2023 Knight Award for Public Service winner

Where are they? What happened to the 5000 missing women that the State does not know how to look for?

About the Project

The purpose of the project was to make visible the problem of the disappearance of women in Argentina during the last three decades, that is, during the current democratic period. The issue had not been addressed by any Argentine media in a deep and systemic way.

The series of articles was published on March 8, on the International Women’s Day, and included news articles that were published throughout the month and also a specific campaign on social media.

On the launching day of the project, we published contents on the website and in the paper edition:

1) A special report that focused on three objectives:
– An investigation that exposed the inefficiency of the State to quantify disappearances, sustain searches and promote investigations with a gender perspective.
-A visualization of all the missing women that the Federal Search System informs with name and photo, and with the premise that the individual files can be shared on social media.
-The reconstruction of the history of 60 women who, at the time the investigation was published, had been missing for two months to 33 years.

2) Additional content:
-Two opposing stories that expose, on the one hand, the carelessness of the State, and on the other, the speed with which the State could act. The story of a mother who searched for her daughter for seven years despite the fact that the police had found her dead the same day she disappeared. And, the story of two girls who had disappeared from school and, considering the prompt intervention of the authorities, were found in an airport with the idea of take them to Mexico.
– A service-oriented guide that explains what family members, police, State attorneys and judges should do during the first 72 hours.

The following days we published more stories that help to address the issue and created content on social media, such as short videos explaining the dramatic situation or make visible searches for missing women.

Key project matters:
– Objectives. The investigation began with clear objectives: to include the issue on the agenda and report the deficiency of the system to promote improvements in public policy.
– Rigidity. Official information was used for the project. We made requests for access to public information and when we presented estimated figures, we checked them with five sources.
– Respectful narrative. We took advantage of the stories to connect with the audiences, but we were careful of the timing and the pain of the relatives.
– Purpose. The project offers a guide and each story we tell may be shared on social media individually.
– Alliance for a social media campaign. Together with civil society organizations “Personas Perdidas” and “Missing Children”, we set up a campaign on social media which purpose is to make searches visible, break myths and educate citizens about the best way to collaborate with the searches. Working individually from La Nación accounts or together with the aforementioned organizations, we created approximately 200 original posts on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and TikTok.

Judges Comments

The emotional impact of this project was astonishing. They reached back decades to explore the fates of missing women and created a guide to help the public navigate someone’s disappearance. They complemented this with stories on the impact of the disappearances on the families and friends left behind.