BIRN Summer School Day 4: How to Scale Up Investigation

On the fourth third day of BIRN’s Summer School in Dubrovnik, journalists heard how to pitch stories, structure investigative projects and use open data.

The fourth day of BIRN’s Summer School Master Class of Investigative Journalism in the historic city of Dubrovnik on Thursday started with a session on pitching story ideas, run by Lawrence Marzouk, editor with Balkan Investigative Reporting Network.

Marzouk explained how stories can be pitched to editors without overpromising while bearing in mind the possible angle, sources and the outcomes.

“You need a clear idea; do not spread a lot of different things,“ he said.

Marzouk said journalists should try not promise too much from a story and must be realistic, but their stories have to be fresh and new, workable and possible, to explain why something is important.

“At the beginning, you should at least have a theory in your head, something you would try to prove,“ he said.

Miranda Patrucic, an investigative reporter and regional editor with the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, continued her lecture on how to “follow the money“.

She explained how to gather publicly available information about companies and how to research their financial statements and assets.

“A financial statement summarizes the revenues, costs and expenses incurred during a specific period of time,“ Patrucic explained.

In the afternoon session, Blake Morrison, lead trainer and investigative projects editor at Reuters, advised journalists on how to pitch stories and structure investigative projects.

“You should always think of how to better communicate the story, to use the audio-video material, the data,” he said.

During the last Thursday’s session, BIRN’s Marzouk shed light on a case study about the arms trade from the Balkans and Central Europe to the Middle East.

Journalists heard how to use open data to trace and track the arms trade.

Marzouk explained that, while researching a “controversial industry” like the arms trade, journalists “have to harvest all the possible open source databases” because the industry is highly regulated, meaning that there is a lot of documentation.

During the fourth day, participants at the Summer School also continued to work on their investigation proposals that they will present on Friday.

The eighth BIRN Summer School has brought together young journalists from Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia,  the Czech Republic, Greece, Kosovo, Luxemburg, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Ukraine and the United States.

The Summer School is organized in cooperation with the Media Program South East Europe of the Konrad Adenauer- Stiftung, Open Society Foundations and the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), the operational unit of Austrian Development Cooperation with the support of USAID Macedonia.

BIRN Summer School: The Art of Interviews and Tracing Money

On the third day of BIRN’s Summer School, journalists heard how to conduct interviews and investigate offshore industries.

On day three of the BIRN summer school in Dubrovnik, Blake Morrison, the lead trainer and investigative projects editor at Reuters, held a session on the “art of interviewing” and on how to convince difficult sources to talk, describing interviews as a crucial component of the journalistic job.

The task was “how to get the information from the people. And to do it ethically,” he said.

“My philosophy on interviewing is pretty simple… Think of it as a blind date,” he noted,  explaining that the interviewee needs to “be understood.

“It’s very important to be curious. If you don’t understand something, don’t presume, ask,” he continued.

blake-day-3

Morrison explained that there are three types of interview: information interviews, which involve collecting information on something; accountability interviews, asking a person to explain his or her acts; and emotional interviews, in which person sheds light on his or her emotional perspective.

Morrison emphasised the need for preparation and gave insight into why some people agree to give an interview: vanity, the need to be understood, self-interest, desperation, guilt and curiosity.

“I really believe as a journalist is that our commitment to honesty is crucial,” Morrison said.

miranda-day-3

The workshop on data journalism and using advanced internet research continued on Wednesday.

Henk van Ess, who works with a number of European media outlets, as well as Bellingcat, continued his training on data journalism, answering questions from the participants through stories he has covered over the years.

He showed the participants how to use open sources and social media for their investigative stories, showing the example of the work he did in tracing the ISIS executer, Jihadi John.

group-day-3

Miranda Patrucic, an investigative reporter and regional editor with the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, also held an interactive lecture on how to “follow the money” and how to investigate offshore industry.

She conducted an exercise on tracking money and on shell and shelf companies through various databases, both open-source and paid-for.

