The core of the team is: Eva Belmonte (Civio’s managing editor, expert journalist in the analysis and treatment of public information), who designs, develops, and monitors all of Civio\'s investigations; David Cabo (Civio’s director, software engineer), expert in open data, public data analysis and budget data, among other fields; Raúl Díaz Poblete (web developer), in charge of front-end development and the coordination of graphic design for Civio\'s projects; Miguel Ángel Gavilanes and María Álvarez del Vayo, both journalist specialized in investigation, data and visualization."Catalonia has starred in one out of every three constitutional clashes between the State and autonomous communities since 2004" was researched and written by Miguel A. Gavilanes and the infographic was developed by Raúl Díaz Poblete."227 pardons for people convicted of corruption since 1996" was researched and written by Eva Belmonte. The app of the article was developed by Raúl Díaz Poblete.For the article "El 80% de las empresas públicas ignora la Ley de Igualdad en sus consejos de administración" which is translated as "80% of public companies ignores the Equality Law in their board of directors", was researched in collaboration between five members of Civio."Los médicos menos transparentes reciben más dinero" which is translated as "Less transparent doctors receive more money" was researched in collaboration between three members of Civio."256 armas de Guardia Civil y Policía Nacional han desaparecido en la última década" which is translated as "256 guns belonging to National Police and Guardia Civil got lost in the last decade", was researched and written by Miguel A. Gavilanes in collaboration with Raúl Díaz Poblete -infographics.In "Los hospitales públicos recibieron 18 millones de las farmacéuticas en 2016 en donaciones, patrocinios y pago por servicios" -which is translated as "Public hospitals received 18 millions from pharmacy companies in 2016 as donations, sponsorships and services", was researched and developed by Eva Belmonte, María Álvarez del Vayo and Raúl Díaz Poblete.Other contributors:In “English and Swiss doctors are more transparent than German and Spanish ones” Swiss data was provided by the investigation of Otto Hostettler and Sylke Grunhwald, who collaborated with Civio in the data gathering.Journalists from several countries collaborated on “4 years after the hepatitis C revolution, how much do new drugs cost?“: René Ammann (Switzerland), Petra Piitulainen (Finland), Goran Lefkov (Macedonia).Regarding "Medicamentalia - Contraceptives", besides Civio’s team, many people have contributed in this project. Verónica Ramírez (journalist from La Sexta TV, Spain, researched and reported in The Gambia and Senegal). Lucas Laursen (journalist for Scientific American and Resilience Thinking was instrumental in translating and English copy-editing). Giulio Piantadosi (video-producer for El Independiente, Spain, was key to edit the video). Maya Siminovich contributed with video and production in Israel. Pablo Duer contributed with production in Israel. Muna Faye contributed with video and photography in The Gambia. Modou Lamin contributed with fixing and production in The Gambia. Malyka Diagana contributed with video and photography in Senegal.Many colleagues helped us to reach women to interview in points beyond. They were: Carmen Santamaría, in Argentina; Alice Campanille, in Colombia; Petra Piitulainen, in Finland; Elsa Cabria y Ximena Villagrán, in Guatemala and Marta Orosz, of Correctiv in Germany.
Civio’s data journalism team is a small multidisciplinary group of award-winning journalists (3) and developers (2) who monitors public authorities through data- and facts-based research, throwing light on the blind spots in the system. They thoroughly investigate power, public procurement, pardons, conflicts of interest and many other important issues for the Civio Foundation, an independent, non-profit news organization based in Spain.Selected investigations carried out since April 2017 for this application cover topics such as Big Pharma payments to doctors, expensive medicine prices and public procurement, constitutional clashes between Spain’s and Catalonia’s governments, gender representation on boards of directors of Spanish public companies, access to contraceptives and barriers to planned pregnancy, presidential pardons for people convicted of corruption and missing weapons in Spain’s National Police and Civil Guard corps.Civio’s team, trough data-based journalism, has analysed and compared payments from pharma labs to doctors in four countries to expose, despite the barriers, that English and Swiss doctors are more transparent than German and Spanish ones; that, although pharmaceutical companies claim to adjust their medicine prices according to the wealth of each country, countries with lower GDP are paying higher prices for their hepatitis C vaccines than those with higher GDPs; that Spanish Government, despite denying it, has granted 227 pardons for people convicted of corruption since 1996; that 256 guns and rifles from the Civil Guard and State Police have disappeared in the last decade; that the 80% of Spanish public companies ignore the Equality Law in their boards of directors; that Spanish public hospitals received 18 million euros in donations, sponsorships and payments for services from Big Pharma in 2016; that Catalonia has starred in one out of every three constitutional clashes between the State and autonomous communities since 2004; that family planning, or choosing if you want to have children, and when and how, is a right but 12 of every 100 sexually active women aged 15 to 49 cannot exercise it; or that there are unmet needs in access to contraceptives in all kinds of countries, from the United States to Albania, but in the least developed countries, the rate is double the global average.
What makes this project innovative?
