Bringing Pop-Up Newsroom to Documenting Hate

Building data and supporting journalism around hate crimes and bias incidents in the US is the timely goal of Documenting Hate — a collaboration between ProPublica, First Draft, Meedan, and a host of news organizations and journalism schools.

Our role in the project is to lead the social newsgathering pipeline: working with student journalists to find and verify reports of hate crimes from witnesses, victims or perpetrators that are posted to social networks, and making these reports useful and usable for journalists.

How Might We: find and verify reports of hate incidents for ProPublica?

Last weekend, we convened the student journalist leads for the project at a Pop-Up Newsroom at Texas State University to co-design a new workflow for the second phase of project — no small task, given the scale of the problem and the ambitious collaboration, which sees students from Texas State University, University of Miami, CUNY, UC Berkeley and Wake Forest working together on discovery, verification and annotation of reports.

Pop-Up Newsroom is a framework for news innovation conceived by Meedan and Dig Deeper. For Documenting Hate, we were able to apply Pop-Up Newsroom methodology to redesign a project and iterate on a workflow that we had piloted over the previous three months. As the reporting work is student-led, involving the students in this redesign process was a top priority — they were able to tell us, from their own experiences, what aspects of the workflow could work, and what needed adjusting.

To deconstruct and reframe the project, we adopted human-centered design methods advocated by the Luma Institute, including:

  • stakeholder mapping, to understand the many priorities and relationships between the many people and organizations working on the project;
  • statement starters, to creatively frame addressable challenges and opportunities relevant to the various stakeholders;
  • rough and ready prototyping, to quickly iterate on the workflow and incorporate input from student, faculty and reporting stakeholders.

Coming out of the Pop-Up Newsroom, we had arrived at a much simplified workflow, and strategic plans for how to address key project implementation challenges — and a community of engaged and motivated student journalists ready to put those plans into action. We also learned valuable lessons about digital newsgathering that we will iterate in upcoming Pop-Up Newsroom projects.

We’re grateful to the students and faculty for their enthusiastic and diligent participation in Pop-Up Newsroom, and in particular to Texas State for hosting the gathering!

For more information on Documenting Hate, or to express interest in joining as a partner, see:

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