Friday 25 April 2014

Guardian Masterclasses - How to be a citizen journalist with Brown Moses

I've teamed up with the Guardian to put together a masterclass teaching my methods and techniques.

Citizen journalists are outperforming the mainstream media, breaking new ground and untouchable stories in countries such as China, Kenya and Brazil. But thanks to the vast repositories of video footage, satellite images and eyewitness reports posted on social media, anyone with an internet connection can report from the world's most dangerous territories without setting foot in them. Founder of the famous Brown Moses blog, Eliot Higgins research into the Syrian conflict has inspired questions in parliament, major stories in the Guardian and New York Times, and praise from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

During this large-scale seminar, Eliot reveals the tools and techniques for tracking down sources of new footage and information, verifying facts, spotting fakes and accurately geolocating material. He also offers tips on how to use multiple sources to build up a comprehensive picture of on-the-ground realities.

This course offers a unique opportunity to learn from a recognised pioneer in the field, whose work at the vanguard of social media forensics is prized by news outlets, NGOs and governments alike.

This course is for you if...

  • You're interested in exploiting vast reserves of new information for your own writing or blog
  • You're a journalist looking for new sources for stories or corroborative evidence
  • You're a researcher or investigator for a charity or NGO, especially those working in conflict zones
  • You're a documentary maker who wants to find new, original and trustworthy sources for open source footage
  • You're interested in methods of gathering competitive intelligence

Course description

This is a large-scale seminar during which Eliot Higgins reveals the tools and techniques needed to find, verify and geolocate news footage through social media. Eliot will demonstrate practical application of his methods, using his own investigation of Sarin gas attacks in Damascus as a model. Topics covered on the day include:

  • What is open source information?
  • Finding open source information on social media
  • Primary sources on social media, how to find them and why they are important
  • An introduction to verification and geolocation
  • Advanced verification and geolocation techniques
  • An example of the practical applications of these tools and techniques (The Damascus Sarin attacks)
  • Q&A with Eliot Higgins and Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi

Tutors profile

Eliot Higgins is an independent conflict analyst who attained global recognition through his Brown Moses blog on the Syrian conflict. Drawing on extensive Arabic language Facebook and YouTube pages and Twitter feeds, his research focuses on collating, filtering and analysing images and text from social media platforms that have, among other stories, provided evidence of supplies of arms to various Syrian opposition groups, as well as chemical weapon usage by the Syrian armed forces. His investigations and research have been widely covered in global media, and he has conducted social media forensics work for organisations including Human Rights Watch.

Guest speaker profile

Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi is a Shillman-Ginsburg Fellow at the Middle East Forum and a research fellow for the Forum's Jihad-Intel project.

Ticket information can be found here.  Limited to 100 spots, so book soon.


  1. I've teamed up with the Guardian to put together a masterclass teaching my methods and techniques.

    OMG talk about putting yourself on a pedestal there are a lot more "experts" and more cleverer people around than you around, as for Gaurdian says it all what with its bias on Syria.

    1. Gosh... you're right, Gimli! Thanks for pointing this out.

      Please tell me where I can sign up for the 'correct way of thinking' methods and techniques class. You know... the one where the clever experts have already arrived at the *right* conclusions (=my conclusions). That way, I know my feeble mind will not be swayed by clever propaganda techniques like verification and geolocation.