bellingcat.com will unite citizen investigative journalists to use open source information to report on issues that are being ignored. Read more
This project was successfully funded on August 15, 2014.
About this project
Breaking news re: MH17
8/2/14: The Daily Beast
"MH17 Missile Can't Hide From These Internet Sleuths."
7/24/14: The Age
It's important to note these investigations were done by a variety of people, showing the importance of making open source investigation tools and techniques available to anyone," Higgins wrote. This is what Bellingcat is about.
A group of citizen journalists armed with simple intuition and an Internet connection have been collecting information more nimbly than American spies.
The Russian Defence Ministry had been caught in a lie. Read more here.
7/23/14: The Guardian
On his new Bellingcat blog, Higgins writes that there is a growing consensus that the plane was hit by shrapnel on the front port side, not the rear of the aircraft as some have claimed. But Higgins believes the Ukrainians have sown confusion through their use of pictures of a Buk missile launcher which they claim was used by separatists.
7/21/14: Channel 4
I would recommend [journalists] look at a website started by auto-didact weapons expert Elliot Higgins, who is collating all the photos.
7/18/14: Deutsche Welle
Removing information quickly Investigative journalist Eliot Higgins from the platform bellingcat.com shared a video of what's supposed to be a missile launcher travelling through Snizhne.
Launch day press
Note about Paypal
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What is Bellingcat?
Bellingcat will bring together both critically acclaimed and emerging citizen investigative journalists using open source information to investigate, collaborate, and report on worldwide issues that are being underreported and ignored.
Open source information, which is information freely available to anyone through the Internet—think YouTube, Google Maps, Reddit—has made it possible for ANYONE to gather information and source others, through social media networks. Think the Syrian Civil War. Think the Arab Spring.
Bellingcat focuses on two main objectives:
1. It will unite a group of citizen investigative journalists who through using open source information have transformed journalism and solidified themselves as experts in their fields.
2. It will be a place that will attract others to learn how to use open source tools, techniques, and processes. Bellingcat will include how-to guides, case studies, articles, and other media, which will aid others in becoming citizen investigative journalists on their own.
The practice of journalism is continuing to expand and broaden. We don’t need to exclusively rely on traditional news media to do the digging and reporting for us. We—you—can do it on our own.
Below is some content already available on Bellingcat, with much more to come.
If you donate £5, you will get access to content like this.
Case studies and guides
Evidence of a New Chemical Attack in Syria: Detailing the evidence of the latest chemical reported in the town of Kafr Zita, Syria.
Geolocating the Missile Launcher Linked to the Downing of MH17: A case study looking at the process of finding the exact position a video showing the missile launcher linked to the downing of MH17 was filmed.
Turkey Wonk – Kurdistan’s Moment?: Aaron Stein and Dov Friedman discuss all things Kurdistan for the Turkey Wonk Podcast.
August 21st – The Rebels Did It!: A look at some of the many theories that the Syrian opposition was responsible for the August 21st Sarin attacks.
Brown Moses – Peter Jukes: Eliot Higgins talks to Peter Jukes about his coverage of the UK phone hacking trials, and what's next for the phone hacking scandal.
If you find these case studies and guides useful please share your thoughts on them with your friends, colleagues, and Twitter followers. And to access them on Bellingcat, again, it's only £5.
About Brown Moses
Brown Moses, the founder of Bellingcat, is the pseudonym for Eliot Higgins, a laid-off government worker turned blogger turned weapons analysis expert and leading source of information on the conflict in Syria.
Higgins began his Brown Moses blog in March 2012, devoting himself to studying everything he could find online about the Syrian conflict. Unable to understand or speak Arabic, he focused on something purely visual: weapons.
Two years later, he is celebrated as an expert on the weapons used in the Syrian conflict and for being the first to break numerous stories on the Syrian conflict, all while never having set foot in a warzone.
Mainstream news organisations have fully developed staff and resources; yet Eliot, alone in his home on his computer, found ways to break news many of them could not.
The website will be split into two sections: News and Resources.
At launch, contributors will be writing on Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Kurdistan, Nigeria, Jihadists, Shia armed groups, the UK phone hacking scandal, police corruption, and more; plus podcasts and other media on various subjects.
The website will be fully responsive and work on any device.
We need your help
We believe so strongly in the power of open source that we’ve chosen to raise funds through crowdfunding.
There is urgency behind this mission. Crowdfunding allows us to move forward quickly and without financial blessing or permission from any higher institutions.
Bellingcat is currently in development and being beta tested (get exclusive access to the beta with the £5 reward). Our £47,000 goal will help finish website development, run it for six months, and cover administrative fees. (A reminder that Kickstarter funding is all or nothing. If we raise £46,999, we get nothing.)
Later, we have plans to partner with major news and technology organisations for additional support. If we exceed the target then the additional funds will go towards keeping the website running for longer, hiring members of staff, and supporting projects that contributors may start developing.
The success of this open source endeavor relies on YOU. Your involvement will help us start something necessary, special, and important.
Peter Jukes: Writer behind “Beyond Contempt - The Inside Story of the Phone Hacking Trial,” about the UK phone hacking scandal he famously live tweeted.
Jonathan Krohn: Writer for The Guardian, The Atlantic Monthly, etc. NYT called him a wunderkind; at 14 he was a finalist for Time’s 100.
Phillip Smyth: Writer behind the blog Hizballah Cavalcade, which concentrates on Shiite Islamist militarism in the Middle East.
Karl Morand: Host of the Middle East Week podcast, middleeastweek.org
Oz Katerji: Writer/filmmaker focused on Levantine politics. Contributor, VICE and BBC.
