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Read this: How digital sleuths changed journalism

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How digital sleuths changed journalism…

BBC sounds music Radio podcasts from BBC Radio 4 hello some big turn on the media show today in the west it's reported as the Ukraine crisis 100000 Russian troops assembled near the border president mccrory's on a whirlwind diplomatic mission this week 2 of the conflict, but I want to look at how the situation has been reported in Russia and in Ukraine is there the same sense of urgency and domestic Media how are both sides using the media to advance their own objectives Francis car is a Moscow with BBC monitoring and he's going to help us do that but Francis on a lighter note you will have seen those images of Putin and macron.

Sat either end of a gigantic negotiating table this week.

Is this table the Primrose out for photo opportunities when they want to see the idea through the media that the west should sit at a distance from Russia all the tables like that.

Plenty of political commentators have been saying that this is about political projection about Putin making macron.

Feel uncomfortable while they were talking but actually in the last couple of weeks also helps with the president of Iran and the prime minister of Hungary relations with Russia than France does a table at the very same table and in fact lots of other people are saying this is more about Putin's wearing over coronavirus.

Just to give you another example back in December he helped marathon annual press conference and any journalists you wanted to attend the event had to pass 3 PCR tests and once they got to the venue.

They had to go to remind of disinfectant spray them with sanitizer.

The Ukrainian border is also the subject of March analysis by open source investigators the the online sleeves off an amateur who was strolling through social media posts and satellite imagery to track the hardware that's on the move in the region such investigative techniques have now been co-opted by mainstream news outlets.

I'm going to hear about the huge impact some of them have achieved in the last 2 months.

We've got some of the best in the business with us and Alison killing who won a Pulitzer Prize for her work last year Alison use satellite imagery to identify how the Chinese government was building a massive infrastructure to detain Muslims and Alison I'm open source investigators are often amateur.

They're certainly not all train journalist and your day job is in fact as an architect and hear you are winning the Pulitzer yeah.

I mean I'm 10 does not detect and I wouldn't practice phone number of years but in fact my work has been moving away from from construction and building for quite some time for the passport.

This sort of work is now in front of my day job fantastic and her much more about that later, but let's start with Francis car one of the guys at BBC monitoring in France are referred to the situation is the Ukraine crisis that's because that's how it's headline in the Western media is this the kind of language the Russian Media is using for example which is the most popular source information Russians around two-thirds of people they watch on a regular basis the picture as you can imagine.

It's completely different any accusations of the name in Russian invasion of Randy dismisses anti-russian be scary or simply complete nonsense and delivery is apparently defensive weapons by the u.s.

And UK Ukraine are being described as actually whipping up tensions in the region and actually they're saying the west of simply pumping Ukraine full of Weapons

Repairing it to attack the Rebels in the Easter Donetsk Republic and what about the Ukrainian Media Sarah rainsford rainsford our colleague the BBC Correspondents east of care many Ukrainian she met they said they haven't actually watch the news since 2014 to protect their nerves are largely behind the government there will be that ukraine's the victim and Russia is the Aggressor the rebel Republics in the east terrorist organisations according to them but of course they're really happened to play this juggling statement from the west Western governments are saying that Russia is imminently about to invade and Ukrainian government which is saying hang on calm down guys things aren't quite as just because that but yeah regarding people's anxiety in Ukraine I was speaking to a colleague in our team the other day and she was saying that there are definitely a lot of people who have kind of them.

Maybe a Russian invasion, they can't do anything about it if it happens so in the meantime.

They may as well, so you their mental health by avoiding all the anxiety of watching the news right and so clearly either way in the region is very different depending on where you are bored about this from Android perks of the journalist at Medusa News website that's based in Latvia so it's the Bypass Russian censorship.

He says that some Western reporting is basically I can do a llamas clickbait he starts to report in built in Germany last weekend that claimed to have Putin's plan for a full-scale invasion that would involve internment camps for ukrainians equals that foreign entertainment which he says Leeds ordinary Russians to trust the west even less.

What do you think about that? It's definitely a problem that many Russians especially young people they hold the west in high regard, and they want a future for their own country where the major is this phrase isn't the West and they're looking at some of these speculative reports about what fruit in might be planning.

In Ukraine and lots of reputable outlets publishing report sighting anonymous intelligence sources in the US and the UK which verify and they're asking how can we trust this anymore than we are trusting? What are endorsements telling us? I'm just going back to that John against you a turntable you spotted that Putin was using the informal when addressing micro which some say is being his way of signalling to Russian viewers that their friends and not Russia isn't some sort of pariah.

How do you read it to raise of addressing someone by which is less formal and which is more formal and somebody the listeners might remember our correspondent Steve Rosenberg was on a while ago talking about his interview with Alexander Belarus who do you say less formal address for Steve and Steve took this as almost belittlement and the temperature in something.

I think what she was doing with macron was slapped.

