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Stanford Scholars Launch Investigative Data Journalism Initiative

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A group of scholars from Stanford University has taken upon themselves to fight misinformation and help local newsrooms explore issues concerning the public.

On Monday, the university announced the launch of a data-driven initiative to help journalists do high-quality public affairs reporting and find stories at a lower cost.

A cross-departmental collaboration by Stanford Journalism and Democracy Initiative, the program aims to hold accountable public officials and others in positions of power.

“How do you lower the cost of discovering stories through better use of data? We want to give journalists the tools and the data to do it,” said communication scholar James Hamilton.

“How can we take technology to understand what decisions are being made at an institution? At JDI, Stanford faculty and students are going to address these questions.”

The university students will work in close coordination with local newsrooms by making Freedom of Information Act requests and gather data from government records. The students will also help journalists in navigating the data.

“We want to process data in a standardized way so a newsroom can just take the data, follow the story recipe and do the analysis,” Stanford scholar Cheryl Phillips said.

“By helping do that, it makes it more likely that you are going to see that type of investigative, data-driven journalism done.”

The Stanford’s journalism initiative in 2019 also plans to launch a project that will help journalists and news organizations to defend against technology that can manipulate videos and photos.

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