Investigating With Databases: Verifying Data Quality

Editor’s Note: The Verification Handbook for Investigative Reporting is a new guide to online search and research techniques to using user-generated content and open source information in investigations. Published by the European Journalism Centre, a GIJN member based in the Netherlands, the manual consists of ten chapters and is available for free download. We’re pleased to reprint below chapter 5, by investigative journalist Giannina Segnini.  

Never before have journalists had so much access to information. More than three exabytes of data — equivalent to 750 million DVDs — are created every day, and that number duplicates every 40 months.

Online Methods to Investigate the Who, Where, and When of a Person

Online research is often a challenge for traditional investigative reporters, journalism lecturers and students. Information from the web can be fake, biased, incomplete or all of the above. Offline, too, there is no happy hunting ground with unbiased people or completely honest governments. In the end, it all boils down to asking the right questions, digital or not. This chapter gives you some strategic advice and tools for digitizing three of the biggest questions in journalism: who, where and when?