Rouguyata SallSebastie MastrandreasLena WurgelSylvain PouletEtienne MerleMarius RivièreClara CarlesimoMathilde VicenneuxThomas BaritaudIsma PoirierJules IczDavid RahmilGurven MoecRemi GuillevicMathilde Ruchou Maud Van de Wiele
Politics Watch is a free-to-use practical tool, inspired from citizen journalism and activism. The project takes the form of a researchable database on the criminal past of French politicians, along with statistical comments and a forthcoming editorial project focusing on the relationship with elected official and the justice system.It was published in June 2017, providing the public with the first publicly accessible criminal database about 577 French parliamentaries, just before the parliamentary elections of 2017, along with a statistical report on the most recurring offenses committed by members of the French parliament as well as a custom crime rate for each political party presented in our datasets. The overall success (fast growing fan base, support from the press and and numerous requests for interviews) convinced our team of 17 young volunteering journalists to develop the project further. Only a few months later, our prototype endorsed the name of its editing structure "Politics Watch, associative media", as we released an upgraded version of our website, displaying better coding and designs, but most importantly an extended version of our dataset to which we added informations about senators and ministers of the current government. The overall amount of our data representing, to this date, the result of researches conduced over 1000 French officials. We are now at the stage of fundings and hope to release a tool for online medias addressed to their audiences during political campaigns and elections. We are also foreseeing a crowdfunding campaign as well as a whistleblower campaign design to involve our own audience in the future development of Politics Watch. We\'re also thinking about developing partnerships with foreign newsroom in order to offer a comparative dataset based on our research model.
What makes this project innovative?
Politics Watch is as innovative in its intent as in its purpose. While everyday, more civil groups and activists borrow editorial or investigative techniques to the field of journalism, Politics Watch addresses an authentic public interest topic : the question of delinquency among political figures and offers to give it an in-depth analysis by the data we aggregate, comment and make researchable to the public. This while solving, in more practical terms, problems which are inherent to an web search for everyday users : so called "fake news" and rumors, e-reputation efforts to delete web information, but also Google referencing, which often foreshadows ancient convictions of a French official. For the most complex political scandals, taking place within a decade or more, our full up-to-date summary allows the viewer to have a concise and synthetic text, where mainstream newsrooms often write article upon article along with the ongoing justice investigations while omitting previous elements ; when they don\'t simply leave out the outcomes of a trial to their fellow competitors - divesting their readers of a fully documented piece on the affair they might be looking for.Politics Watch also offers a direct response to the abuse of the "Right to Oblivion", often abused by French officials who do not hesitate to attack media outlets reminding them of a past conviction, as well the French justice directive of "prescription" which prevents any legal investigation to take place after a certain time. This was the case for the ex-minister Denis Baupin, who avoided an investigation after close to 10 women testified against him for sexual assault, before their complaint was discarded by the French justice due to the events dating from over 10 years back.Last but not least, there are currently no groups, nor academic, governmental or non-governmental, who ever tried to give a statistical overview of criminality within French politicians.
What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?
Many medias come up with a one-time data project for the public. With Politics Watch, our database can be a reference and benefit the audience for every coming election process. This isn\'t only an advantage for the public but also for our media, because it will always benefit from the traditional mediaditic bubble that will create itself naturally during each election. This ensures our project to have a long-term sustainability. Our fanbase has been growing positively ever since Politics Watch launch. We counted 3000 followers during the first four months of the project, and 3000 more in the four next months, after the release of the extended version of our website. It has also met a growing interest from mainstream medias with a dozen of interviews and articles dedicated to this work.
Source and methodology
Our work went simply over mainstream medias databases of serious reliability aggregating tens of thousands of sources, such as Factiva, Davos and Lexis Nexis. Only recognized and registered French medias were taken into account to create our dataset.
For now, our website has been using open source Wordpress to display our content, open source and privacy orientated Piwik to measure our audience, and PHP and MySQL for our code and database. We also used specific investigation oriented techniques of web investigations in order to deepen our researches ; Archive.org, bolean searches, domains directories investigations.