The research platform of the Bureau is the core of the organization and can only be accessed by Virtual Private Network (VPN). The research platform is running on a secure server.
Investigative journalists working for the Bureau and invited members, like external editorial teams, experts and civil journalists, can safely work together on research projects. The idea is that the members mainly communicate about the project within the secure environment.
The Bureau research environment includes a general space that can be accessed by all members, it contains general information like, for instance a press contact list, research tools and methods, mailing lists, and a blog with the latest Bureau information; and it includes research spaces per project, subject or localization, that can only be accessed by membership or by invitation.
For each research theme or research team the Bureau provides a customized project space. The project administrator can, in consultation with the editor in chief, determine who can access the different elements of the editorial space based on roles and permissions. For example the investigative journalists can access all the sections, but the civil journalist can only upload documents and read/write on certain pages.
Research space and subspaces
Each research space can contain several subspaces in different levels. For example, the project Dirty Local Affairs, a data project about contaminated soil in the Netherlands will have a general section on the subject with expert information, a list of all contaminated locations per province, reports and other resources. In the subspace per province or city, local journalists can work together on local cases and share expertise in the top-level research space.
The Bureau developed a template for investigative journalism that can be customized per project: the research question(s), methods and techniques, interviews, resources, check and balance, contact lists, log files etcetera. The journalist follows a research process by taking the different steps that can be monitored by an editor in chief or project manager.
The following sections are available per project. The Bureau aims to develop other sections on demand.
The members can share research documents like reports and files by uploading pdf’s, docx, audio- or videofiles and make these files accessible in one central location or only in their own projectspace. The files and documents can be stored in a hierarchical structure and read within the researchspace.
Besides the uploaded document the members can create working documents within the space and work together on texts: scenario’s, logfiles, resources etc.
Datajournalists can use an excel-like environment in which datasets can be collected and analyzed, this datasheet module can also be used to keep track of the project budget or an hour registration, templates for these functions are available.
A central agenda or per editorial space for special days or events.
Each research space has it’s own task application; the editor in chief and teammembers can keep track of the research progress.
The chat function can be used per research space or per user. This reduces the use of email or texting outside the research environment.
For more sustantial questions and issues the members can make use of the discussion section. This section can be used like a forum.
News and blogs
Members of the editorial team can share their activities or news directly with the rest of the Bureau.
Through an e-mail notification system, the participants of projects can keep each other informed of the progress and updates: a notification can be sent when new content has been created or when existing content has been updated.
Successful research can be reproduced by making a blueprint of the research space. In this way other local investigative journalists can make use of the methods, techniques and contacts of the source project for their own local investigations. This way double work is prevented.
The Bureau seeks collaboration with local news agencies, newspapers and regional radio and television broadcasters. The freelance journalists of the Bureau can work in collaboration with existing editorial teams. For example, in the project Dirty Local Affairs we will work together with De Limburger, a newspaper in the south of Holland. We will provide a list of local contaminated locations in Limburg and we will work together with journalists from the region to make stories that will be published locally, but also on de subdomain of the Bureau (smerige.lokalezaken.org). This same process can be applied to other local newspapers.
We are fortunate that the Dutch government made finances available for local investigative journalism. Journalist working for the Bureau can apply for subsidy per project. Journalist pays the Bureau a small fee for renting the research space.
The public can become member of the Bureau and can access the shielded part of the presentation website where they can follow the research process and collaborate.
We hope to receive donations and gifts as soon as we start producing content.