The Flemish news site Apache is the first external editor team to use the secure workspace developed by the Dutch Bureau for Local Affairs. Thanks to a subsidy from the Flemish Journalism Fund, Apache enters the region with around four themes for a year.
The brand-new Flemish Journalism Fund selected eleven innovative projects at the end of December, including Apache Lokaal. Apache, which has been paying attention to local search journalism for some time, will be investigating the sale of public land and buildings in Flanders with citizens (journalists), experts and professional journalists in the coming weeks. A first public call was launched on Wednesday.
Such a form of participatory journalism, however, cannot do without good communication and a shared workspace. Apache looked at the Bureau for Local Affairs for that. The Local Investigative Journalism Foundation, previously developed a (VPN) secure workspace. In that environment, citizens (journalists), experts and professional journalists can exchange and store information, share working methods, enter into discussions and work together towards the end product.
Working together pays off
Collaboration is the key to strengthening local investigative journalism, says Pim Peterse, director of the Local Investigative Journalism Foundation. Via the collaboration platform, he works on, among other things, the Rijnlandroute project in Leiden. 'We have issued several Wob requests to local authorities, which will soon yield an enormous number of documents that we can open up in the platform in a well-arranged document structure. The journalists can browse the file and write together about the articles and scenarios for the podcasts. '
The foundation for the platform was laid four years ago when it became clear that local (investigative) journalism in the Netherlands suffered from cuts in local editors. At the European journalists conference Dataharvest, during a round table meeting on local investigative journalism, Peterse shared his ideas with journalists from The Bristol Cable and Bureau Local. Here, too, it appeared that cooperation is the key to strengthening local journalism. Together with investigative journalist Wil van der Schans, Peterse developed the platform that was put into use last year. "We offer a digital editorial space that can be tailor-made to the wishes of the editors." said Peterse. "It does require a different way of working, journalists are often not used to sharing information and stick to their own working methods, that makes sense, we try to keep all communication within the platform, but that does not always work."
Apache came into contact with the Bureau of Local Affairs at the European journalists conference Dataharvest 2017 and the VVOJ training day Local and Regional Investigative Journalism 2018. “In the spring of 2018 we worked with young journalists from StampMedia on a joint project on mandates and compensation from local politicians, but we soon drowned in endless email and unordered data, "says Steven Vanden Bussche, journalist at Apache. “It was my conviction that future collaborations had to work via a shared platform. We look forward to the added value of the collaboration platform for Apache Lokaal