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Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas

Digital investigations for journalists: How to follow the digital trail of people and entities

Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas and The University of Texas at Austin via Independent

Overview

Digital services and products touch nearly every aspect of our lives. They’re core to business, government, and social interactions, which means they’re essential elements of any investigation. Journalists need to know how to gather, monitor, analyze and make sense of the digital trail and presence of any person or entity.

Syllabus

Introduction Module: Fundamentals of digital investigations

In the introductory module, you will get an overview of the course structure and meet the instructors. You’ll also read about the fundamentals of digital investigations, and get your computer set up with the correct (free!) software and plugins.

Module 1: Investigating people and social media accounts
Brandy Zadrozny, investigative reporter, NBC News

This module will cover:

  • Using social media and public information to investigate a person
  • Investigating who’s really behind a social media account
  • Applying your backgrounding research to inform a story

Module 2: Search techniques for finding and monitoring
Jane Lytvynenko, senior reporter, BuzzFeed News

This module will cover:

  • Monitoring and investigating Twitter using advanced keyword searches and Tweetdeck
  • Searching Facebook
  • Verifying images and videos using reverse search and WeVerify

Module 3: Investigating websites
Craig Silverman, media editor, BuzzFeed News

This module will cover:

  • Analyzing the content and social spread of a website
  • Using whois records to examine the ownership and details of a domain name
  • Connecting websites together using Google AdSense and Analytics codes

Module 4: Network analysis
Johanna Wild, investigator and tech innovation lead, Bellingcat

This module will cover:

  • Learning the basics of network analysis, and how to apply it to digital investigations
  • Performing network analysis using data from social networks
  • Using data visualization for network analysis
 

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