C’è un paese dove il citizen journalism svolgeun ruolo fondamentale nel coverage di importanti eventi politici: il Mozambico, dove, il prossimo novembre, si terranno le elezioni amministrative. Il paese africano, infatti, si recherà al voto sotto l’occhio vigile di reporter non professionisti pronti a monitorare e a tenere sotto controllo il regolare svolgimento del voto.
Le operazioni pre-elezioni, iniziate già lo scorso maggio con la registrazione dei cittadini ai seggi, si sono concluse in luglio esono state monitorate da Verdade, il maggiore quotidiano del paese, grazie a Citizen Desk, un progetto realizzato insieme a Sourcefabric, una Ong ceca (con uffici in diverse parti d’Europa e del mondo) che realizza strumenti Web open source per il citizen journalism. Abbiamo fatto qualche domanda a Sara Moreira, coordinatrice di Verdade ed editor portoghese di Global Voices e a Douglas Arellanes, co-fondatore e Director of Innovation di Sourcefabric.
Ler notícia completa de Philip di Salvo, em italiano, no Observatório Europeu de Jornalismo.
Para ouvir a entrevista sobre o projecto “Somos Todos Observadores” com Augusta Almeida do Observatório Eleitoral Moçambicano, conduzida por António Rocha, acesse este link (a entrevista começa ao minuto 19:05).
Sourcefabric visited @Verdade in Mozambique to test Citizen Desk
Sourcefabric’s recent visit to @Verdade‘s newsroom in Maputo, Mozambique was a fun marathon to get the beta version of Citizen Desk up and running for the voter registration period that was about to start.
In a workshop in Berlin prior to the trip we prepared by inviting journalists and developers to propose solutions for citizen journalism verification. As a result, we produced this documentary-style video that gives a snapshot into the process.
A perfect match
We wanted to start testing Citizen Desk from the very beginning of the first phase of this year’s electoral process where more than 3.5 million citizens were expected to register for their new voter id card.
@Verdade a high-quality, free newspaper in Maputo, Mozambique, has the largest estimated readership in the region and focuses on giving its readers different possibilities to engage with their content. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to try out the potential of Citizen Desk.
Building a responsive system
We started by ironing out certain use case scenarios. For instance, we asked ourselves these types of questions:
What kind of reports were going to be submitted?
Who was going to be sending, receiving, assigning verification, editing and publishing the reports?
Which tools and equipment would be used?
Civic education agents for the electoral registration in the municipality of Catandica | Photo credit Flickr @Verdade (CC BY 2.0)
Though we didn’t have much time to get everything set, and we had to struggle a bit with some local constraints, in the end Sourcefabric’s visit was an accomplished mission. Soon after, on May 25 and for the two months that followed until the registration process finished on July 23, hundreds of reports a day started pouring in from across the Mozambican territory. You can read more about the registration process in Englishhere.
Centenas de “cidadãos repórteres” vão monitorizar o próximo ciclo eleitoral moçambicano, que arranca em Novembro com eleições autárquicas, através de uma plataforma digital gerida pelo semanário “@Verdade”, que procura garantir “uma maior cobertura” informativa do processo.
Os telemóveis e as redes sociais serão os principais veículos de comunicação dos cidadãos repórteres do jornal moçambicano “@Verdade”, editado em Maputo e de distribuição gratuita, num projeto inédito em Moçambique, testado ao longo do processo de recenseamento eleitoral do país, que terminou na última semana.
“Decidimos utilizar a nossa habilidade para usar as ferramentas de tecnologia que existem para tentarmos ter uma maior cobertura territorial do país, que é muito grande”, avançou à agência Lusa o director do semanário, Adérito Caldeira.
Durante o recenseamento eleitoral, que as autoridades moçambicanas afirmam ter tido uma adesão de 85% dos eleitores previstos, os objetivos da iniciativa passavam por verificar se “os postos estavam a funcionar, em termos de abertura e de equipamentos”, e se a inscrição era “fácil”.
Ao longo deste período, o jornal recebeu informações de cerca de 300 “cidadãos repórteres”, que, diariamente, enviavam, via telemóvel, uma média de 500 mensagens escritas, sendo que o número de comunicações feitas através de redes sociais rondava uma centena.
Utilizando a plataforma digital “Citizen Desk”, que permite que órgãos de comunicação social recolham e divulguem dados de jornalistas cidadãos, o semanário estabeleceu parcerias com as organizações moçambicanas Centro de Integridade Pública (CPI) – que tinha no terreno 268 observadores eleitorais formados – e Observatório Eleitoral.
