Research: “The Vast and the Curious: teaching investigative journalism in a diverse Dubai”

This is a research paper that was presented at the Global Investigative Journalism Conference 2017 Academic Track, which IJEC organized and covered.

Yasmine Bahrani and Bradley Freeman from the American University in Dubai present research on teaching investigative reporting to international students in the Middle East and find that Western and Islamic values can come together in investigative journalism.

“What the paper sets out to do is to explain how AUD teaches, in English and in Arabic, investigative journalism in a place like Dubai where challenges include the country’s respect for privacy, and the absence of a tradition of access to a subject’s personal, residential, and work history or filling out Freedom of Information Act forms – matters that are readily available in the West. AUD professors apply what are believed to be universal practices in journalism. The students are offered the chance to know and understand Western-style journalism, but they often  end up practicing a more hybridized model, which incorporates aspects form their background and upbringing.”

Research: “The more things change, the more they stay the same: The impacts of social media and digital technology on journalism quality in South African newsrooms”

This is a research paper that was presented at the Global Investigative Journalism Conference 2017 Academic Track, which IJEC organized and covered.

In a paper for Media Monitoring Africa, Sarah Findlay and her colleagues dive into the state of investigative journalism in South Africa. While online and social media developments provide a more democratic platform for news, old dominant voices and narratives still reign in the news.

“While we continue to grapple with how the processes of news production are changing in the era of digital journalism, what is of even greater significance is how these changes impact journalistic quality. In addition, the ongoing revenue crises experienced by many media houses has meant that one of the few ways to ensure quality investigative journalism is by setting up dedicated investigative journalism units. What does this model mean for existing newsrooms? How has social media and digital technology impacted on newsmaking processes and how have they affected the efficacy and potential for in-depth investigative reporting? We undertook to study the changes to newsrooms brought about by the digital revolution and to understand how these shifts were affecting the quality of news and journalism being produced. We conducted in-depth interviews at three South African newsrooms and examined the media coverage of two critical events over a seven-month period. The research shows that despite diverse media being monitored, common narratives emerged about who was to blame for particular issues.”

Research: “News bot for the newsroom: how building data quality indicators can support journalistic projects relying on real-time open data”

This is a research paper that was presented at the Global Investigative Journalism Conference 2017 Academic Track, which IJEC organized and covered.

Laurence Dierickx from the Université Libre de Bruxelles compares quality assessment models for data and their journalistic implications. Utilizing these models, she analyzes the data quality of a case study, namely an automated news generator that is based on air quality data.

“This paper proposes a conceptual framework to assess data quality with a combination of deterministic and empirical quality indicators. If data quality is a multidimensional concept, the object is here to establish how to fit the needs of journalistic projects. Formal quality indicators are essentials when data are collected and/or automated. We can call it the technical challenge. Empirical indicators are also essentials regarding professional practices. We can call it the journalistic challenge. This part of the paper also demonstrates how and why data quality literacy is able to meet and to support journalistic requirements.”

Research: “Data-driven journalism: Visualizing the lie versus revealing the truth”

This is a research paper that was presented at the Global Investigative Journalism Conference 2017 Academic Track, which IJEC organized and covered.

University professor and database journalism specialist Milagros Salazar researches the role of data in journalism, its potentials and limits.

“Journalism is full of data, but not everything is data journalism. There is a difference between using data and establishing a methodology in journalistic research that has, as a fundamental aspect, the organization, analysis and verification of data to find a real story.

But data alone are not enough. It is important to verify them and put a human face on them in order to find a real story to tell your audience. If data are not tested against the situation “on the ground”, there is a danger that they will show us lies, instead of helping us tell the truth in order to help people take better decisions for their lives.”

Research: “Investigative journalism in the post-truth era: Views from Mauritius”

This is a research paper that was presented at the Global Investigative Journalism Conference 2017 Academic Track, which IJEC organized and covered.

University of Mauritius’ Azhagan Chenganna considers the challenges of investigative reporting in Mauritius, where there is no freedom of information and where journalists often dependent on leaks that are hard to verify in the noisy age of digital news.

“Journalism, investigative journalism in particular, is undergoing major change. This paper focuses on the investigative journalism culture in Mauritius and more broadly on the challenges of investigative journalism in the post-truth era in Mauritius. With the emergence of social media and the phenomenon of an amplification of news sources, investigative journalists are often solicited and obtain information from many sources including hackers and leakers. In Mauritius, leaked documents including electronic and secretly recorded materials have recently constituted the backbone of investigative stories.”

