The Bellingcat organization’s use of open-source digital investigations to shed light on Ukraine and other conflict zones is the topic of the 2022 Peter Stursberg Foreign Correspondent’s Lecture.

The event will be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 3, at the Canadian War Museum. Registration in now open.

Since its launch in 2017, the annual Stursberg lecture named in honour of the legendary Second World War correspondent has explored the work of foreign correspondents and their coverage of conflict.

Giancarlo Fiorella, a Senior Investigator at Bellingcat, will deliver this year’s lecture in an event that will be moderated by journalist and former foreign correspondent Nahlah Ayed, host of CBC Radio’s Ideas.

Fiorella will focus on the impact of Bellingcat’s innovative open-source investigations, particularly its work on the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine, as well as investigations into a notorious massacre in Ethiopia’s Tigray region.

Bellingcat is an independent organization that uses open-source digital information to conduct research and it has captured headlines with investigations into such events as the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, to the Syrian civil war, Yemen and most recently Ukraine.

Bellingcat’s ground-breaking work uncovering information in conflict zones has prompted some to openly question if the organization’s form of technology-driven citizen journalism is changing conflict reporting and rivals the work of traditional war correspondents. Indeed, inspired by Bellingcat, such venerable news organizations as the BBC and New York Times have set up their own open-source investigation units.

Using novel methodologies for finding and working with freely available digital information, Bellingcat researchers have unmasked Russian espionage operations, uncovered wildlife smuggling rings on social media, tracked the activities of far-right activists in North America and Europe, and unraveled the killings of journalists and activists around the globe.

Since its launch in 2014, Bellingcat has published award-winning investigations and collaborated on ground-breaking projects with media organizations including CNN, Der Spiegel and the BBC.

Fiorella will talk about Bellingcat’s origins and its rapid progression from a Kickstarter project to an Emmy News-winning leader in its field. The lecture will also provide an overview of the open-source research methodology used by Bellingcat researchers to conduct their investigations.

Fiorella will also provide examples of this methodology in action through a discussion of two key projects on which he has worked: the tracking of instances of harm to civilians during the Russian invasion of Ukraine and a massacre that took place in Ethiopia’s Tigray region last year.

During his time at Bellingcat, Giancarlo has worked on projects uncovering human rights abuses in Colombia, as well as potential war crimes in Ethiopia’s Tigray region and more recently, Ukraine. A Canadian, Fiorella is also a doctoral candidate at the Centre for Criminology and Sociolegal Studies at the University of Toronto, where his research focuses on protest policing practices and civil conflict.

The annual Stursberg lecture, now in its sixth year, was created in honour of legendary Canadian war correspondent Peter Stursberg, who pioneered radio coverage of the Second World War for the CBC. Stursberg passed away at the age of 101 in 2014 and his children Judith Lawrie and Richard Stursberg endowed the talk in his honour.

The Stursberg is one of the journalism school’s most important annual events. Each year, the Peter Stursberg Foreign Correspondents Lecture showcases the world’s most influential foreign correspondents.

Friday, October 7, 2022 in ,
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