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Eyewitness images in the genre of open-source investigation

Patricia Cruz



The study “Open-source investigation as a genre of conflict reporting” by Sandra Ristovska from University of Colorado Boulder was about the role and scope of eyewitness images in open-source investigation. In it, the author interviewed journalists from the Visual Investigation Unit at The New York Times, which is dedicated to open-source investigation,  and textually analyzed their video reports.

Central to the study is one aspect of open-source investigation: the reliance on eyewitness images from conflict/war zones. Eyewitness images consist of photographs and videos shot by activists and bystanders, or others who are not professional journalists or affiliated with news organizations.

Since visuality is a prominent news value, the images serve as a platform for voice, which works both on textual and visual level. With eyewitness images, the bystanders claim their right to testify on the events occurring. 

However, the Internet creates asymmetries of visibility, as surveillance capitalism and algorithmic choices of the social media platforms may lead to the uploaded content disappearing from the platforms, as was the case with Youtube and videos on the Syrian Conflict. Banchick (2020) claims that this generates extra tasks, vulnerabilities and frustrations in the work of open-source investigation.

Conflict journalism is often considered a litmus test for journalism. The interviewed participants here commented they utilized eyewitness images to strengthen the voices on the ground. It added credibility to the journalism, and elevated specific voices by providing them visibility in a prestigious newspaper. 

The Visual Investigation Unit was founded in 2017 in response to the chemical weapons attack in Syria by Malachy Brown. The unit, at the time of the study, consists of 10 reporters and 8 video production staffers. Some had background in human rights organizations, one at Bellingcat.

Four journalists, based on availability, were interviewed for the study, and 57 online video reports produced by the unit were analyzed. The interviews had open-ended questions, and consisted of two stages, the initial approximately 40 minute interview and the follow-up 25 minute interview. The journalists were open to having their names used in the study.

The author cautions that the methodology here is not designed to provide an exhaustive account of open-source investigation as a genre of conflict reporting. Rather, the research draws from the notion of thin description, as the researcher has been in contact with the open-source investigation community since 2015. 

The journalists were committed to cover the voices of the people experiencing conflict and injustice and provide diversity to the viewpoints. The chemical attack on Douma was an illustrative case they covered, and thus provided spaces of opportunity for the differing eyewitness perspectives – as the danger in open-source investigation remains that although eyewitnesses produce the evidence, institutions still choose which evidence is available.

Verification was an important factor in privileging images and video. Eyewitness images and video are easier to verify, and conversely harder to discredit. The verification process is nevertheless implicated in existing labor dynamics of the newsrooms, and it is not immune to hierarchies or power dynamics.

The concept of new institutionalism helps explain why open-source investigation is taking on some of traditional journalistic features at the core of journalism’s core identity, even as it seeks to be more open and transparent.

The paper proposes that “journalism needs more spaces for negotiation where it listens closely to the communicative needs of diverse eyewitness voices”, as the author puts it. Currently, the guiding ethos of open-source reporting serves as both a facilitator for the eyewitness voice and a hindrance to its recognition. 

This is particularly important in the time when listening is acknowledged to be a democratic deficit, calling for acknowledging vulnerability and repairing power imbalances.

The study “Open-source investigation as a genre of conflict reporting” by Sandra Ristovska is in Journalism. (open access).

Picture: Unsplash.

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The benefits of practicing mindfulness and how to start

Alice Trout



In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to get caught up in the chaos of everyday life. Between work, family, and other responsibilities, we often forget to take care of ourselves. This is where mindfulness comes in. Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment, without judgment. In this article, we will explore the benefits of practicing mindfulness and how to start.

Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness

  1. Reduces stress and anxiety

Mindfulness can help to reduce stress and anxiety levels. By focusing on the present moment, you can calm your mind and reduce racing thoughts.

  1. Improves mental clarity

Practicing mindfulness can improve mental clarity and focus. It can help to clear your mind of distractions and increase productivity.

  1. Enhances self-awareness

Mindfulness can increase self-awareness and help you to understand your thoughts and emotions better. By being present in the moment, you can learn to recognize your patterns of thinking and behavior.

  1. Improves relationships

Mindfulness can help to improve relationships by increasing empathy and compassion. By being present with others, you can develop a deeper understanding of their needs and feelings.

How to Start Practicing Mindfulness

  1. Set aside time

Set aside a specific time every day to practice mindfulness. It can be as little as 5-10 minutes per day to start.

  1. Find a quiet space

Find a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed. It could be a quiet corner of your home or a quiet park.

  1. Focus on your breath

Focus on your breath and the physical sensations of breathing. Notice the rise and fall of your chest and the sensation of air moving in and out of your body.

  1. Be present

Allow yourself to be present in the moment without judgment. Let your thoughts and emotions come and go without dwelling on them.

