Online Video Tutorial: Top Four Satellite Imagery Sources

Bellingcat contributor Benjamin Strick has released the latest in his series of online investigative journalism tutorials, this one featuring his four favorite satellite imagery sources. Strick, who is also the director of investigations for the London-based Centre for Information Resilience, goes into detail into why and how these satellite resources — which include Google Earth, Zoom Earth, Sentinel Hub, and NASA's File Information for Resource Management System (FIRMS) — can be invaluable tools in reporting. And best of all, they're free to use.

Source: YouTube

Posted on: July 30, 2021

Report: Freedom of Expression Under Global Assault

According to the 2021 Global Freedom of Expression report, press freedom has come under repeated attack during the COVID-19 pandemic. Authored by the human rights group Article 19, the report details hundreds of arrests, physical assaults, and other oppressive tactics on an independent press in the previous 14 months since the coronavirus outbreak in early 2020. Per the report, there were 620 violations of press freedom since March 2020, one-third of which were physical or verbal attacks, and another one-third were arrests or detainments by authorities. And the first three months of the pandemic were especially dangerous, with harassment and physical assaults on journalist quadrupling across the world.

Source: Article 19

Posted on: July 29, 2021

Tracking the Global Impact of the Pegasus Spyware Exposé

News about the Pegasus spyware revelations is still reverberating around the globe, shaking the political foundations of countries like France, Hungary, and India. In this roundup, The Guardian offers an update on the fallout from the surveillance tool's deployment. In France, the Pegasus story has notably chilled relations with Morocco, which is suspected of having targeted French President Emmanuel Macron's phone as well as those of others in his government. In Hungary, President Viktor Orban's government was accused of — and did not directly deny — using the spyware from Israeli-based NSO group to secretly track investigative journalists in that country. And in India, figures from the oppositional Congress Party lobbed charges of "treason" at ruling Prime Minister Narendra Modi for allegedly using Pegasus to surveil them.

Source: The Guardian

Posted on: July 26, 2021

Russia: Far East Paper Shut After Coal Report

The trouble began when staffers at Uglegorskiye Novosti, a weekly on Sakhalin Island in Russia's Far East, prepared a front-page story on the collapse of a coal dump at a local firm's open-pit mine. The accident dumped tons of rock and debris into the Zhyoltaya River, blocking it and causing an ecological disaster, according to journalists there. But after complaints from the coal company, the newsroom was raided by 10 unidentified men, the electricity cut off, and the editor fired. The journalists are continuing to report on what is happening -- through the paper's Telegram channel.

Source: RFE/RL

Posted on: July 23, 2021

New Spyware Used to Target Journalists

Canadian information research group Citizen Lab has identified another player in the global spyware market, Israeli-based surveillance software company Candiru. This firm sells its product exclusively to governments, marketing its "untraceable" technology as reportedly capable of secretly tracking Apple and Android phones, Mac and PC computers, as well as cloud storage accounts. After extracting a copy of the Candiru platform from an infected computer in Western Europe, Citizen Lab worked with Microsoft to identify at least 100 other surveillance targets — journalists, human rights activists, and political dissidents — in nations spanning the globe, from Palestine to Singapore, Iran to the UK, Yemen to Spain. For more details on which governments have purchased Candiru and learn more about how it work, click the link.

Source: Citizen Lab

Posted on: July 21, 2021

US Justice Department Blocks Seizure of Journalists’ Records

US Attorney General Merrick Garland announced in a memo on Monday that the Justice Department would no longer allow federal prosecutors to secretly seize the records of journalists during any investigation into government leaks. This move marked a notable win for press freedom and reversed a previous US DOJ policy that had allowed authorities to surveil reporters and acquire their communications data — without notification — if prosecutors felt the circumstances surrounding a leak of classified information outweighed the First Amendment rights of the press. The decision also came just weeks after bombshell revelations that the Trump administration had secretly seized phone and email records of several US reporters in an attempt to discover which government officials were disclosing details about the FBI's Russia investigation into election meddling and other national security issues. Media rights groups hailed the announcement, with Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press executive director Bruce Bowen calling it a "historic new policy" that "will ensure that journalists can do their job of informing the public without fear of federal government intrusion."

Source: Courthouse News

Posted on: July 20, 2021

Moscow Bans Another Investigative Outlet

The Russian Justice Ministry banned investigative outlet Proekt from the country this week, labeling the US-registered news site an "undesirable organization." In addition, the Russian Attorney General listed editor-in-chief Roman Badanin and four other Proekt reporters as "foreign agents." According to Russian law, any group branded as "undesirable" can no longer operate inside the country and any citizen who assists the sanctioned organization can face criminal charges. The expulsion order comes just weeks after Moscow police raided the homes of several Proekt journalists, who had just published, that same day, an exposé on the family wealth of Russia's Interior Minster.

Source: Mediazona

Posted on: July 16, 2021

Dutch Reporter Dies After Shooting

Dutch crime journalist Peter R. de Vries died after being shot in Amsterdam on July 6. He was 64 years old. Renowned for his dedication to unsolved crimes and support to the families of crime victims, he investigated more than 500 murder files and played a pivotal role in solving several cold cases. On July 6, he was shot on the street, walking past crowds of people enjoying a post-work drink. Two suspects are in custody in what is being called a well-planned assault.

Source: Al Jazeera

Posted on: July 15, 2021

Will Readers in the Global South Pay for Journalism?

A Reuters Institute study analyzed the audience revenue programs of digital media outlets with the help of 23 editors, media managers, and experts from 19 outlets in 16 countries, mainly from Central and Eastern Europe and the Global South. The study looked into how independent news can survive in environments that are often low-choice and repressive, attempting to map out the common challenges and identify practical, adaptable solutions. The responses show that, while there is plenty of interference with independent media by state and political actors, there is little interference aimed directly at audience revenue programs of independent newsrooms.

Source: Reuters Institute

Posted on: July 14, 2021

El Faro Editor Expelled from El Salvador

Award-winning Latin American investigative journalist Daniel Lizárraga was expelled from El Salvador on Thursday after President Nayib Bukele's regime refused to grant him a valid work permit. Lizárraga, a journalism instructor renowned for exposing corruption in Mexico, is also an editor for El Faro, a Salvadoran news site and GIJN member. The El Salvadoran government claimed its decision to revoke Lizárraga's residency status was "due to his inability to prove he is an editor or journalist." However, Lizárraga's forced immigration comes amidst a separate harassment effort against El Faro by the Bukele regime, which is conducting ongoing audits of the newsroom. In an editorial on its website, El Faro accused the government of expelling Lizárraga to avoid further scrutiny of its misconduct: "That's what truly bother the Bukele regime, which is is just as plagued with corruption scandals as it is committed to protecting it own corrupt[ion]."

Source: El Faro

Posted on: July 9, 2021