“Quando nós temos um problema em determinado posto reportado pelo cidadão, nós tentamos fazer um ciclo em que o observador pode ir ao terreno – e, às vezes, ele está ali ao lado – e tentar saber o que aconteceu”, explicou o responsável, garantindo a fiabilidade das informações avançadas pelos jornalistas cidadãos.
Sobre a importância deste tipo de fonte informativa em Moçambique, Adérito Caldeira diz que os cidadãos repórteres permitiram ao seu jornal “estar em qualquer sítio onde as coisas aconteçam”, avançando como exemplo os recentes incidentes na região centro do país, protagonizados por ex-guerrilheiros da Renamo (Resistência Nacional Moçambicana, principal partido da oposição).
“Estavam os jornalistas a ir para o terreno, e já um cidadão tinha fotografado o primeiro camião que tinha sido queimado, porque ele estava numa coluna que ia a passar e mandou-nos”, recordou o responsável.
Para o ciclo eleitoral que arranca a 20 de novembro com eleições autárquicas e que termina no próximo ano com as presidenciais e legislativas, a 15 de outubro, Caldeira antevê uma maior participação de cidadãos repórteres no projeto, dado que o seu jornal se irá expandir, até lá, para as 53 províncias do país.
Armed with mobile phones, more and more people in Mozambique are monitoring the run-up to the country’s fall municipal elections, helped along by an online platform from newspaper @Verdade.
[Editor's note: The author of this post is working with @Verdade on this project]
Wider access to mobile technology throughout Mozambique is enabling a national network of citizen reporters to monitor the electoral process leading to the African country’s municipal elections in November 2013.
Collaborations between advocacy and media organizations are providing online platforms for people to report problems as well as successes in the run-up to the fall vote. During the country’s two-month-long voter registration coming to a close at the end of July 2013, Mozambicans grabbed their mobile phones to send stories and reports from throughout the vast territory.
Mozambicans who are planning to vote in the elections on November 20 had from May 25 to July 23 to get a new voter ID card. A reported 85 percent [pt] of the 3,598,003 eligible voters received theirs during that period, and turnout considerably increased in the last days throughout the more than 2,000 voter registration posts spread around the 53 municipalities that are going to the polls this year.
As expected, the first phase of the electoral process met quite a few technical, structural and human challenges. Hundreds if not thousands of reports were gathered in a liveblog Recenseamento ao Minuto (Registration up to the minute) [pt] on the website of newspaper @Verdade, the most read newspaper in the country.
“In the last day of the electoral registration process (July 23), at the primary school of Albazine in Maputo, the process is running smoothly”. Photo by Miguel Mangueze shared by @Verdade on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Reports, such as that of Nazarete Reginaldo, an observer in Beira, were included. Reginaldo took stock [pt] of the previous 60 days when the registration process finished:
primeiro os aspectos negativos constatados avaria constante das maquinas desde o momento inicial ate ao fim, isso em quase todos os postos observados.
O segundo aspecto, que também aconteceu em todos postos, foi a rejeição de outros documentos como Cédula Pessoal, antigos cartões de eleitor e presença das duas testemunhas.
A fraca afluência aos postos até a penúltima semana também é outra situação a lamentar.
Outra constatação é de vários postos onde muitos cidadãos não puderam recensear-se no ultimo dia, embora estivessem presentes até a hora prevista do fecho.
Aspectos positivos destaco o não registo de actos de vandalismo com excepção do ultimo dia, na EICB. (…)
Na EPC 12 de outubro os brigadistas sensibilizavam as pessoas de como se portarem no acto do processo. Registaram-se vários cortes constantes de energia que atrasaram o reecnseamento.
first, the negative aspects observed: constant failure of the machines [computers and printers] from the initial moment till the end, that in almost all stations observed.
The second aspect, which also happened in all stations, was the rejection [by the officials] of other [eligible registration] documents such as the Personal Certificate, old voter cards, and the presence of two witnesses.
The low turnout until the penultimate week is also another situation to regret.
Another finding is that there were several posts where many citizens could not register on the last day, although they were present until the expected time of closing.
I highlight the positive aspects of non-registration of acts of vandalism with the exception of the last day, the EICB. (…)
In the Primary School on October 12, officials sensitized people on how to behave in the act of the [registration] process. There were several and constant power cuts which delayed the registration.
Last day of the electoral registration in Nampula, APAE station, July 23. Photo shared by @Verdade on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
The newspaper is using liveblogging platform Citizendesk, which was awarded by the African News Innovation Challenge in November 2012 and is being developed by Sourcefabric, a non-profit organization that develops open source tools for journalism. Citizendesk gathers different sources such as SMS’s, posts from Facebook, tweets, photos, videos, and online content in general, allowing for “newsrooms to incorporate citizen reports into their news stream, to act as eyes and ears for the upcoming elections”, as Rebecca Chao from Personal Democracy’s WeGov puts it on her article ”Journalists in Mozambique Have a New Way to Get Help Reporting on Elections”.