“Many of offshore companies have a legitimate purpose in the business word, however, they could be manipulated by criminals to hide their crimes, money laundering,“ Patrucic observed.

The eighth BIRN Summer School has brought together young journalists from Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia,  the Czech Republic, Greece, Kosovo, Luxemburg, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Ukraine and the United States.

 

The Summer School is organized in cooperation with the Media Program South East Europe of the Konrad Adenauer- Stiftung, Open Society Foundations and the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), the operational unit of Austrian Development Cooperation with the support of USAID Macedonia.

BIRN Summer School Day 2: Social Media, Fact-Checking for Investigative Journalists

BIRN’s Summer School continued on Tuesday with sessions exploring data journalism and fact-checking methods.

Head trainer and investigative projects editor at Reuters, Blake Morrison, showed BIRN Summer School Master Class of Investigative Journalism how to use a creative approach to fact-checking in Dubrovnik.

An interactive exercise explored the difference between supposition and proof and how to separate fact from suspicion, while determining standards for fact-checking.

Monday’s workshop on data journalism continued into its second day. Christiaan Triebert, a conflict researcher with Bellingcat, led the group. Bellingcat has achieved notoriety for its utilisation of open source information to investigate armed conflicts and corruption, and has won multiple awards.

During the workshop, participants learned about analytical tools required for data journalism, while Triebert explained the process of digital open source investigation, and how it can improve investigative reporting skills.

bss-2017-day2

The middle of the session examined the capacity of geolocation tools to pinpoint exact places and how to use satellite imagery as a fact-checking tool. Triebert explained how advanced internet applications such as Google Maps can bolster research underpinning complex investigative stories.

“But you will still need traditional reporting and journalists on the ground,“ Triebert said.

Henk van Ess, who works with various European media outlets, as well as Bellingcat, also provided data journalism training, answering questions from BIRN Summer School participants about using social media as an investigative tool.

Journalists learned Facebook data mining methods, how to find elusive people through checking secret IDs, and how to discover closed groups or find people working for security agencies. In short, “how to search over two trillion Facebook postings in a clever way,“ he said.

The eighth BIRN Summer School has brought together young journalists from Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia,  the Czech Republic, Greece, Kosovo, Luxemburg, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Ukraine and the United States.

The Summer School is organized in cooperation with the Media Program South East Europe of the Konrad Adenauer- Stiftung, Open Society Foundations and the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), the operational unit of Austrian Development Cooperation with the support of USAID Macedonia.

Eighth BIRN Summer School Opens in Croatia

BIRN’s latest Summer School opened on Monday in Dubrovnik with interactive sessions on advanced digital research and use of open data sources.

Some 35 reporters from the Balkans and across the world gathered on Monday in the historic resort city of Dubrovnik in Croatia for the eighth BIRN Summer School Master Class on Investigative Journalism.

After greeting this year’s participants, Blake Morrison, the school’s lead trainer and investigative projects editor at Reuters, held an interactive exercise and discussion about the challenges of investigative reporting. Morrison shared sources and interview techniques and tips on researching complex investigations.

The first day continued with an introductory workshop on data journalism led by Christiaan Triebert, a conflict researcher with Bellingcat, a multi-award winning collective that uses online open source information to investigate armed conflicts and corruption.

During the workshop, participants learnt about the analytical tools needed for data journalism while Triebert explained the process of a digital open source investigation, research and verification, and how to use digital tools to uncover corruption and crime. “There is so much information available online,“ he said.

Henk van Ess, who works with various European media and Bellingcat, meanwhile showed how to go “fast and furious with stuff that seems impossible to validate”.

Van Ess shared plenty of practical tips to validate information from social media and other open sources.

Blake Morrison, the school’s lead trainer and investigative projects editor at Reuters
Blake Morrison, the school’s lead trainer and investigative projects editor at Reuters

In the afternoon, the participants were divided up into smaller groups for in-depth sessions with Reuter’s editor Morrison.

