Bureau Local up for Innovation Award at the European Press Prize in Budapest, Hungary

The one-year-old project has built a 650-strong network collaborating on a wealth of local stories across the UK

The Bureau Local has been shortlisted for the Innovation Award at the European Press Prize and heads to the award ceremony in Budapest this week.

The European Press Prize has picked what they describe as “25 groundbreaking, heartbreaking, innovative and inspiring projects from 19 different countries; from Poland to Portugal, from the UK to Georgia”. We’re thrilled to make the list.

We’re up against five other fantastic nominees in the innovation category and the award will go to the project that best challenges the current boundaries of journalism with a new idea or method.

The shortlisted projects, from Georgia and Spain, as well as three others from the UK, are: maldita.es for Damned Hoax (Maldita Bulo), Coda Story for Jailed for a Like, eldiario.es for Enslaved Land, Bellingcat for Finding Bana and The Thomson Reuters Foundation News for The Smuggling Game.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism launched the Bureau Local in March 2017 with the ambition to create a collaborative network of journalists that combine ‘on-the-ground’ knowledge with innovative investigative techniques in order to tell important local and national stories.

In just under a year this network has grown to count more than 650 members, who’ve collaborated on nine different investigations covering topics, such as the power of new voters in the 2017 UK general electionthe rise of “megafarms” and discriminatory immigration practices.

A collaborative investigation into the impact of cuts to domestic violence refuges produced 55 local news stories across the country, as well as a national report on Channel 4 News. Reporters were provided with datasets gathered by the Bureau Local using a mix of open government data, FOI responses and a survey of refuge managers.

One of the stories from our “No Refuge” project

In February this year, the Bureau Local organised more than 160 people in five different cities (London, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle and Coventry) on the same day to investigate local council finances. This stoked an investigation that has already produced 20 local stories, was featured as an ITV television report and hit the front page of The Times of London.

By building and opening national databases and by collaborating with the local reporters, Bureau Local aims to provide the evidence that connects local and national narratives. Doing so is an effort to make the process of working with data to tell stories not a broadcast but a discussion.

Working to make information more accessible, the Bureau Local creates unique ‘reporting recipes’ for each investigation explaining how the data can be used and interrogated.

A great strength of the network is the diversity of backgrounds of those involved, including not only reporters but also technologists, data scientists, academics, students, designers, all adding their skills and expertise to this ongoing collaborative journalism project.

The Bureau Local is funded by Google’s Digital News Initiative and Open Society Foundations.

Header image, of the Hungarian Parliament in Budapest, by Serge Bystro (CC BY 2.0)