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GIJN Resource Center’s Top Guides and Tipsheets from 2023

GIJN’s Resource Center is a leading source of reporting guides, tipsheets, databases, and videos on investigative and data journalism, media fundraising, freelancing, security, and more. It’s used by journalists from around the world in English and a dozen other languages.

The Center’s digital library catalogs more than 2,000 items on subjects as diverse as climate change, war crimes, satellite imagery, organized crime, elections, and property records.

Here’s a selection of our top guides and tipsheets from 2023. If you’ve used GIJN’s resources for a story, please email us — we’d love to read it.

Guide to Investigating War Crimes

Investigating War Crimes Guide cover Ron Haviv Libya

Victims of a massacre by Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s forces in Tripoli. The men were shot, hand grenades were used against them, and then burned in a warehouse near the Khamis Brigade compound. Image: Courtesy of Ron Haviv, VII

GIJN’s comprehensive, 16-chapter Reporter’s Guide to Investigating War Crimes includes expert advice from more than two dozen specialists and journalists, covering everything from the legal aspects of war, attacks on civilians, conflict-related sexual violence, environmental crimes, banned weapons, genocide, forced disappearances, archiving evidence, open source research, military command structures, tracing war criminals, documenting with photo and video, physical and digital security best practices, and self-care for covering traumatic events.

The preface was written by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Nadia Murad. Here’s the list of the award-winning reporters and experts who shared their knowledge with GIJN: Sam Dubberley, BIRN’s Denis Džidić, AP’s Sarah El Deeb, the Global Journalist Security’s Matt Hansen, The New York Times’ Azmat Khan, The Sunday Times’ Christina Lamb, ICIJ’s Maggie Michael, the Dart Center’s Gavin Rees, the Crimean Center for Investigative Journalism Valentyna Samar, Dr. Claire Simmons of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, Columbia Law Human Rights Institute’s Tony Wilson, and Bellingcat’s Nick Waters and Wim Zwijnenburg.

The guide also featured a chapter and photography from Ron Haviv and the VII Foundation.

Online Research by Henk van Ess 

Online research expert Henk van Ess prepared this seven-chapter guide that offers reporters step-by-step instructions on how to search for people and subjects on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and TikTok, as well as a detailed tutorial on using facial recognition technology and best practices for putting these tools together in verifying claims online.

Digital Threats Guide 

Cyber digital threats reporting guide main image

Illustration: Marcelle Louw for GIJN

Top journalists and security analysts Craig Silverman, Jane Lytvynenko, Etienne “tek” Maynier, and Luis Assardo joined forces to produce GIJN’s Guide to Investigating Digital Threats. The guide helps journalists cover and work against the latest manipulation threats, including disinformation, malware, spyware, and trolling.

The guide is part of an ongoing Digital Threats project, which started in 2023 and offers a unique cyber investigations online training program tailored for investigative reporters.

Guide to Holding Your Government Accountable for Climate Pledges 

investigate climate change pledge introduction

Image: Creative Commons, via

Is your government living up to its promises to fight global warming? GIJN’s guide by Toby McIntosh is divided into six sections, from tracking pledges to finding and evaluating the data.

Because the global fight against climate change depends on the actions of individual nations, each government’s plans and policies for achieving its commitments need to be examined.

This GIJN guide will tell you:

  • Where to learn about your government’s plans to cut emissions.

  • Where to find out about your country’s greenhouse gas emissions.

  • How to examine what financial aid your country may need because of climate change.

  • Where to find what financial commitments are being made by developed countries to help countries impacted by climate change.

  • Gathering these basic facts will provide a vital starting point for many investigations.

A shorter version of the guide is also available.

Reporting on Disability Issues

Reporting Guide Disability Issues

Illustration: Alexandra Ramirez for GIJN

Disabled people are the largest intersectional minority group, and according to estimates includes roughly 1.3 billion people worldwide.

To say the disability community is poorly covered is an understatement. Watchdog journalism, in particular, has a critical role to play, as the issues requiring investigation and accountability are extensive. Among them: discrimination in employment and education, housing and deinstitutionalization, accessible transportation, healthcare, and abuses ranging from domestic violence to forced sterilization.

In this guide we’ve included some of the various definitions of disability, important resources, and key issues for journalists to investigate. You’ll hear the voices of journalists from across the globe — many of whom are disabled themselves. We’ve also included what disability is and how it can differ between the medical world and the communities themselves. And we’ll get into how not to get tripped up on language, interview accessibility, or finding the right sources. Finally, we’ve included a list of exceptional investigative stories on disability issues from around the world.

Organized Crime in Africa

Introduction - Africa Organized Crime Guide

Illustration: Dominique Mwankumi for GIJN

Organized crime is a global phenomenon. But Africa, with its deep-seated corruption and “resource curse,” is particularly hard hit. The continent is estimated to lose US$89 billion each year in illicit financial flows — nearly twice the amount of international aid money the continent receives.

GIJN found top African journalists to write these chapters on environmental crimes, terrorism and militia groups, crimes on the oceans, arms trafficking, natural resources theft, drug trafficking, financial crimes and kleptocracies.

Satellite Guide (Updated)

Nasa Satellite Image

Image: Unsplash, NASA

Satellites are a powerful investigative tool. Journalists are mining satellite imagery and remote sensing data to expose a widening array of problems: tree loss and forest fires, pandemic risk and climate change, slavery, and mass incarceration.

Since the last edition of this guide, governments and private industry have launched or planned new satellitesRon h. Synthetic aperture radar (SAR), which uses a satellite-mounted antenna to bounce microwave signals off the Earth’s surface and can pierce through cloud cover, is also being increasingly used by journalists.

Satellites help reporters detect methane gas pollution, document oil spills, locate mass graves, and ground-truth war propaganda.

Planespotting flight tracking resources map of southern England

Image: Screenshot, ADS-B Exchange

Planespotting and Flight Tracking (Updated) 

Investigative journalists have used information about airplanes to uncover corruption, follow wars, track government officials, and point out the levels of greenhouse gases emitted — which is why GIJN updated its popular Planespotting and Flight Tracking guide.

Asset Disclosure (Updated)

Required disclosures by public officials about their income and assets can be invaluable to investigative journalists. And information about wealth and its sources can play a vital role in uncovering corruption. This very popular guide, first written in 2018, is now updated with the latest resources on where to find asset disclosures and what to look for.

Researching Corporations and their Owners (Updated)

Investigative journalists play a crucial role in holding corporations to account, and have revealed labor abuses, environmental violations, corporate impunity and other instances of malpractice through deep-dives into companies and their owners.

However, government records on corporations often reveal only the tip of the iceberg, and unfortunately, the identity of a company’s real owners can be obscured. So-called shell companies can be created to disguise the real, “beneficial” owners.

The good news is that there are many ways to research companies: who really owns them, what they do, and more. GIJN’s Toby McIntosh and Emily O’Sullivan updated this evergreen GIJN guide.

Nikolia Apostolou, GIJN Resource Center DirectorNikolia Apostolou is GIJN’s Resource Center director. She has been writing and producing documentaries from Greece, Cyprus, and Turkey for more than 18 years, working with more than 100 media outlets, like the BBC, The Associated Press, AJ+, The New York Times, The New Humanitarian, PBS, USA Today, Deutsche Welle, Al-Jazeera, and many others. She covered extensively Greece’s economic crisis that started in 2010 and the European migrant crisis. Her documentaries have been screened in festivals across the world and have won multiple awards in various competitions. Nikolia earned her Master’s Degree in Digital Media at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and her Bachelor’s Degree at Panteion University, in Athens, Greece, majoring in journalism.

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