Sao Paulo, with the 3rd-greatest concentration of buildings in the world, after New York and Hong Kong hosted the biggest conference on data journalism on May 21, 2016 in Brazil. The conference organized by Escola de dados, and NIC.br  had participants from every continent of the world, thus giving a larger context of how “informediaries” are leveraging on data in writing compelling stories.

With opening remarks by Natalia Mazotte of Escola de dados, the event was kick started by thought provoking insights by panelists on how access to information has not been upheld by government institutions. “There is a particular trend in Latin America, whereby government announces to the world that they have an open data portal, however if you check the portal, you will find it was updated last a long time ago” explained Juan Manuel of SocialTIC. But isn’t this another way of “information – washing” as journalist will be deprived of the information needed? “Journalist should not wait till governments make information public, and also do not rely on the Freedom of Information Act before you start investigating, and that is why we are journalist” Manuel further said.

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Natalia Mazotte of Escola da Dados giving opening remarks

Although this was tagged a conference, it turned out to be a series of workshops in one. I love it! Rather than the conference style gathering of people, there were hands-on knowledge exchange sessions that can help participants leapfrog from being a traditional journalist to a data journalist. Sessions that followed the tea break included data analysis for journalist facilitated by Marco Tulio of the Open Knowledge International, which put journalist through how you can use rate, percentages, mode, mean and medium to tell compelling stories and how you can secure yourself digitally as a journalist facilitated by Vadym Hudyma

The data are always out there for journalist, find them, as they are locked in excel spreadsheets, PDFs etc. So Allen Johnson wanted to publish a story on how footballers and technical advisers were earning big in Europe, he found a spreadsheet from France Football Magazine, that has the 2014 salaries of football players and their technical advisers. Voila! It was also in excel, and not PDF (so he won’t be looking for Tabula or online2pdf to convert it). All he did was to use the calculation functions to find the highest paid player, convert the currency to his local currency, and find the average amount that was paid a player. Certainly, you can hand out three different stories to your editor with this table alone, and don’t forget this makes the rule of thumb easier – Start with data and end with a story.

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Marco Tulio taking the session on Data Analysis for Journalist

“I have signed up on so many website, and while doing that I use the date of which I first joined in as my password” said Cruz Delirios, “what? That can be dangerous, and I think you should see me after this digital security for journalist session, we need to do a one on one” said Vadym who was totally stricken by Cruz utterance. As journalist, and also a data journalist, hold on a second, a data journalist, also is an investigative journalist who uses data to trail his story, do let me know by commenting below, if you have other insights.

As anyone described above, you should, No! We must use passwords that are not in the dictionary as passwords; encrypt your hard drives, there are now cheaper ways to encrypt; use longer alphanumeric (combination of alphabets and numbers) passwords, so if you are using a 7 digit password, it will take up to 9.2 days, and on average 4.6 days to crack, while if you password is 12 – digit, it will take up to 2,536 years, and on average 1,268 years to crack; cultivate the habit of putting password on your start up screen (either mobile or laptop), I just did! Stop using finger patterns to unlock your screens, patterns are mostly same for everyone; if possible, do not use fingerprints, use PIN and passphrases. Don’t just get an antivirus, always update them.

Furthermore, if you have several passwords to keep, do not save them on your laptop, or write them on your work desk, or in a piece of paper, you can save them at lastpass.com Did you just say why should a newsroom be a target? Perhaps you should read how Newsweek was compromised and how much it cost them to gain back people’s trust, if they ever! Aside this digital attacks, a journalist can be targeted for  physical threats which can be confiscation of your laptop’s, video or digital camera, midget or your backpack, as such you need to always have a backup of your hard drive (probably in the cloud); always copy out data on your video or digital camera immediately after use; and always watch out for someone behind your shoulder – you can be trailed!

You might think you will be covered by human rights law as it regards information, or as a whistle blower, but that is not the case. Even in Australia,with a freedom rating of one, meaning the best in the world, their Border Force Act of last year stated that any disclosure by any current former worker of “protected information” is punishable by up to two years in Prison which led us to the discussion or privacy and transparency at the panel that followed the data literacy workshops that took place after lunch.

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Daniel Brammati sharing his work on using data to find Maria Magdalena Tiul Ac

Is Panama Papers or Wikileaks the kind of journalism we should entrench? Shouldn’t journalist consider the motives behind finding this set of data referred to as leaks before publishing them? Fernanda Becker of Intergentes, and Joana Veron of Coding Rights says yes to the latter , and No to the first. Both largely emphasised that journalist should consider that they do not have rights that can protect them, while Vadym Hudyma reiterated the importance of engaging governments at the legislative level, in such a way that they are not allowed to pass bills that encourage their own privacy.

Absolutely, the quest for data journalism is increasing, and great works other than leaks are ongoing, as we saw in the works of Antonio Cucho who worked on tracking electoral data Ojo Publico in Peru; Daniel Villatoro mapping Data in Central America through Plaza Public;Luisa Brito engaging on Data Journalism on TV Globo in Brazil; Daniel Bramatti, using death data to find Maria Magdalena Tiul Ac who has been missing for over 1 year, 1 month and 5 days in Guatemala, and Daniela Flower’s work on Mapping LGBT fobia in Brazil on Huffpost Brazil

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