‘Data Ninjas’ Help Vocativ Journalists Mine the Deep Web

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By Richard Horgan Comment

Getting to the bottom of the “unindexed, un-Google-able Web” (a.k.a. deep Web) is a time-consuming, multilingual operation. To support the efforts of journalists in that direction at Vocativ, the company relies on a half-dozen specialists it likes to call “data ninjas.”

That tidbit and several others can be found in Fast Company writer Neal Ungerleider’s fascinating look at the two-year-old digital news agency. The company is headed by Scott Cohen, formerly digital executive editor of the New York Daily News:

Cohen says that the six “ninja” analysts currently at the company work with journalists on a 1.5:1 or 2:1 ratio, and he emphasizes the analysts’ multilingual background. At the moment, Vocativ’s analysts speak Arabic, English, French, Hebrew, Mandarin, Persian, Russian and “even a bit of Hausa.”

One other idea given great play at the startup is that conventional news organizations disproportionately use English-language source material when covering stories–meaning they miss out on potential leads. In Russia, for instance, analyst Tiffany Shi says that they search regional networking site VKontakt, while Chinese coverage relies more on microblogs like Sina Weibo.

Vocativ’s journalism data mining efforts were inspired by Open Mind, a tool developed for law enforcement/government agencies and marketed by one of Vocativ financial backer Mati Kochavi‘s other companies. ¬†However, they run deeper than the ones indexed for that product. Read the full Fast Company article here.

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