He was trying to say that I'm part of the club or important Nations I'm on the high Table of global politics and this of course is a really big statement from food because of organisations which is now the G7 of course and he wants to show that Russia is there in in the club ultimate ok? Well, let me bring in Benjamin street, because I said I'm at the role open-source investigators are playing in our understanding of the situation and then you're the investigations director at the centre for information resilience which is a not-for-profit dedicated to exposing the information operations by governments.

See you're an expert in sifting through satellite imagery social media anything digital that's out there hence the term open source.

What are your team finding in to Russia and Ukraine I think we're not really establishing in his findings what we really trying to do is is identify? What's really happening on the ground because when we are.

narratives that are coming out we're not necessarily working to counter or battle against those narratives, but rather just really pick out and tease out the details of what's happening on the ground and as he said so much information at doing that from locals filming Beatles driving past two aerial traffic to satellite images while it's a combination of all those sorts of things that when crossed print with the narratives that are coming out in state media and different organisations and representatives that there is a difference in occurrence of perhaps less intimidation of in comparison to what we really staying which is quite intimate quite heavy intimidation of these build up as well stop what you're putting out and other open source investigators who are tracking as you say there's military convoys their geolocated his videos by identifying road signs bends in the road and

This technique is the moment I just want to know how do you know that what's been posted hasn't been put up there deliberately to full that likes of you.

That's right.

That's a dangerous game of this.

I think I seem to say is that as Alison by dimension before none of us are really qualified in this field.

We enter this field without a specific degree or a specific registration, but that's the best thing about it is something out under my name most people won't believe it, but because I'm transparent and because most of us to transparent.

They can dig through and see where our findings and that's the best thing about a lot of this.

It was saying online is it yes someone might post the video and they my postal location but cross-referencing and identifying that information with trees signs and McDonald's sign in the background for instance might actually read that information is true, and that's how we are able to use those 10 people facts to cross-reference improve.

What's actually there on the ground and that's how we prove that sort of link and that proof in the pudding there.

Frances us congresswoman by the name of Mrs Larkin was Lampoon buy some last week when she advised ukrainians if Russia does invade she said flood the internet with pictures and videos with embarrassing content you can get for the Russian people to see that their leader is a fraud and a fug does Putin fear embarrassing post on social media meme on the one hand the Kremlin does keep it sting of Birmingham the post of public opinion and even commission poles the kind of see how people are viewing sensitive issues, but I personally think she's misread Russian Society here because the last few years the cocktail of conspiracy theories and sometimes you just outright lies every time is accused of something we talking about the photos and videos of thousands and thousands of

Train to really cause a shift in Russian public opinion, thank you very much.

I promised at the start of the program that we look at how the digital sleuthing Ben is and has now been adopted by a lot of mainstream news outlets.

Let me introduce you to the rest of my panel.

Alexa Kane is the executive director of the human rights centre at the Berkeley school of Law Alison killing is the winner of the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in international reporting Hayley Willis is Visual investigations report at the New York Times and Haley if I can start with you welcome to the media show you have been investigating civilian casualties in USA and drone strikes because all jealous so looking to get impact with the reporting but I mean this is pretty impressive 2-weeks ago the US defense they issued an order to military top brass.

They can be summarised effectively as do more do more to not kill the innocent and he said the protection of civilians remains vital to the ultimate success of our

That was Lord Austin soheili explain your newspapers role in exposing what the US military was getting tragically wrong and This Changing policy announcement after a series of investigations the reporting of arsenic for many many years and we've done a lot of work into you know how air strikes happen contact forces that are calling the strikes as well as the US military refuse to you.

So it was able to get a huge Trove of documents, but basically the military planes and a big part of that was looking into what they are getting.

Are they were selling 2000000000000 doing that as well as kind of individual investigation of these bus strikes and pick up on that one.

You know if possible remember.

It was just as Kabul felt the taleban back in August the US claimed.

They taken out an Islamic state Mastermind in retaliation for suicide attack on the airport a few days before in actual.

They took does an aid worker driving home from work and they killed a total of 10 civilian, so tell us how were you able to prove this really quite soon after the incident.

What sort of techniques.

Did you use and what material is absolutely so this happened.

Just remember on a Sunday and we were accounts on social media and we started seeing videos.

What was the aftermath of something smoke rising from a residential home and people pouring water over a courtyard and these videos are coming out at the same time they were coming out with us, so RC Media researcher work tried to do ok or just something that you already there were some details of the Us released about how far from the airport and so the first thing that we did as we tried to locate work and immediately as we done we release that information publicly available and not allowed on the ground investigation as possible in the weeks following above my colleague continue to dig into the details of their so who was targeted by and brilliant covered and everything.

They analysed videos and photos of the military secondary explosion in the vehicle they were able to get security camera footage that show the lyrics to no evidence in the various activity and actually showed that something as simple and there's no evidence that he was connected to one side was my colleagues were able to put his boss and you know very quickly after the supporting information of this kind of open source.

