Daily Corruption: News Feed & Database is a response to the deficiencies commonly pointed out against traditional aggregate indexes, on the one hand, and to the constraints regularly affecting case studies, on the other. Its objective is to provide daily, readily processed, and immediately available qualitative data on a number of characteristics concerning ongoing corruption cases, such as public sector affected (commerce, education, tax administration, etc.), specific type (bribery, embezzlement, money laundering, etc.), range (local, national, international), resources (petty, grand) and organizations involved (executive, judiciary, military, etc.), and several others. Furthermore, this data can then be automatically employed for statistical analysis, thus providing a new quantitative instrument to complement current instruments such as Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index.
Hence, by being based on the daily input of data logs regarding corruption and anti-corruption events as communicated by the main media outlets of each country covered, the project aims to (1) limit the loss of data accuracy regarding the perception of political corruption; (2) drastically cut down the financial and logistic costs of conducting case studies in developing countries; (3) offer a constantly updated map of political corruption at the national level; and, perhaps most importantly, (4) provide an instrument for the follow-up of political will for anti-corruption efforts in each country.
The data is initially inputted manually by local partners of each participating country (the beta stage focusing on the Americas before rolling out to other regions), until enough information is available to train text classification algorithms and automatize about 70% of the process. In this way, the employment of text analytics tools will provide long term sustainability to the project, while the participation of local experts and international organisations (such as Global Integrity) as separate levels of validation will make sure that the quality of the data remains at a proper level.
With this brief introduction, we hope that established researchers and activists may want to collaborate with us by providing feedback, and letting us know other dimensions of corruption that could be integrated into Daily Corruption. Any other form of participation would also be welcome, as we are currently looking for regional coordinators and support members, and academic institutions that may be interested in actively hosting this project. The activities for which we are pursuing support are described under the following categories/roles, from least to most involvement:
– Feedback: Experts providing comment and recommendations on any relevant aspect of the project, such as variables of interest, values and their description/classification, quality and validity requirements, reference to potential partners, etc.
– Monitoring: Experts actively assessing the quality and validity of the data vis-a-vis the news sources (national or international), validating both samples and classification.
– Coordination: Scholars or activists familiar with corruption literature or research, providing real-time guidance and feedback to the regional operators of the system in order to guarantee consistency and accuracy of data processing/validation. Coordinators also support the first stage of the project’s implementation in their particular region.
– Data processing/validation: Local institutional partners assigning operators to the system, who manually classify national daily news on a number of variables using to this end the web form available in the platform. After the system has integrated text classification algorithms for the particular country, the local operators’ focus switches to validation, with only a minimum of manual input left.
– *Hosting: Currently, the Daily Corruption project is a private initiative, and is not administered through any academic or non-governmental organisation. Thus, I am also reaching out to private and public institutes that may be interested in formally hosting it. This step is of particular importance to engage with sources of international funds and so facilitate the expansion of our network of regional partners and carry on the desired global implementation.
There is much to be done to aid the work of scholars and activists, and the proposed database could provide the basis for the next wave of international anti-corruption efforts.