How The New York Times is Visualizing the Smartphone Tracking Industry

The New York Times’ Privacy Project highlighted the alarmingly unregulated activity of location data companies collecting data from millions of smartphone users. As the coronavirus pandemic sheds further light on the uses and misuses of location tracking, here’s a deeper look at the project that visualized phones being tracked around the US, from the Pentagon and the White House to the streets of San Francisco.

Resources for Finding and Using Satellite Images

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Satellite images are powerful tools for discovery and analysis, plus provide vivid illustrations. There is real potential for investigative journalists to make greater use of these space images, although they have used them to report on conflicts, climate change, refugees, forest fires, illegal mining, oil spills, deforestation, slavery and many other topics. Imagery, as one expert put it, “is independent of the official line of thinking.”

Among other benefits, images are great for showing change over time, such as retreating shorelines, growing islands or lost vegetation. Examining images can complement other research, possibly providing corroborating evidence. This GIJN resource includes ten places to go for pro bono help and free images, including high resolution images.

Getting Started in Online, Open-Source Investigations

At First Draft, we frequently receive emails from a whole range of people asking how they can start doing the sort of online open-source investigation and verification that they’ve seen us doing. The skills and methodologies used are all something that can be learnt through a little persistence, but here are a few pieces of advice to get you started.

Using Twitter to Find People at the Scene of a Breaking Story

As news stories break, journalists find themselves wanting to speak to members of the public. They could have witnessed an incident or may have been affected by an event. Their views count and they enhance our reports with a human angle. There are many ways to locate ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, but we don’t always know how our approaches will be received, or indeed if our messages to them will be read at all. This is where Twitter comes into its own.