Sunday, September 21, 2014

Building an Alliance Between Journalists and Hackers

The ability to access and manipulate data is increasingly becoming one of the most important new frontiers for investigative journalism.
While a great deal of information is currently available online, not everyone is adept at locating it or putting it into a format that will yield a useful result. Journalism schools are now turning their attention to training new journalists in the techniques that will make this possible.
There is a group of people who are exceptionally good at finding data online right now -- hackers.
Now comes word of a conference that will bring journalists and hackers together.
The Centre for Investigative Journalism is organizing the Logan Symposium for Journalists and Hackers, to be held in London Dec. 5-7.  The event is designed to allow both groups to discuss common concerns and to learn from each other.
"Journalists will offer hackers a social and political context and expertise in evidence based story telling," according to the CIJ's website. "Hackers will offer an insight into digital tools to protect journalists and their sources and ways of accessing and exposing evidentially based material about truth in our time."

While some people identify hacking with illegal online entry and criminal activity, the symposium is clearly suggesting that ethical hackers will be the ones in attendance. It identifies a hacker as "someone who identifies and explores the strengths and weaknesses of computer systems and networks. Usually supports free and open source software, and whose beliefs include sharing, openness, decentralisation and world improvement."

Some major names will be participating, including Seymour Hersh, John Pilger, Julian Assange (via Skype) and others.

It's a novel concept, but recent events have clearly shown that journalists and hackers can assist each other. Just how exactly that process will work in the future is one of the things the conference will help clarify.

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