The eighth BIRN Summer School has brought together young journalists from Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia,  the Czech Republic, Greece, Kosovo, Luxemburg, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Ukraine and the United States.

The Summer School is organized in cooperation with the Media Program South East Europe of the Konrad Adenauer- Stiftung, Open Society Foundations and the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), the operational unit of Austrian Development Cooperation with support of USAID Macedonia.

Christiaan Triebert

Christiaan Triebert is a conflict researcher with Bellingcat, a multi-award winning collective that uses online open source information to investigate armed conflicts and corruption.

Among a wide variety of topics, Triebert has especially focused on investigating airstrikes in the Middle East, also in his capacity as geolocation expert for monitoring organisation Airwars.

His digital reconstruction of the Turkish coup d’état attempt won the Innovation Award of the European Press Prize.

Triebert aims to spread Bellingcat’s techniques and tools by giving worldwide digital forensics workshops, including in Iraq, Ukraine, and Colombia.

He holds a Master’s degree in Conflict, Security & Development from King’s College London, and two undergraduate degrees (International Relations, Political Philosophy) from the University of Groningen. Triebert conducted fieldwork in Syria and Iraq, among other countries.

What can journalists and regular citizens do to investigate governments and armed groups who don’t or hardly provide any information about incidents, bombings, tortures or corruption?

A growing number of citizens are pursuing facts themselves.

Bellingcat, an international investigative collective, uses online open source information in combination with digital tools to uncover the facts themselves.

How do they work, and which tools and methods do they use?

In his first presentation, Christiaan Triebert will give a unique insight into Bellingcat, thereby discussing a wide variety of cases showing how the group investigates incidents like the downing of Flight MH17, the failed coup attempt in Turkey, and fact-checking military claims with regards to airstrikes in the Middle East.

Henk van Ess

Henk van Ess is obsessed by finding news in data. 

European media houses, like Axel Springer and Persgroep love his literal and lateral thinking and hire Henk on a regular basis to spill his secrets.

He rarely appears at public conferences, so this is your chance to find out the best tricks in internet research.

Henk is a member of the investigation team at Bellingcat.

Anuška Delić

Anuška Delić, is an investigative and data journalist with Slovenia’s main daily newspaper Delo.

She has investigated a variety of issues from asbestos on state-owned train infrastructure and abuses of election campaign law, to Slovenia’s own anabolic steroid king Mihael Karner.

At the end of 2011 she uncovered that leaders of the Slovenian branch of worldwide neo-Nazi organization Blood&Honor were actively involved in the ranks of leading right-wing party. As a direct consequence of her articles, Delić was charged with publishing classified information, charges that were dramatically dropped by state prosecutors minutes before judgement. Subsequently, the Slovenian government changed the article of Criminal Code relating to publication of state secrets.

In 2015 she started The MEPs Project. She gathered journalists representing all 28 EU Member States who filed requests for access to documents of the European Parliament that show how Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) spend the professional allowances they receive on top of their paychecks. Journalists were refused access, and thus filed complaints against the European Parliament with the European Court of Justice. Cases are pending. The group launched its first investigation in May 2017, which revealed how some MEPs abused their allowance, and includes a search facility for readers to check the filings of their local MEP.

In 2015 and 2016 Delić – also a partner of OCCRP – worked on ICIJ’s Panama Papers investigation which brought her and more than ten colleagues at Delo the highest journalistic award in Slovenia: the Slovene Association of Journalists’ Watchdog Award for Extraordinary Achievements.

Twitter: @007_delic

Mark Lee Hunter

Mark Lee Hunter’s career has been divided between investigative journalism, scholarly research, training and consulting. He is currently an Adjunct Professor and Senior Research Fellow at INSEAD, based in the INSEAD Social Innovation Centre, and a Maître de conférences associé of the Institut français de Presse of the Université de Paris 2/Panthéon-Assas

He is the only person to have won awards from Investigative Reporters and Editors Inc., the world’s leading organization in the field, for both his investigative reports and his research on journalism.