Aaron Zelin: Founder of Jihadology, jihadology.net.
Daniel Kaszeta: Life-long security and CBRN specialist.
Aaron Stein: Writer focusing on Turkish politics and regional proliferation for Arms Control Wonk and more.
Valerie Szybala: Former Research Analyst at the Institute for the Study of War, current Syria NGO entrepreneur and researcher.
Chris Brace: Long time writer on the UK phone hacking scandal.
Pieter Van Ostaeyen: Independent Analyst focusing on Jihadists and foreign fighters in Syria, writing on http://pietervanostaeyen.wordpress.com/
Frederic Jacobs: Information security researcher writing about computer networks, forensics and open source analysis tools.
Alex Daly: Kickstarter producer dubbed the "crowdsourceress." Founder of Vann Alexandra.
Hamish Smyth: Graphic designer based in New York City. www.hamishsmyth.com
Sebastian Lenton: Web developer based in Birmingham. www.sebastianlenton.com
Risks and challenges
The biggest challenge will be making this website entirely comprehensive, even while being reliant on Eliot alone. Bellingcat wants to take advantage of every opportunity and new tool that comes along and doing that could be difficult as a one man operation. That's why one of our stretch goals would be expanding the team and hiring at least one staff member.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.
Pledge £5 or more
EXCLUSIVE BETA ACCESS: Within 24 hours, we will give you exclusive access to the beta version of bellingcat.com. We will also add your name to a list of supporters worldwide who helped make this happen in a special section of the website. We’re a team and you’re a part of it.Estimated delivery:
Pledge £15 or more
VIDEO DEMO: A 15 minute video introduction to open source information and verification available online. Plus above.Estimated delivery:
Pledge £25 or more
STICK TOGETHER: What’s a blogger without their laptop (and some swag for it)? Receive a vinyl sticker pack of the Bellingcat logo to apply to the back of your laptop or anywhere! Plus all the above.Estimated delivery:Ships anywhere in the world
Pledge £35 or more
T-TIME: Receive a custom designed Bellingcat t-shirt and wear the cause right on your chest. Plus all of the above.Estimated delivery:Ships anywhere in the world
Pledge £50 or more
INVESTIGATIVE STARTER KIT: Want to know how others have used open source tools to break news stories? We’ll send you an hour long video on open source information, verification techniques (and much more), in addition to the £15 reward. Plus two extensive podcasts where Eliot will talk at length about 1) the start of the Brown Moses Blog to Bellingcat and 2) a discussion about open source information with a variety of Bellingcat contributors. AND exclusive access to the beta version of the website.Estimated delivery:
Pledge £75 or more
The £50 reward level. Plus exclusive beta access, the sticker pack, and t-shirt.Estimated delivery:Ships anywhere in the world
Pledge £250 or more
SKYPE 1-ON-1 WITH ELIOT: Have some questions specific to your own experience? Eliot is only one Skype call away and more than happy to talk to you, answer questions, and offer advice. Plus all the above.Estimated delivery:Ships anywhere in the world
Pledge £250 or more
SKYPE 1-ON-1 WITH PETER JUKES: Sourcing others and helping each other is what Bellingcat is all about. Skype with Peter Jukes, the man behind live tweeting the UK phone hacking scandal. Plus all the above (except the other £250 reward).Estimated delivery:Ships anywhere in the world
Pledge £500 or more
SPONSOR: Sponsor one episode of the Brown Moses Blog podcast, with the sponsorship message at the start, middle, and end of the podcast. Plus all the above.Estimated delivery:Ships anywhere in the world
Pledge £1,000 or more
BROWN MOSES PRESENTS (Local to UK): In the past two years Eliot has spoken at numerous events and been interviewed by countless top publications. Now it’s your turn to hear from him. For your contribution, Eliot will deliver a keynote presentation about open source, his work, activism, and issues important to you specifically. (Transportation and accomodation costs not included.)Estimated delivery:Ships anywhere in the world
Pledge £1,000 or more
1 backer All gone!
PEN TO PAPER BY MOLLY CRABAPPLE: Receive a one of a kind 5.5 x 8 ink hand-drawn piece of art by Molly Crabapple capturing the classic fable behind Bellingcat. Called "An emblem of the way art can break out of the gilded gallery" by the New Republic, Molly has drawn in Guantanamo Bay, Abu Dhabi's migrant labor camps, and with rebels in Syria. Please visit her website for samples of her artistic style: www.mollycrabapple.comEstimated delivery:Ships anywhere in the world
Pledge £1,500 or more
BROWN MOSES PRESENTS (Anywhere in Europe): In the past two years Eliot has spoken at numerous events and been interviewed by countless top publications. Now it’s your turn to hear from him. For your contribution, Eliot will deliver a keynote presentation about open source, his work, activism, and issues important to you specifically. (Transportation and accomodation costs not included.)Estimated delivery:Ships anywhere in the world
Pledge £2,500 or more
BROWN MOSES PRESENTS (Rest of the World): In the past two years Eliot has spoken at numerous events and been interviewed by countless top publications. Now it’s your turn to hear from him. For your contribution, Eliot will deliver a keynote presentation about open source, his work, activism, and issues important to you specifically. (Transportation and accomodation costs not included.)Estimated delivery:Ships anywhere in the world
0 backers Limited (25 left of 25)
BELLINGCAT BRAND SPONSOR: If you or your like-minded institution believe in this project and its mission we’d love for you to join us as a sponsor. For a month we will feature your brand under the contributor profile on each post, on every email alert, and daily Tweet.Estimated delivery:Ships anywhere in the world
- (32 days)