The Friday 5: What Investigative Journalists Are Reading This Week

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Each day, GIJN editors scan the online world for the latest news on investigative and data journalism, reports, and analysis on sustainability and innovation in journalism, as well as tips and tools which support the craft. We put these out across our social media channels in eight languages. Our new series rounds up five of our favorites from around the internet. Here’s what we’re reading this week.

Man Admits to Murdering Investigative Journalist, a Crime That Rocked Slovakia (NPR)

Miroslav Marcek pled guilty at the start of a high-profile trial in Slovakia for four people accused of killing reporter Jan Kuciak and his fiancée, Martina Kusnirova, in their home. At the time of his death, the 27-year old had been reporting on alleged ties between high-ranking people in Slovakia’s government and the Italian mafia, and had worked on projects related to corruption, drawing on sources such as the Panama Papers and Paradise Papers. Prosecutors have accused a businessman named Marian Kocner of being the crime’s mastermind, alleging that the contract killings cost nearly $80,000. Kocner has pled not guilty.

Disinformation for Hire: How a New Breed of PR Firms Is Selling Lies Online (BuzzFeed)

The team over at BuzzFeed – along with Taiwan’s Reporter, a GIJN member – delved deeper into the global disinformation industry of “black PR” and marketing firms “ready to deploy fake accounts, false narratives, and pseudo news websites for the right price.” They looked at account takedowns by platforms that deactivated as well as investigations by security and research firms (really worth checking out their spreadsheet) and found that since 2011, at least 27 online information operations have been partially or wholly attributed to PR or marketing firms. Of those, 19 occurred in 2019. It’s a sobering look at what’s in store for 202o and beyond.

‘When Money Is Offered, We Listen’: Foundation Funding and Nonprofit Journalism (CJR)

Jacob Nelson and Patrick Ferrucci interviewed 40 journalists at digital-native nonprofit news organizations and employees from foundations that fund nonprofit journalism within the US to understand how each side perceives the influence of foundation finances on journalistic practice for a a study recently published in the academic journal Media and Communication. In this article for for the Columbia Journalism Review, they outlined their findings, including that the impact of foundations on journalism “parallels that of advertisers throughout the 20th century, with one important distinction: funding from foundations is often premised on editorial influence, complicating efforts by journalists to maintain the firewall between news revenue and production.”

How El País Tells Stories with Data (Mapbox)

The Madrid-based El País is a Spanish-language daily which, over the past year, has built a data journalism team from the ground up, and have made storytelling through maps a central component of this work. Mapbox talked to Daniele Grasso, a founding member of this team, about the work that he and writer and engineer Kiko Llaneras are doing to tell stories using the Mapbox tools. The piece showcases some of the data stories they visualized including a street-by-street vote map from the 2019 Spanish elections and a map of different neighborhoods using tax data which highlighted income disparities.

New Journal: HKS Misinformation Review (Harvard Kennedy School)

The Harvard Kennedy School launched the Misinformation Review this week. The peer-reviewed, scholarly publication promises “fast-reviewed” articles by misinformation scientists and scholars, released under open access, and geared towards emphasizing the real-world implications of misinformation. It hopes to address the gap of reliable, unbiased research on the prevalence, diffusion, and impact of misinformation worldwide. The publication is targeted towards researchers, journalists, fact-checkers, educators, policy makers, and other practitioners working in the information, media, and platform landscape.

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