His other journalism awards include the H.L. Mencken Free Press Award (given for work on government abuses), the Sigma Delta Chi Award for research on journalism, and the National Headliners and Clarion Awards for a series of articles showing how an obscure US law created a population of handicapped children, who were subsequently cut from welfare rolls. He has also won the EFMD Award for case writing.

All in all, he has authored or co-authored some 200 investigative reports for publications including The New York Times Magazine, Reader’s Digest, Le Figaro, and others.

His articles on media and communication have appeared in Corporate Reputation Review, Harvard Business Review, Columbia Journalism Review, Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics, the Journal of Business Ethics, and elsewhere.

His doctoral thesis in communications, published by the Presses Universitaires de France as Le Journalisme d’investigation en France et aux Etats-Unis, was the first cross-cultural study of French and American investigative reporting methods; his manual for investigative reporters, Story-Based Inquiry, was published by UNESCO in 2009.

Among his other works are a pioneering study of work-life issues, The Passions of Men: Work and Love in the Age of Stress (Putnam, 1988); the first unauthorized biography of France’s most popular politician of the Left, Jack Lang (Les Jours les plus Lang, Odile Jacob, 1990); the case-cracking true story of a murder that implicated France’s power elite, Le Destin de Suzanne: La Véritable affaire Canson (Fayard, 1995); an analysis of the French extreme right and its militant base, Un Américain au Front: Enquête au sein du Front national (Stock, 1998); and a documentary film on France’s lobbies and their political connections (Chronique d’une campagne arrosée, Arte, 1999).

He was a founding member of the Global Investigative Journalism Network in 2003, and speaks regularly at international journalism conferences, to multinational corporations, and to news organizations about finding and using information.

As an investigative media trainer, he works with Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ), France Télévisions, the London Centre for Investigative Journalism, and many other organizations.

When not working, he performs and records on the electric guitar.

http://markleehunter.free.fr/

Ana Petruseva

Ana Petruseva is BIRN’s Macedonia Country Director and Balkan Insight Managing Editor.

Ana has been working as a journalist since 1997. She was a staff writer for the Skopje based Forum magazine until 2000. During the 1999 Kosovo conflict she also worked with television stations Arte, Spiegel TV and RAI Uno.

In 2000 she won a scholarship for a professional year development at Indiana University’s School of Journalism and spent a year in the United States. While overseas she worked as a correspondent for Deutsche Welle’s Macedonian service.

From 2001 until May 2003 she covered the Macedonian conflict and its aftermath for Reuters. In 2002 she was Associate producer of IWPR`s documentary “Ohrid and beyond”. She was IWPR Country Director for Macedonia from 2003 until 2005.

In 2005 she established the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network BIRN, in Macedonia, a local non-governmental organisation which is part of the wider regional network. In 2006 she produced BIRN`s documentary on Kosovo “Does Anyone Have a Plan?”. She has chaired and attended numerous public debates and is often invited to comment current affairs in Macedonia by local and international media as the Economist, Radio Free Europe, BBC, CNN.

http://birn.eu.com/en/1/205/622/

Paul Radu

Paul Radu (@IDashboard) is the executive director of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting  Project www.reportingproject.net and a co-creator of the Investigative Dashboard concept www.investigativedashboard.org.

He has held a number of fellowships, including the Alfred Friendly Press Fellowship in 2001, the Milena Jesenska Press Fellowship in 2002, the Rosalyn Carter Fellowship for Mental Health Journalism in 2007,  the 2008 Knight International Journalism fellowship with the International Center for Journalists as well as a 2009-2010 Stanford Knight Journalism Fellowship.  He is the recipient of numerous awards including the Knight International Journalism Award and the Investigative Reporters and Editors Award in 2004, the Global Shining Light Award, the Tom Renner Investigative Reporters and Editors Award in 2007 and the Daniel Pearl Award for Outstanding International Investigative Reporting in 2011.