Citizen journalism is more prevalent than ever with the upsurge in social media platforms. Now that so much information is available at our fingertips, it seems that reporters — both formally trained and novice — are even hungrier for accurate news.
A crowdfunding campaign by a man named Eliot Higgins has the goal of bringing together citizen journalists who are curious about hard news issues through an open-source website. His vision is for contributors all over the world to continue coverage of “Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Kurdistan, Nigeria, Jihadists, Shia armed groups, the UK phone hacking scandal, police corruption, and more,” he wrote on Kickstarter.
Bellingcat, as he calls it, is based on the idea that citizen journalists have the power to do much of the investigation that traditional media outlets do. YouTube and Reddit are just two hugely important tools that anyone who values verification and getting to the bottom of a news story can use, and it’s totally open-sourced. Social media does the same thing, Higgins wrote on his Kickstarter page.
Not only will Bellingcat — if it reaches its funding goal — be a place for global digital, citizen journalists to come flesh out facts and obtain information, but Higgins also wants it to serve as a resource center, with how-tos and articles on how to be an effective citizen journalist.
The idea for Bellingcat was inspired by Higgins’ blog, Brown Moses, when he started becoming an expert on the conflict in Syria back in March 2012. Since then, “Brown Moses” has made a name for himself, even with major news organizations, as he has broke stories on Syria before anyone else simply using open-sourced information and social media. His biggest reporting accomplishment? Learning about Syria’s chemical weapons. He has also been an active voice on the MH17 tragedy.
Higgins has an impressive team of contributors slated to write for Bellingcat, if it comes to fruition. Twenty days are left, but given this week’s launch of Reddit Live Blogs and the slew of other citizen journalism outfits we’ve seen popping up, I have a feeling Bellingcat will go live.