Argentine website’s analysis of Nisman recordings wins Google journalism prize

(JTA) — An Argentine news outlet’s analysis of secret recordings concerning the bombing of the AMIA Jewish Center in Buenos Aires won a national prize from Google Argentina and the National Forum of Professional Journalists.

The Digital Journalism Innovation Award was announced on Saturday during the 6th National Congress of Digital Journalism, organized by the journalism forum, known as FOPEA, and Google.

La Nacion Data Argentina analyzed 40,000 audio recordings that included information on which Jewish special prosecutor Alberto Nisman based his allegation that the government of former President Cristina de Kirchner cooperated with Iran to cover up the Islamic Republic’s role in the bombing. The group also developed a database that makes it possible to search the recordings by topic or person. Nisman was found dead in 2015 just hours before he was to present his findings to Argentinean lawmakers.

Google Argentina recognized “the exploration and testing of different technologies to achieve the journalistic objective, one of which was the voice recognition to achieve an accurate transcription of the audios. The technology was unable to fulfill this task satisfactorily and this marks a way for Google and other industry companies to continue working on developing more and better tools.”

The analysis, which was conducted by 120 volunteers, uncovered several pieces of information that had not been previously disclosed. Among them:

* Iran’s local community paid bail to help a local activist accused of being a member of the violent movement Quebracho;

* A national senator from an official government party was discovered to be an active lobbyist for the Iranian government in partnership with local businessmen;

* Iran financed a local activist movement in favor of the Kirchner government that led demonstrations and protests against the U.S. Embassy.

Nisman was found dead on Jan. 18, 2015, hours before he was to present his allegations concerning the AMIA bombing, which killed 85 people and injured 300. His allegations named then-President de Kirchner, former Foreign Minister Hector Timerman and other government officials as co-conspirators in a cover-up.

Whether Nisman’s shooting in his apartment was murder or self-inflicted has yet to be determined.

The La Nacion data investigation is also shortlisted for the global Data Journalism Awards.

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