  1. Practice regularly

Make mindfulness a regular practice. It takes time to develop the habit, but the benefits are worth it.

In conclusion, practicing mindfulness can have numerous benefits for our mental and physical well-being. It’s a simple yet powerful practice that can be incorporated into our daily lives. By setting aside a few minutes each day to practice mindfulness, we can reduce stress and anxiety, improve mental clarity, and enhance our relationships. So why not give it a try? Your mind and body will thank you for it.

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How to create a perfect morning routine for a productive day

Alice Trout



Do you ever feel like your day has gotten away from you before it even starts? One way to combat this feeling is to create a perfect morning routine. Establishing a routine can help you start your day off on the right foot, and set the tone for a productive and successful day. Here are some tips on how to create a morning routine that works for you.

Determine Your Priorities

Before you start creating a morning routine, it’s important to determine what your priorities are. What are the things that you want to accomplish in the morning? Do you want to exercise, meditate, or have a healthy breakfast? Once you have a list of your priorities, you can start creating a routine that includes them.

Wake Up at the Same Time Every Day

Waking up at the same time every day can help regulate your body’s natural sleep cycle and make it easier to fall asleep at night. Try to wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This can help establish a consistent routine and make it easier to stick to.

Take Time for Yourself

Many people feel rushed and stressed in the morning, but taking some time for yourself can help alleviate this feeling. Whether it’s meditating, reading a book, or simply enjoying a cup of coffee, taking time for yourself can help you start your day feeling calm and centered.


Exercise is a great way to start your day, as it can help increase your energy levels and improve your mood. Whether it’s a quick jog, yoga practice, or weightlifting session, try to include some form of exercise in your morning routine.

Eat a Healthy Breakfast

Breakfast is often called the most important meal of the day, and for good reason. Eating a healthy breakfast can help fuel your body and provide the energy you need to start your day. Try to include protein, whole grains, and fruit or vegetables in your breakfast.

Plan Your Day

Taking a few minutes to plan your day can help you stay focused and productive. Make a to-do list or set priorities for the day, and review your calendar to make sure you’re prepared for any meetings or appointments.

Stick to Your Routine

Once you’ve created a morning routine that works for you, try to stick to it as much as possible. Consistency is key, and sticking to your routine can help establish healthy habits and improve your overall productivity.

In conclusion, creating a perfect morning routine can help set the tone for a productive and successful day. By determining your priorities, waking up at the same time every day, taking time for yourself, exercising, eating a healthy breakfast, planning your day, and sticking to your routine, you can create a morning routine that works for you. Remember, it’s all about finding what works best for you and your lifestyle.

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10 simple yet effective ways to reduce stress in your daily life

Alice Trout



Stress is an inevitable part of our lives, but it can have a negative impact on our mental and physical health if left unchecked. Fortunately, there are several simple yet effective ways to reduce stress in our daily lives. In this article, we will explore 10 such methods that you can easily incorporate into your routine.

Exercise regularly

Physical activity is an excellent way to relieve stress. It helps to release endorphins, which are natural mood-boosters. You don’t have to engage in high-intensity workouts to reap the benefits. Even a brisk walk or light yoga can help reduce stress levels.

Get enough sleep

Lack of sleep can cause irritability, mood swings, and increase stress levels. Make sure you get at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night to feel well-rested and refreshed.

Practice deep breathing

Deep breathing techniques such as diaphragmatic breathing can help to calm your mind and body. Inhale deeply through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat this for a few minutes to feel relaxed.

Spend time in nature

Spending time in nature can have a calming effect on your mind and body. Take a walk in the park or go for a hike in the woods to feel rejuvenated.

Practice mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present moment without judgment. It can help to reduce stress and anxiety levels. Set aside a few minutes every day to practice mindfulness meditation.

Listen to music

Music has a soothing effect on our minds. Listening to calming music can help to reduce stress levels. Create a playlist of your favorite relaxing tunes and listen to it when you feel stressed.

Practice yoga or tai chi

Yoga and tai chi are ancient practices that combine physical postures and breathing techniques. They can help to reduce stress levels and promote relaxation.

Connect with loved ones

Talking to friends and family members can help to reduce stress levels. It can provide a sense of comfort and support during challenging times.

Practice gratitude

Focusing on the positive aspects of life can help to reduce stress levels. Make a habit of practicing gratitude by writing down things you are thankful for every day.

Take breaks

Taking short breaks throughout the day can help to reduce stress levels. Go for a short walk, practice deep breathing or simply take a few moments to close your eyes and relax.

In conclusion, stress is a part of life, but it doesn’t have to take over. By incorporating these simple yet effective methods into your daily routine, you can reduce stress levels and improve your overall well-being. Remember, taking care of yourself should always be a top priority.

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