Citizen Journalism with Bellingcat

Bellingcat is a Kickstarter, crowdfunded website run by Eliot Higgins who was active as Brown Moses on his blog and Twitter.

Higgins has become well known for his use of open source information to investigate the war in Syria and to track the supply chains of weapons used in the conflict. “Journalists assume I’ve worked in the arms trade,” he told the Guardian, “but before the Arab spring I knew no more about weapons that the average Xbox owner. I had no knowledge beyond what I’d learned from Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rambo.”

Higgins became an expert through the dedicated monitoring and verification of YouTube footage from citizen journalists, and his war reporting has prompted questions in Parliament, and has been used as evidence by humans rights organisations. This post claims to geo-locate the location of the murder of Amercian journalist James Foley, although these claims have been disputed.

Contributors to Bellingcat also use open source information for writing on conflict, crime and corruption around the world. As well as reporting, Bellingcat aims to teach others to become citizen journalists with ‘How To’ pages offering guides to geolocating and verifying videos using tools including Google Earth and Wikimapia.