Before I bring in Alexa from human rights centre about this colour.

I just want to know a bit more about these techniques because they are I hope I always will find absolutely riveting your Alison killing.

Tell us how you use your training is an architect to work out from satellite photos that the Chinese government building camps in xinjiang province as we know they claim there a necessary measure against terrorism when we went to Colin and on this when we started working in 2018.

It was believed 1200 camps and existence but only a handful of times, but it's very difficult to work but actually what's more important is that is very difficult many journalist in China have not been denied Jesus it's very difficult and people have been.

Followed detained best sources intimidated difficult to work and what we spent a little while researching potential techniques and then we discovered that in which is the Chinese version of Google Maps that was that when you navigate to to place where we knew that there was a pretty realise that it wasn't that we could use this and also the it was happening in other locations where when you come to be and so we started to map censorship and then go and look at the same location and that allowed us to identify what we believe is very close to.

Use a lot of stuff for that.

So that was identifying key features of camps that was perfect for limited walls and talking like to stick and guard Towers at the corners of those whether it was why I haven't courtyards and those things helps us to determine whether it was likely to be a camper.

Not and then we corroborated that using eyewitness reports we spoke to dozens of former detainees several of them were able to help government tender documents Media reports and you won the Pulitzer Prize for all this Benjamin stick straight.

I want to hear more about your work in a moment, but because you're doing sorry.

I was trying to speak I want to hear about your work at the moment cuz you're actually not.

Concentrating on Ukraine and Russia you also looking to a lot of analysis of me and tell us about that we run a project at the centre for information resilience called me essentially an effort to collect preserve document and investigate social media evidence of potential interferences with human rights abuses and I really was something that was around for a history lesson that wasn't really around for the 2017/2018.

Where many people start to learn about a horrific things that were happening in the and around this could have stayed against the range of populations and so now we have something a lot more different because then we didn't necessarily have the influx of social media information coming out.

There was a lot of restrictions on the ground again as someone mentioned before journalist couldn't access that and

Lighter after the fact that we found the village of been destroyed all those and and so on and so forth now.

We're getting to a point where within 24-hours be able to identify when a village destroyed and document that not only on satellite metre but from the ground which in a judicial aspect for Justice and accountability purposes is it's not great, but it's really good because it's not great but this is actually happening on the ground, but it's good that we are able to capture that preserve that and verify that information to the that can be used by Justice and accountability mechanisms down there and it's really it's amazing that we can have this sort of project running with able to not only do that, but they give some representative representability to some of those civilians on the ground know that thing is actually happening at something has been done and the international community's listening to this and what steps do you take to protect people who might have given you information whether that's life piano video.

You might get from them.

Yeah, well, I mean that's a really good question because we often like to work with media.

We get asked a lot to work with me but at the same time some of the information that we do even if it is from social media.

We take that bonus to not share that with them because it's amplifying further that material that might put them in danger, but it's also that this on top of it, which Hayley Princeton mention about geolocation that can be quite dangerous to a villager who was filmed a fire in another village and that attract them back to where they living so with things like that.

We're actually keeping that quite private and just sending that to the Justice McCann ability mechanisms and where it's safe to do, so will share in media.

So that they can report on that and give that advocacy as well as accountability aspect for both angles.

You know you.

teach a lot of the skills and I think Haley is one of your former pupils is it just journalist who want to learn them and one of the things that we were the judges and prosecutors for not bringing information assessment information about Derek Acorah and

So we're together and ultimately to triangulate physical evidence and really is photos and videos for students professionals program.

We are doing training or research to do you think the ability to work as a journalist in many parts of the world.

The reasons why open source investigative techniques have taken off in the last 10 years of managing is can't just wander around China or wonder around me and Mark see your people and understanding reconsideration place order.

Alison the striking one of them about this whole approach is the extent to which genus of relying on tech and we talk to his brother many times about the relationship between Silicon Valley and news publishers in general, but this is a whole new level and antagonism and open-source investigator you could find your source material was just taken away Facebook or Twitter ever decides to moderate the evidence or they hit with a court order to delete material by an overseas government.

Is is that a real concern have an absolutely rely on and access to those two both of those things are concerned we saw in the case of the the war in Syria that.

Documenting what was happening around them putting it to YouTube and then you should be taking taking that down and providing potential evidence of such as the Syrian archive to the cricket documents that they could be there for future research is slightly different and we've been very lucky.

It's available in three tools such as Google and as high-resolution and we often got that month few months.

What was happening but the cost of stuff is absolutely.

Exist an Alexa you're the executive director of the human rights centre Berkeley school of Law which is a giveaway as a motivation you talked about it and terms of bringing people to Justice is having a global news outlet use more effective than an NGO the power journalism in other words screen digital information information communication a video please.

I need you.

I hate this but it is right.

I'm so sorry.

Thank you to you.


That's ok.

Nick Hayley Willis Benjamin strick Alison killing and Francis that was the media show thank you for list.

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