journalism into a vanity fair.