Bridging the digital gap: @Verdade posts a selection of citizen reports about the registration process in its weekly print and also in the outer wall of the building housing the newspaper. Passersby can leave their comments which will later be transcribed online.
@Verdade launched a joint newsroom in the beginning of the registration process, partnering with the Public Integrity Center and the Observatório Eleitoral (Electoral Observer) for broader access, outreach, and coverage of citizen stories from across the country. CIP has correspondents in the municipalities and has long experience covering Mozambican elections mainly through its Political Process Bulletin. Observatório Eleitoral is a watchdog from the civil society that counts on 265 observers spread around the country.
After three days trying to get her voter card, Celina Simão from Nampula was happy when she finally managed to get it at the primary school of Barragem on June 5. Celestino Armando from Pemba got his at the secondary school of Cabo Delgado’s capital. Click the image to see @Verdade´s photo albums on Flickr.
The challenge is to create and strengthen a national network of citizen reporters who make use of their mobile phones to share spontaneous reports of what they observe. Jessica Weiss from IJNet explains how @Verdade and partners are building community:
(…) visiting municipalities and polling stations and trying to engage community correspondents. They are also reaching out to local civic networks, community radio stations, international election monitors, taxi drivers and more to help form a web of reliable information about how the registration process is working.
Citizens are helping to answer questions such as: Are polling places open? Are officials present and voters free of intimidation? Is the equipment functioning correctly?
Last day in Maputo. Photo shared by @Verdade on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Citizen reporters can submit photos and videos via Twitter — the hashtag #autarquicas2013 has been widely used and the handle @DemocraciaMZ is tracking democracy related tweets — or send them by email directly to @Verdade’s Flickr and YouTube channel.
So did André Salmone from the northern city of Nampula, who denounced in a video on July 22 that officials from the registration post in the city’s Sports Pavilion were allegedly taking bribes from people who didn’t want to wait in queue for their turn to be registered:
Citizens also reported on the civic awareness campaign which was carried out throughout the country by more than 2,000 agents trained by the government’s Technical Secretariat for Electoral Administration (STAE). Some criticized the campaign for not being visible, effective, or with enough quality, such as a citizen who reported a photo of STAE’s poster in the municipality of Marrupa, which wasn’t more than a lousy and torn handwritten paper on the wall.
Civic education agents for the electoral registration in the municipality of Catandica on June 6. Photo shared by @Verdade on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Primary school of Mavalane “A”, Maputo, June 1. Photo shared by @Verdade on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
The next phase [pt] of 2013′s electoral process in Mozambique, consists of the registration of political parties, coalitions of parties or groups of citizens who want to run for elections (ongoing until August 6). At the same time, the lists of voters who registered in the 53 municipalities will be available for verification and complaints should there be any irregularity, also until August 6. More and more, Mozambican citizens are showing how to keep the process accountable.
The municipal elections in Mozambique are over four months away but short-staffed newsrooms are already preparing to deal with the persistent conundrum: how do they accurately cover the elections with over 2,500 polling stations to monitor across the country? A new tool called Citizen Desk allows newsrooms to incorporate citizen reports into their news stream, to act as eyes and ears for the upcoming elections.
Citizen Desk’s beta version is currently under development by Sourcefabric, a Maputo-based nonprofit software developer. It will be tested on the popular print and online newspaper @Verdade, a partner of Global Voices and, as it claims, one of the most highly read newspapers in Mozambique. But with a circulation of 400,000, @Verdade only has an 11-person team. With Citizen Desk, however, papers like @Verdade can aggregate and verify real time reports from SMS, Facebook, Twitter and other sources. It can also publish these stories as a live blog and reward citizen journalists for excellent reporting, such as being highlighted as a trusted source.
To till the soil for the elections, @Verdade must first engage communities and encourage citizens to report come November. Last month, the @Verdade team began the process, reaching out not only to citizens but also civic organizations, radio stations and election monitors. They are training these potential citizen journalists to look out for voter intimidation, closed polling stations and malfunctioning equipment. Adam Thomas of Sourcefabric writes that they are “literally road-testing the human element of the network.”
The tool comes at a critical time. Voter turnout during the last national election in 2009 dropped significantly from previous elections. According to the Mozambican Political Process Bulletin, 3.5 million voted in 2009 out of an estimated 7.7 million eligible voters. The 2008 local elections fared even worse with only 15 percent of voters turning up at polls. In the 1994 and 1999 general elections, voter figures were 5.4 million and 4.9 million, respectively.
