Newsy, Bellingcat partnership finds new ways to blend open-source reporting and visual storytelling
Multiplatform news network Newsy and the investigative journalism outlet Bellingcat have partnered on a new video series driven by open-source reporting. The newsroom collaboration pairs Newsy’s creative visual storytelling and reporting with Bellingcat’s innovative approach to using publicly available data and citizen journalist analysis.
For the Newsy+Bellingcat series, reporters work together to utilize satellite imagery, social media and online tools to shed light on international conflict and extremism — from showing how tear gas canisters have killed protesters in Iraq to finding white supremacists in the ranks of the U.S. military.
“With this series, Newsy and Bellingcat are right at the forefront in creating a blueprint for a new kind of investigative visual journalism,” said Zach Toombs, executive producer for Newsy’s documentaries unit. “There is so much public skepticism today around journalism and secret sources, and so there’s huge value in being able to pull together publicly available evidence and data and actually show our viewers not only what we know but how we know it. And as we’ve seen in this partnership, we can cover both in a really visually compelling way.”
Newsy producer Jake Godin works with Bellingcat’s investigators to identify and co-report stories for the video series, while Newsy’s Jennifer Smart serves as the video editor and animator. Story ideas for the series have come from both Newsy and Bellingcat.
“Bellingcat’s work often involves complex investigations with a strong visual element,” said Eliot Higgins, founder of Bellingcat. “Our collaboration with Newsy has allowed us to bring investigations to life, and engage with new audiences who are unfamiliar with the power of online open source investigation.”
Recent reports from the Newsy+Bellingcat series revealed:
- several American active-duty servicemen active in the Iron March forum, an online gathering place for violent neo-Nazis and white supremacists. Reporters culled through thousands of messages and usernames from the leaked neo-Nazi forum and used a variety of digital detective tools and records searches to connect the usernames to active duty military personnel.
- the identities of the Russian-backed soldiers linked to the downing of the MH17 airliner in Eastern Ukraine in 2014. Both the video from this series and the full report from Bellingcat have been referenced by the Joint Investigation Team at The Hague as it seeks the criminal prosecution of the separatists.
- the presence of a Turkish-backed rebel group at the site where a Kurdish political leader was killed in Syria. This report connected the dots between extrajudicial killings near the Turkey-Syria border. Newsy and Bellingcat spent 50+ hours over the course of a few weeks examining satellite imagery and dozens of videos posted to social media among rebel networks.
- photos and video evidence that showed an unexpected source of protester casualties in Iraq: tear gas canisters fired directly into crowds. Reporters sorted through dozens of videos and photos uploaded online to uncover this information.
The Newsy+Bellingcat series airs on Newsy’s cable channel and is available on-demand on Newsy’s over-the-top streaming platforms and online at newsy.com and bellingcat.com. For all the ways to watch Newsy, visit newsy.com/go.
Newsy is a wholly owned subsidiary of The E.W. Scripps Company (NASDAQ: SSP).
Newsy is the leading cross-platform television news network that provides “news with the why,” built to inform and engage by delivering the top stories across every platform. Its content is available on cable; on over-the-top services including Hulu, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Sling TV, Pluto TV, and Google Chromecast; and on connected television including Xumo. Newsy is also available via its mobile apps and at newsy.com.
Bellingcat is an independent international collective of researchers, investigators and citizen journalists using open source and social media investigation to probe a variety of subjects — from Mexican drug lords and crimes against humanity, to tracking the use of chemical weapons and conflicts worldwide. With staff and contributors in more than 20 countries around the world, we operate in a unique field where advanced technology, forensic research, journalism, investigations, transparency and accountability come together.