Data journalism is central in our everyday reporting. All our work is based on open methodologies, easy to peer-review and replicate. A principle that guides us is to master complex legislative, administrative and institutional procedures. This allows us to report on hidden realities often inaccessible to other media. For example, our knowledge about presidential pardons, which we started to investigate in 2013, is so deep that we are able to provide data that no one in Spain can, and even to prove when a Minister is lying on the subject.This deep knowledge of public sources allows us to provide information never published before (such as the cost of the new treatments for hepatitis C, covered by confidentiality agreements between Pharmas and governments) or reporting breaches of a law (as in “80% of Spanish public companies ignore the Equality Law in their boards of directors”). We also systematically fill requests of information. Civio’s team rejects “declarative journalism”. In the midst of volatile statements during Spain and Catalonia’s constitutional clash in 2017, politicians’ discourses captured Spanish media coverage. Our fact-based reporting was substantially original (in “Catalonia has starred in one out of every three constitutional clashes since 2004”).Our in-depth investigative approach also allowed us going far beyond press releases and PR operations. When news agencies covered Big Pharma payments to doctors, they published the -uncorroborated- statements made by the lab. Instead, we exposed, thorough data analysis, that precisely those doctor who don’t disclose their payments are those most rewarded by the labs. Or the fact that public hospitals are dependent on the pharma industry.We make public service journalism. In our reporting about the new social subsidy on electricity tariffs for vulnerable customers, we designed a tool for readers to easily check if they can apply for it.
What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?
We can highlight our impact in three contexts: in the journalistic ecosystem, in the public debate and in pushing for change.1) Dozens of media around the world use our databases or republish our work. Our reporting about pardons for people convicted of corruption or the cost –never published before- of treatments for hepatitis C are just a few examples. Medicamentalia’s findings have fostered dozens of articles in international media, such as EuroNews, Correctiv or La Nación. Most of them relied on us to report with a local scope. This collaborative approach has been assumed by many other newsrooms, previously reluctant to open up their databases, methodologies and licenses.2) Public debate frequently lacks evidence-based arguments and succumbs to anecdotal and partisan views. Civio’s data team provides both data and context to improve the public conversation. Lies and manipulation can now be fought more easily when discussing how pardons are granted or how medicines are acquired for public health systems. After reporting about “value transfers” from labs to doctors and scientific societies, barely reported due to absence of data, the situation entered for the first time in the public agenda.3) Many of our investigations have been the subject of interpellation and debate among deputies in Congress. For example, when several deputies questioned the Minister of Justice about pardoning corrupt people, based on Civio\'s unprecedented reporting. We proved that the minister and his predecessor had publicly lied on several occasions. Change also means providing a public service. Despite the lack of information from the government, over 6.000 readers have checked by themselves if they are eligible for electricity subsidies thanks to our apps. Many eligible families could have been left out.Furthermore, several social agents use our data to demand for social and legislative improvements. For instances, NGOs pressing for transparency and lower prices in medicines.
Source and methodology
As pointed out above, all our work is based on open methodologies, easy to peer-review and replicate. All our reporting comes from public and official sources, and we have never published anything we could not prove. We only deal with facts which can be proven and related to our specialized subject areas.In “English and Swiss doctors are more transparent than German and Spanish ones”, the Spanish data comes from Civio’s analysis of transfers of value as reported by 189 firms and associations. To obtain the British data, we downloaded and analyzed the database published by ABPI. Swiss data was provided thanks to the investigation by Otto Hostettler and Sylke Grunhwald. In Germany, our source is Correct!v.In “4 years after the hepatitis C revolution, how much do new drugs cost?”, although most countries conceal the price paid to buy these drugs in order to preserve confidentiality agreements, we managed to obtain data for some of them via public procurement records for completed purchases.In “Medicamentalia – Contraceptives”, the two main sources of data are the World Contraceptive Use of the Population Division of the United Nations and the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). We analysed and combined these with other data, such as income levels or family planning difficulties. Both are based on surveys of women.In “227 pardons for people convicted of corruption since 1996”, we scrapped data of the pardon announcements in the Official Gazette and used the taxonomy of the General Council of the Judiciary to identify which crimes are considered as “corruption”.In “256 guns and rifles from the Civil Guard and State Police have disappeared in the last decade”, we got the data via Freedom-of-Information request to each of the different law enforcement agencies and forces in Spain.In “80% of Spanish public companies ignore the Equality Law in their boards of directors” we used the search engine of the Ministry of Finance and Public Function (MINHAP) and companies’ websites to find and extract the annual accounts of 160 public companies in Spain and their board members.In “Public hospitals received 18 million euros in donations, sponsorships and payments for services from Big Pharma in 2016”, we downloaded payment files from 151 pharma labs. In some cases, we scrapped or used format converters. In others, the data had to be extracted manually due to the poor quality of the documents.In “Can you get the New social rate on your VPSC electricity tariff for vulnerable customers?”, we thoroughly analysed the new law to develop an app and provide context.In “Catalonia has starred in one out of every three constitutional clashes between the State and autonomous communities since 2004”, we analyzed reports by the Secretary of State for Regional Authorities and built two databases (one on disputes brought by communities against the Government and another on clashes by the Government against the ACs).