[ddj] ddj ethics - bbc news database on "british jihadists"

Zara Rahman mail at zararah.net
Mon Jul 6 14:09:08 UTC 2015

Hi everyone,

I just wanted to flag this as an interesting/worrying case of ethics
around data-driven journalism: the BBC just published a searchable
database of "British Jihadists" <http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-32026985>,
complete with personal details (names, photographs, age, home town) of
the individuals in question. The data is "compiled from open sources and
BBC research"  - so, it was already available somewhere online. But I
worry that by making it so easily searchable and public, with so much
personal data, it opens up potential dangers, for example retaliation
attacks on the families of the individuals here, who may well still be
living in the UK. In some of the descriptions, details about how many
children they have and their families are also included.

Would, for example, taking the personal details away from the database
significantly affect the impact of the story?

As some people on Twitter have also been saying, it makes for an
interesting case study around ethics in data journalism. I'd be
interested to hear others' thoughts on this, too!



Zara Rahman
http://zararah.net | Twitter: @zararah

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