@Verdade’s Editor in Chief Adérito Caldeira believes that this new tool will allow for the freedom and transparency in elections and in turn, encourage greater voter turnout and political participation. “Until now, from the point of view of foreign observers, the elections have been free and transparent, but at the end of the day we know they are not. One of the causes of people not going to vote is feeling the elections are not free and transparent,” he told Sourcefabric.
After decades of civil war after its 1975 independence from Portugal, Mozambique finally had its first “free” general election in 1994. It has had four since and the next one will be some time in 2014. While international election monitors report that the voting has been so far well managed, they have also criticized Mozambique’s stringent voter restrictions. Further, in the last presidential election in 2009, there were claims of ballet box stuffing. The losing party, Renamo, accused electoral commission officers of providing the winning party, Frelimo, with extra ballot papers, allowing them to stuff ballot boxes.
The creators of Citizen Desk hope that the new tool will be able to resolve such disputes with so many eyes on the ground reporting in real time and with widespread adoption by other news organizations.
Until then, Citizen Desk still needs to be refined and to come out of beta. Those @Verdade also need to build a community of citizen reporters and check that there will be a healthy wireless network in November.
Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network and the UN Foundation for their generous support of techPresident’s WeGov section.
The editorial team at Mozambique’s @Verdadenewspaper is gearing up to report on the country’s municipal elections in November, and national elections next year. With 2,500 polling stations across the country to monitor, it’s a tough job for any newsroom, and especially for @Verdade’s, which has just an 11-person editorial staff.
That’s where an innovative citizen reporter network comes into play.
For the first time ever, citizens are helping @Verdade to report on the election process. They’re using Citizen Desk, a new toolkit that helps news organizations incorporate citizen journalism into their work online or in print. With Citizen Desk, @Verdade can collect, verify, reward and publish reports sent by citizens through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and SMS.
To test and perfect the new technology before election season, the @Verdade team is now visiting municipalities and polling stations and trying to engage community correspondents. They are also reaching out to local civic networks, community radio stations, international election monitors, taxi drivers and more to help form a web of reliable information about how the registration process is working.
Citizens are helping to answer questions such as: Are polling places open? Are officials present and voters free of intimidation? Is the equipment functioning correctly?
During the elections, @Verdade will use Citizen Desk to monitor various information feeds, verify the information, save notes in a contact database and then choose the best content and include it in dynamic, live articles.
@Verdade’s Editor-in-Chief, Adérito Caldeira, hopes that engaging the community will have a wide-reaching societal impact.
“We hope people … feel they can go vote and feel that each vote will really count,” Caldeira recently told Sourcefabric, a nonprofit open source software developer for independent news media organizations.
Citizen Desk’s underlying technology is based on Sourcefabric’s Superdesk software, an open source newsroom tool for managing newsroom organization, content delivery and business strategy.
The free, open source platform will eventually be available to any news organization. But in the meantime, @Verdade is helping developers refine workflows, beta-test the software, provide consultancy on mobile devices and reporting methods, optimize mobile wireless network capability, build the first functioning Citizen Desk community and more.
To maximize impact, the @Verdade team will be trained on live-blogging strategies, news business strategies and community management. Editorial staff will be trained to work with the platform and will help to write a handbook for the tool that will be used by other organizations in the future.
In the next phase of the project, editors will be able to tag stories to indicate how reliable or verified an SMS or tweet is. They will also be able to assign other journalists to follow up on citizen reports, add notes and background information, or connect the message to a contact database that holds a history of reports, contact information and more. And a media archive will store all pictures and videos for reuse later.
Rete, data visualization e citizen journalism. Ecco come Internet cambia le notizie. Alcuni esempi da Berlino, dove si è tenuta la conferenza re:publica
Anche il mondo open-source è attivo nel campo del giornalismo investigativo 2.0. CitizenDesk, ad esempio, è una piattaforma realizzata da Sourcefabric, una Ong che si occupa di creare strumenti e piattaforme per l’attivismo online. CitizenDesk è una sorta di Storify per aggregare dati e contenuti digitali in un discorso narrativo e fare liveblogging di eventi imporanti inglobando quante più fonti possibili. Il software è pensato per gruppi di attivisti e giornalisti che operano in scenari a rischio per aiutarli a raccogliere informazioni e dati in Rete. La piattaforma sarà testata per la prima volta inMozambico, con la partecipazione di Verdade, un settimanale e un gruppo di attivisti locali che si occupa di informazione, per fare il report delle imminenti elezioni nel paese africano.