Poderopedia helps citizens expose networks of influence in Venezuela and Colombia

Award-winning transparency platform expanded from home base in Chile

May 01, 2014, 13:36 ET from International Center for Journalists

WASHINGTON, May 1, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Citizens of Venezuela and Colombia seeking to bring more transparency and accountability to their societies will soon have a new tool with the expansion of Poderopedia.org to their countries.

Poderopedia is an award-winning digital platform that maps who is who in business and politics. Launched in Chile in 2012 by ICFJ Knight International Journalism Fellow Miguel Paz, it enables citizens to expose networks of influence and potential conflicts of interest by showing connections among powerful people.

The Venezuela chapter will go live on May 3, World Press Freedom Day. Users will be will be able to go to the site, choose a country, and explore the networks of influence or register on the platform to provide information, documents and tips. The Colombia site will launch later this month.

Expansion of the project from its home base in Chile is the result of a collaboration with the Venezuelan Institute for Press and Society (IPYS) and the Colombian Consejo de Redacción. The project is also supported by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) with funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, as well as Startup Chile. The original Poderopedia project was launched with a Knight Foundation News Challenge grant.

"Making government and social systems more open and accountable is essential to building more informed communities across the globe," said Michael Maness, Knight Foundation vice president for journalism and media innovation. "Poderopedia is doing just that by using data to help journalists and the public connect people, companies and politics and hold decision-makers more accountable."

Poderopedia Chile has prompted a dozen stories about conflict of interest, political influence peddling, and who is who among the candidates for the presidency. The stories include exposing scandals such as how a senator who rents land to energy companies votes on energy issues, and how officials of a private university used board connections and mirror companies to take money out of the non-profit university.

Each of the new chapters will receive additional support from its own funders. The Venezuela chapter is backed by Transparency Venezuela through Coalición ProAcceso, while the Colombia chapter is under a program financed by Open Society Foundations.

The expansion is the first step in Poderopedia's effort to promote cooperation across Latin America to strengthen democracy and promote innovation. The project advances technology training for journalists and develops online news applications.

Since its inception, Poderopedia has attracted international attention. It was a finalist for the Global Editors Network (GEN) 2013 Data Journalism Awards and has won other prizes. It is currently nominated for the Bobs Awards, managed by Deutsche Welle, in the Best Innovation category. It also was nominated for its visualizations of power networks, its use of citizen collaboration, and its innovative open software platform.

Those interested in creating a chapter of Poderopedia in other countries should write to team@poderopedia.com

The International Center for Journalists advances quality journalism worldwide. Our hands-on programs combine the best professional practices with new technologies. We believe that responsible journalism empowers citizens and holds governments accountable. For more, visit www.icfj.org. Contact: Irene Moskowitz, Communications Director, (202) 349-7628, imoskowitz@icfj.org

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org. Contact: Anusha Alikhan, Director of Communications, (305) 908-2677, media@knightfoundation.org  

SOURCE International Center for Journalists