US Press Freedom Tracker
A digital database used to track press freedom related incidents was created as a collaboration between Freedom of the Press Foundation and The Committee to Protect Journalists. I led a thorough qualitative research effort to ensure the tool encompassed various attributes of press freedom infringements and better represent trends in the data. See the tool live here.
Goal | Protect press freedom by increasing advocacy with data collection and distribution
Results | A responsive web tool with data filters and reporting feature
Role | Research Lead
Filters for complex attributes
Research involved interviews with journalists, lawyers, and other advocates for press freedom. In these interviews I learned that there is a long list of challenges that affect journalists while they are in the field and reporting the news - and that these attributes must be reflected in the tool in order to make the data useful. I presented these insights to the front-end designers and they incorporated a rich filtering module into the site.
Allowing journalists to self-report
Many lawyers and advocates I spoke with were distressed by a fear that more incidents undermining press freedom in the US were happening than they had the time to track or uncover. They also indicated that being able to prove a pattern of abuse would favorably change the outcome of many rulings. I recommended to the stakeholders that they include a simple reporting form to encourage further data collection.
The success of this project was baked into the concept: Before the creation of the US Press Freedom Tracker there was no centralized tool for the aggregation of this data - and many people needed access it. As a result we never needed to ask if we were building the right thing.
While the incident reporting form adds value for journalists, it also increases administrative burden for the site administrators. Next steps to improve the tool should involve an audit evaluating how many reports are coming in, at what speed they are processed, and whether this additional work is contributing to the mission of the site in a significant way.