Research: “Covering Oil: Big Data, New tools and Journalism”
There is a great deal of scope for journalists to do investigative reporting on the extractive sector. The last few years have seen a general trend towards transparency in the sector so there is now far more data available than ever before, including data produced by members of the EITI and companies affected by the Dodd Frank Act. Such reporting is necessary if the media is to fulfill the role of the watchdog, particularly needed in this complex and often opaque industry.
Assisting journalists with covering the extractives are a host of new tools that enable journalists and bloggers to obtain and verify information, draw on citizen networks, work with NGOs and civil society organizations and crunch big data sets.
This paper will look at some of the new initiatives and websites, highlight some of the successes and failures in covering the sector and map out possible areas of coverage. We will consider how technology can help journalists overcome some of the standard barriers to exposure reporting. Technology, of course, is not a cure-all but can help counter the geographical barriers, resource constraints, pressure from government and advertisers and lack of knowledge and sources that have in the past impeded exposure journalism on the extractives. New technologies can both increase the effectiveness of coverage and the ability to disseminate information once it has been gathered. This paper will also briefly touch on the role international non-governmental organizations play in disseminating information and the impact of donor-funded networks.