CEE/Newsletter/November 2017/Contents/Bulgaria report
Bulgaria report: Media transparency and wildlife on focus
- By Spiritia
Wiki4MediaFreedom edithaton for journalists
For the second time in a row, a CEE country hosts the editathon Wiki4MediaFreedom, dedicated to creating and improving Wikipedia content related to media, media freedom and media transparency. After the first edition in Belgrade in 2016, on 27 November Sofia hosted the editathon, organized by the Italian NGO Osservatorio Balcani Caucaso Transeuropa, in cooperation with the Association of European Journalists in Bulgaria and members of the Wikimedians of Bulgaria User Group.
Participants in this event were journalists from Bulgarian media like "Capital" and "Monitor", members of the Association of European Journalists, members of the Access to Information Programme Foundation, freelance journalists, and students in journalism. They all benefited from learning about Wikipedia from experienced wikimedians from Italy, Serbia, Germany and the Bulgarian Wikimedians Dimitar Dimitrov, Justine Toms and Vassia Atanassova. Both the participants and the wiki mentors worked together to improve, update, and translate Wikipedia articles concerning media freedom and pluralism, access to information and media transparency in Bulgaria and South-Eastern Europe.
This year, in addition to the activities in Wikipedia, the event included a Wikidata track on how to use Wikidata to find data for investigative journalism and for transparency and accountability projects. The audience was shown how to edit and add information to Wikidata, and how to run SPARQL queries. The Wikidata track has been developed by the British NGO MySociety, moving from their previous experience with Wikidata within the project "EveryPolitician", aiming at gathering and sharing data on all politicians.
Students uploading wildlife photos to Commons
In the frames of a project, supported by one of the mobile operators in Bulgaria, m-Tel, named "Hi-tech Explorers of Wildlife", students from the 51st High School "Elisaveta Bagryana" are uploading photos to Wikimedia Commons, taken during their summer trips in Vitosha Nature Reserve and the protected area Dragoman Marsh. With these photos, the students are learning how to contribute to one of the sources of information they mostly use in general, Wikipedia.
This collaboration stems from the long-term collaboration of the Bulgarian Wikimedia community with Balkani Wildlife Society, who are partnering in this project. During the summer, ecologists from the Society organized several trips with the students, aimed at placing camera traps in nature, demonstration of drones, and exploring plant and animal species inhabiting two of the protected territories most closely located to the capital Sofia.
While both Vitosha Mountain and Dragoman Marsh are well covered in terms of landscape view and photos of their flora and fauna, the project aims to engage students in better documenting the local wildlife species in these territories. And if the recreational and educational aspects of the project are obvious, one of the benefits of these activities may not be so self-evident. Usually, the articles about protected territories contain sections "Flora" and "Fauna" and illustrative images of the plant and animal species typical for these habitats. Quite often, however, the chosen illustrations are not of individuals, photographed in these protected areas! For instance, in the article about Dragoman Marsh in Bulgarian Wikipedia, we discovered that the photo of the short-toed snake eagle (Circaetus gallicus) was one authentically made in France, the white stork (Ciconia ciconia) was captured in Poland, and the photo of the Eurasian wigeon (Anas penelope) was made in England, and the bird is not even in the wild, but is a captive one! And this is an important consideration, that while the images in the articles about certain species may legitimately come from the whole geographic range inhabited by them, the articles about specific protected territories should only be illustrated with photos made within this territory, because of possible habitat-based variations of the species and physical differences across the geographic range.
During a short public lecture on Wikipedia, the students in 51st High School were shown how to upload their pictures using the Upload tools of Commons and the Commons app for smartphones, which proved to be much easier for them to work with. Special attention was paid both to the meaning of the free licenses Creative Commons, as well as the importance of giving precise and detailed filenames and file descriptions, which will further ensure the better usability of the contributed content. With one of the uploaded files, a demonstration was also made of how the contributed photos can be directly used within the articles.