#referendum17aprile: "La Stampa" published the analysis carried out by Alkemy Lab and Catchy

A data journalism experiment that offers new and accurate information on the less discussed issues of the referendum of Sunday April 17

Referendums are emblematic cases of the difficulty of obtaining information experienced by the main key players: the citizens. The referendum of April 17 was no exception. For this reason Alkemy Lab and Catchy collaborated with La Stampa and carried out a data journalism experiment. The purpose was to give the readers an extra instrument to form their own opinion. The success of the idea was confirmed by the many shares on the social media of the two articles and by the interactions with the published maps and charts. The map made for the first article received more than 48,000 views. The maps made for the second article, instead, reached a total of about 85,000 views: 43,000 views of the map about the relationship between production and energy requirements in Italy, and about 42,000 view of the map on electricity from renewable sources in Europe.

Journalists and data scientists of Alkemy Lab and Catchy immersed themselves in databases to find useful information to clarify several issues of the referendum. The team is under the guidance of the journalist Gianni Riotta and puts together different skills. It presented issues and data overlooked by other sources of information. The research was divided into three separate articles.

In the article "Concessioni, piattaforme e referendum: ecco la mappa degli idrocarburi in Italia", published on La Stampa by the journalist Gianni Riotta on April 4, the focus of activities is the role of fossil energy in Italy. The article is an overview of the current situation, with insights about exploitation concessions, exploration permits for the production of hydrocarbons, the distribution of mineral rights shared by region and a focus on the level of the Italian production of different types of hydrocarbons.

The source of the information is the Ministero dello Sviluppo Economico, which makes available a large ammount of data through its website.

The data, updated to 2015, were illustrated with graphs and interactive maps made by the data scientists of Catchy. Their navigation allows to view additional information, broadening the experience of the reader. Maps and charts succeed, through innovative and interactive tools, in providing information that are clear, easy to read and displayed in a simple way for the reader.

The article "Referendum sulle trivelle, ecco la situazione energetica in Italia tra vecchie e nuove fonti" offers a focus on the energy situation in our country, with emphasis on the production of energy through renewable sources. The article was published on La Stampa on April 11.

The data collected through the website of Terna, the company that manages the electricity transmission networks in the country, allowed to build two graphs. The first is about the amount of energy produced from renewable sources, the second is on the percentage distribution of the energy produced by source type. For the article the data scientists created also an interactive map that shows the comparison between energy produced and energy requirements for every region. By analyzing the information of the Open Data website of the European Union, journalists and data scientists performed a comparative analysis of the situation in the various European countries. The analysis concerns the percentage of electricity generated from renewable sources on the total energy consumed in 2014.

The team conducted also an analysis on how the referendum issues were debated by the citizens. The work was carried out through an analysis of the conversations between Twitter users, using tools developed by Alkemy Lab and Catchy. The identification of the most used hashtags in the conversations about the referendum, happened on March 31 and between 1 and 8 April, were realized by monitoring some hashtags related to the topics of the vote. The results are illustrated through infographics that show the most used hashtags and their distribution in the selected time. Twitter and social networks are indeed places of discussion, sharing and deepening of information. What happens on social networks, therefore, helps to understand what, how and at what level a topic is debated by the citizens.

Focusing attention on the role played by social networks is the aim of the article “Sul referendum trivelle quanti sono i tweet a sostegno del Sì? Quanti quelli a sostegno del No?”, published on La Stampa on April 16. The analysis concerns the tweets posted by users in the period between April 3 and 14, and containing hashtags related to the referendum.

The data, extracted by the DtoK Lab company, allowed to identify and divide hashtags in the ones in support of the option Yes, the ones in support of the option No or for the abstention, and the ones not clearly sided. The maps created with the collaboration of Kode Solutions have shown the distribution, by region, of the tweets that contain the identified hashtags. This work has provided information on the level of the debate about the referendum on the territory.

The whole research is an example of data journalism carried out in synergy between different figures, contaminating themselves with their respective knowledge.