Shan Wang at NiemanLab: “A family’s garage vandalized with an image of a swastika and a hateful message targeted at Arabs. Jewish community centers receiving bomb threats. These are just a slice of the incidents of hate across the country after the election of Donald Trump — but getting reliable data on the prevalence of hate and bias crimes to answer questions about whether these sorts of crimes are truly on the rise is nearly impossible.
ProPublica, which led an effort of more than a thousand reporters and students across the U.S. to cover voting problems on Election Day as part of its Electionland project, is now leaning on the collaborative and data-driven Electionland model to track and cover hate crimes.
Documenting Hate, launched last week, is a hate and bias crime-tracking project headed up by ProPublica and supported by a coalition of news and digital media organizations, universities, and civil rights groups like Southern Poverty Law Center (which has been tracking hate groups across the country). Like Electionland, the project is seeking local partners, and will share its data with and guide local reporters interested in writing relevant stories.
“Hate crimes are inadequately tracked,” Scott Klein, assistant manager editor at ProPublica, said. “Local police departments do not report up hate crimes in any consistent way, so the federal data is woefully inadequate, and there’s no good national data on hate crimes. The data is at best locked up by local police departments, and the best we can know is a local undercount.”
Documenting Hate offers a form for anyone to report a hate or bias crime (emphasizing that “we are not law enforcement and will not report this information to the police,” nor will it “share your name and contact information with anybody outside our coalition without your permission”). ProPublica is working with Meedan (whose verification platform Check it also used for Electionland) and crowdsourced crisis-mapping group Ushahidi, as well as several journalism schools, to verify reports coming in through social channels. Ken Schwencke, who helped build the infrastructure for Electionland, is now focused on things like building backend search databases for Documenting Hate, which can be shared with local reporters. The hope is that many stories, interactives, and a comprehensive national database will emerge and paint a fuller picture of the scope of hate crimes in the U.S.
ProPublica is actively seeking local partners, who will have access to the data as well as advice on how to report on sensitive information (no partners to announce just yet, though there’s been plenty of inbound interest, according to Klein). Some of the organizations working with ProPublica were already seeking reader stories of their own….(More)”.