Research: “Challenges Confronting Investigative Journalism in Saudi Arabia”

This is a research paper that was presented at the Global Investigative Journalism Conference 2017 Academic Track, which IJEC organized and covered.

Ali Almania, a lecturer at Al-Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud Islamic University and journalist at Riyadh Newspaper, researched the state of Saudi Arabian investigative journalism in the context of how journalism changed after the Arab Spring. Legal, political and professional restrictions on journalism make it hard to do investigative projects. The rise of social media, however, seems to have given journalists more freedom.

“The purpose of this study is to explore the challenges confronting investigative journalists in Saudi Arabia. As a result of the prevailing political system, the gatekeepers of the Saudi news media have imposed legal restrictions on investigative journalism. This study considers whether the political changes that are taking place in some Arab countries after the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ in 2010 have led to more or less investigative reporting. Semi-structured interviews were held with three Saudi newspapers’ editors in chief, who were asked about their criteria for accepting or rejecting investigative stories.”

Research: “Raking Muck and Raising Funds – Capacity Development Strategies for the Future of Investigative Journalism in the Global South”

This is a research paper that was presented at the Global Investigative Journalism Conference 2017 Academic Track, which IJEC organized and covered.

In “Raking Muck and Raising Funds,” Nadine Jurrat and her colleagues from Deutsche Welle look at the state of investigative journalism in the Global South and take away lessons on how to run an investigative newsroom and promote investigative journalism.

“In a rapidly evolving technological environment, investigative outlets today face a double challenge: They need to maintain their independence, while also securing their finances. Apart from investigative media outlets and journalists themselves, those who act in support of investigative journalism also need to find answers here: journalism schools need to reconsider how to best prepare young journalists; donors and civil society organizations that fund investigative work need to review their strategies. And the same holds true for international media development organizations which run programs to support media viability, especially in developing countries.”

The Multimillion-Dollar Head Fake

The Multimillion-Dollar Head Fake is an investigative project by Jay Rosenstein, a University of Illinois professor of Media and Cinema Studies, on how the U of I spends state money on its athletic department despite claims to the contrary.

Below is the series as presented on Rosenstein’s website. It was also featured in the Huffington Post, the Champaign News Gazette, Illinois Public Media and the Chicago Tribune.

Lightning Round Talks Offer Tips on Teaching Data Journalism

During the Academic Track Lightning Round on Saturday, Nov. 18th, 10 professors and trainers based in countries all over the globe offered tips and techniques on teaching data journalism.

Data Journalism Lecturer Pinar Dag works at Kidar Has University in Turkey. She started her presentation with advice on how to adjust lectures to the audience. When teaching engineers, for example, an instructor might need a separate dataset more pertinent to that profession.

Associate Professor and investigative journalist Jeff Kelly Lowenstein from the U.S. talked about the kind of dataset that is most popular among his students: food inspections.

University of Illinois professor Brant Houston and author of four editions  of “Computer-Asssisted Reporting: A Practical Guide,” started his presentation by explaining the usefulness of data in journalism.

Crina Boros is a data journalist at the Thomson Reuters Foundation in London. She also works as a freelance trainer for organizations such as the BBC and Greenpeace. Boros’ presentation focused on what can go wrong during training and how to approach various kinds of students.

Jennifer LaFleur is data editor at the Investigative Reporting Workshop in Washington D.C. and became the first full-time training director for the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting in 1994. Her presentation focused on using two tools, Microsoft Excel and SQL (Structured Query Language), to teach data analysis.

Social Media, Video Storytelling and Capacity Building

During Friday’s academic panel, DW Akademie Project Manager Nadine Jurrat shared her findings on capacity development strategies for investigative journalism in Eastern Europe, Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa.

In Sri Lanka, outlets show political affiliation, reporters are not always safe, and there is a lack of support for investigative and multimedia journalism. During Friday’s panel, however, M.C. Rasmin said that his home country has many opportunities for investigative video storytelling.

Sarah Findlay, the program coordinator of MMA’s policy unit, shared the results of MMA research into how newsrooms in South Africa have been affected by digital technology and social media.