A research project for the development of data journalism as an open source tool. iData aims to develop the first Italian open source platform for data-driven journalism. The platform is fully licensed by Creative Commons, and will be linked to a range of communities that can cooperate in the collection, production and processing of data.
Digitisation has radically transformed the dissemination of information and editorial production, allowing for the development of new business models that are now the priority of entrepreneurs and companies. This phenomenon has been little studied, especially in Italy; but the digitalization of data and their dissemination through open source platforms can open up new opportunities for producing quality journalism.
The best examples of "data journalism" are found in the U.S. and Britain with the Interactive News unit of New York Times and the Guardian DataBlog.
It has been proved that this type of journalism, which is also based on the ability to analyze, correlate and manipulate large data sets with tools borrowed from statistics and from computer science, is able to produce a new kind of high profile information and has great impact.
Its development in Anglo-Saxon countries has been possible thanks to advances in both technology (eg: the digitalization and networking of government data as with the project data.gov.uk in the UK as witnessed by Tim Berners Lee), and regulation that guarantees citizens’ access to public data. The use of these open source data is also aiding the development of new dynamics of cooperation between journalists and readers, improving the implications for civil society and the transparency of sources.
The aim of the project
iData aims to develop the first Italian open source platform for data-driven journalism. The platform is fully licensed by Creative Commons, and will be linked to a range of communities that can cooperate in the collection, production and processing of data.
The data may come from public databases, public sources or be prepared by ad hoc communities. In recent months open data initiatives have multiplied in order to facilitate public access to public data, but they are not published by the institutions themselves (eg: dati.piemonte.it and openpolis.it).
Yet, other data types, such as environmental and health data still remain difficult to collect, because of current legislation, especially Law No. 241 of 1990 that restricts the right of access to information for "interested" citizens. In this perspective, the development of a network of citizen-journalists (along the lines of what has been done in Britain with the project Helpmeinvestigate.com Paul Bradshaw) is crucial because iData can collect data not yet published and also produce original data sets that will be available under the terms of the Creative Commons license.
Particular attention will be devoted to data that help describe issues related to environmental, health and economic development. Data sets and tools developed by the project will ultimately be tested in collaboration with national newspapers, schools of journalism and universities.
The organizations that will collaborate on iData will grant the data under open license during the project (similar to what is already being done by the Guardian and the NYTimes).