Rutas del Conflicto, a project created in 2014 that collected information from more than 700 massacres committed in Colombia, has worked on a methodology that seeks to incorporate citizen journalism based on an exercise of data journalism.
Through a combination of tools including an app for mobile devices, partnerships with radio and television stations in remote areas, and making their publications available on the Internet, the team behind Rutas del Conflicto, which is comprised of a group of students from the University of El Rosario (Bogota) and the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana (Santander), created a methodology that has enabled dozens of victims to tell their stories and to participate in confronting the data related to the massacres. Witnesses and relatives of victims have recounted their version of events and how they have survived the displacement.
The preliminary investigation of the facts is based on different sources, but their information is often unclear, as most crimes occurred in remote areas, where there is little presence of the judicial system. In the mass media, the main source of information, there are testimonies of the perpetrators, most of which are demobilized in the process of transitional justice operated by the Colombian government and paramilitary groups.
For these reasons, it was essential to build a channel of communication with affected communities in order to allow their participation in the project.
The research and the mapping data have allowed the team to focus the spread of information in the most affected communities through cross-media production of journalistic products. Most massacre victims have no access to the Internet for different reasons, so the project created a series of alliances with local media and social organizations to disseminate information. More than 300 people have contacted Rutas del Conflicto to verify data, which is then compared by the team of journalists, and to send their testimonies, which give a human face and story to the statistics.