Every Friday we do a round-up of our favorite articles shared amongst WITNESS staff during the past week. This week we feature articles on new innovations and practices in citizen journalism, data mapping and the protection of human rights.

Israel, Gaza, War & Data – Medium

When a controversial event unfolds, how do your “friends,” “likes” and click history create a tailored stream of information on your social media feeds? What do you see? And perhaps more importantly, what don’t you see? How does this phenomenon play out en masse as billions of people receive news and information through the internet? Data scientist Gilad Lotan examines these questions within the context of the recent fighting between Israel and Hamas.  Mapping relationships and information flows on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, Lotan provides a visual representation of how users see streams of information that often reinforce their existing opinions, and infrequently see the voices and arguments of “the other side.” Lotan then poses interesting questions about how we can acknowledge this problem and work to change it.

Image courtesy of r2hox via Flickr


5 Innovative Projects Show the Power of Citizen Collaboration – PBS MediaShift

Human Rights Channel Curator Madeleine Bair is at it again with a new blog post on PBS MediaShift (the first in two part series) highlighting five examples of how citizen journalism can be used to uncover news and report ongoing stories. Musing on the role of a modern journalist as the curator of user generated content (UCG) versus the primary voice when reporting a story, Bair shows how citizen witnesses and citizen journalists are connecting with traditional journalisms outlets as well as new projects to amplify and share their content in various parts of the world.

Videos of police crimes spur Brazilians to confront a longtime problem – The Washington Post

Dom Phillips of the Washington Post looks at how an increasing volume of citizen and surveillance video of extrajudicial killings committed by law enforcement in Brazil is forcing the police and the government to react to this endemic problem. While it is unclear exactly how videos will lead to behavioral changes amongst these institutions, in multiple cases public outrage led to the prosecution of the accused officers. Phillips also notes that a widespread lack of trust in law enforcement means many Brazilians don’t call on the police when issues arise. Many cases have been reported of citizens to taking the law into their own hands, beating and occasionally killing accused wrongdoers. Many of these acts have also been captured on video and circulated. WITNESS continues to work on police brutality and video in Brazil. You can learn more about our work on this issue here.

Image courtesy of Gary Knight via Flickr
Image courtesy of Gary Knight via Flickr


Debating Participatory Journalism: Newsrooms, Campuses, Courts and Congress – Josh Stearns

Journalist Josh Stearns discusses his panel this week at the Association for Educators in Journalism and Mass Communications (AEJMC) Conference on participatory journalism titled “Media Policy and Participatory Journalism: Teaching, Engaging and Protecting Acts of Journalism.” The panel will feature WITNESS’ own Human Rights Channel Curator Madeleine Bair. As Stearn summarizes in this blog post, the panel will “focus on big legal and ethical questions that are raised as more and more people are taking up the tools of journalism and covering the news in their communities and around the globe.”

Inside The Data Science That’s Shining New Light On Syria’s Civil War – Fast Company

At the end of last week FastCompany released this article about one project that uses YouTube videos, social media feeds and data-mapping technology to map relations amongst government opposition groups in Syria. Tracking online interactions and relationships, the team  on The Syria Conflict Mapping Project (a collaboration between The Carter Center and Palantir Technologies) was able to piece together a detailed picture of “the opposition” with the hopes of directing aid to support key groups in need.  Now that the UN has decreed the re-opening of a number of Syria border crossings for the purposes of delivering humanitarian relief, this data can hopefully be put to use in the near future.

Sarah Kerr is a Program and Communications Associate at WITNESS.

Featured image courtesy of Keith Bacongo via Flickr.

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