How digital journalism is tackling global challenges – and even fighting crime

Osint 2
Osint 2
Type: Text
Category: Interviews, Industry insights

Having worked as a producer, cameraman, editor and drone operator for some of the biggest news organisations in the world, module leader for MA Journalism online, Edward Kiernan knows that modern journalistic practice is about more than unearthing a great story.  

“To make it in media, people need to think about the less traditional sides of journalism”, Edward tells us.   

“Ultimately the more skills you have, the more opportunities you're going to get.”  

Over the last 20 years, the shift to online and digital-first news has pushed traditional print and broadcast journalists to take up new technologies and techniques to stay ahead of the curve, transforming newsrooms with an influx of new skills.  

“Now, there are positions that need filling in podcasts, TV, digital video, radio, as well as your typical writing roles. All of those roles require different digital skills.   

“Employers want to see a varied skillset. When I went back to NBC my new title was ‘Technical Field Producer’. That’s purely a fancy term to say that I was the producer, cameraman, editor and drone operator.” 

So, with the scene for media production ever changing, what’s the latest technology on the market?  

The unstoppable rise of Open-Source Intelligence 

One facet of journalism that has been totally transformed by technological innovations is investigative journalism. 

OSINT – Open-Source Intelligence – utilises vast swathes of public data to help investigate stories. Think face recognition, but on a whole new level.

As Edward told us, “OSINT is one of the areas in journalism that’s booming right now. If you have OSINT as a skill, you’re almost guaranteed to get a job in journalism.” 

Edward uses the attack on the United States Capitol building as a perfect example of OSINT’s merits. “Journalists were identifying the perpetrators of the attack faster than the US government could”, Edward explains. “A lot of the individuals involved in the attack organised themselves over social media – a space where data is made publicly available.”

Journalists used OSINT to both identify and track the movements of those involved in the riots. 100 days after the attack, over 540 suspects had been identified by government officials, many of whom were tracked down with OSINT technology.

“The New York Times have this huge investigations team which keep winning awards and they’re getting bigger and bigger. Sky News just started a dedicated OSINT team, too.”

It’s why Edward has decided to dedicate an entire chunk of his module, Journalism Innovation and Enterprise, to the practice of OSINT for journalism. “We give students a mystery to solve; they have to figure out who it is, what time the image was taken and where they went next.”

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