While Reddit’s amateur sleuths tend to draw groans or worse for their sloppy crowdsourcing efforts (misidentifying the Boston Marathon suspects comes to mind), an English blogger has carved out a vital place in the news cycle with his meticulous and tenacious crowdsourced reporting.
Last week, Eliot Higgins (who was the subject of a glowing profile in the New Yorker) raised £50,891 on Kickstarter to fund a new open source news project, Bellingcat, which would equip citizen journalists with the training and tools to carry out online investigations responsibly. Over the weekend, Bellingcat (which is the spiritual successor to Brown Moses, Higgins’s Blogspot that found that Syria had chemical weapons in its arsenal) has already had its first major scoop: It looks like it located an ISIS training camp.
The evidence so far is pretty compelling: Geographic details were cross-referenced with location data on Google Earth, and image-matching tools were used to confirm location-specific details, like street lamps and signage.
Although Bellingcat was knocked offline for a few minutes Monday morning, the investigation is smart, judicious, and wholly worth your time. Read about it here.