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A new fund to support investigative reporting

Investigative journalism has changed drastically over the past decade. Technology is playing a growing and evolving role in everything from gathering documents to processing data. New tools allow real-time collaboration across newsrooms and continents. While a few news organizations have the staff and resources to take advantage of these technological advances, not enough local news…

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Investigative journalism has changed drastically over the past decade. Technology is playing a growing and evolving role in everything from gathering documents to processing data. New tools allow real-time collaboration across newsrooms and continents. While a few news organizations have the staff and resources to take advantage of these technological advances, not enough local news organizations and freelancers can say the same.

Before our current roles at Northwestern and Google, we worked together at The Washington Post. We were fortunate to be able to arm reporters with ultra-modern technology to work on document-centric news stories. The powerful combination of tools and reporters showed not only in the prizes the reporting won, but also in the tremendous impact it had on lawmakers and society. Our colleagues on The Post’s investigative team relied on technology to process and understand the large document sets that powered their award-winning work on projects like the Opioid Files and the Afghanistan Papers. These projects also motivated policy makers to bring about important societal changes.

While we met in a national newsroom, we both have roots in local journalism. We know how important accountability reporting can be to local communities. Smaller newsrooms, especially those that cover marginalized groups, need more resources to supply critical, accountability coverage.

Supporting journalists all over the world and creating tools to help them do their work more efficiently, regardless of their organization’s size, is an essential part of the Google News Initiative. Last year, the GNI launched Journalist Studio, a suite of Google tools to help journalists. This includes Pinpoint, which uses the best of Google’s search, artificial intelligence and machine learning technology to help reporters quickly search through large amounts of documents.

Today, we’re announcing The Data-Driven Reporting Project, a partnership between the GNI and the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University. Medill will run The Data-Driven Reporting Project, which aims to address the inequality of resources for local newsrooms and freelancers when doing essential data-driven, investigative reporting. The project is committed to awarding $2 million to journalists working on document-based investigative projects that serve local and underrepresented communities throughout the United States and Canada.

The goal of the program is to help qualified applicants publish meaningful stories which make use of modern tools and resources. Medill will provide specialized training, expertise and resources to award recipients. The program also seeks to build a greater sense of community among journalists doing this kind of work. When possible, awarded projects will contribute to a growing collection of publicly accessible data for other journalists to explore and use. Medill will put together a jury of academics, journalists and technologists to vet applicants and choose projects to fund. Google will have no role in the jury or project selection process.

The Data-Driven Reporting Project reflects Journalist Studio’s focus on giving reporters access to tools and training. Pinpoint can transcribe audio files and recognize handwriting and text in images. The tool has proved useful to several journalists at, for example, The Boston Globe, which analyzed hundreds of documents in their Pulitzer-Prize-winning series Blindspot; Mexico-based Quinto Elemento’s investigation into corporate corruption; and the Philippines-based Rappler’s examination of CIA reports from the 1970s.

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Countering hack-for-hire groups

As part of TAG’s mission to counter serious threats to Google and our users, we’ve published analysis on a range of persistent threats including government-backed attackers, commercial surveillance vendors, and serious criminal operators. Today, we’re sharing intelligence on a segment of attackers we call hack-for-hire, whose niche focuses on compromising accounts and exfiltrating data as…

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As part of TAG’s mission to counter serious threats to Google and our users, we’ve published analysis on a range of persistent threats including government-backed attackers, commercial surveillance vendors, and serious criminal operators. Today, we’re sharing intelligence on a segment of attackers we call hack-for-hire, whose niche focuses on compromising accounts and exfiltrating data as a service.

In contrast to commercial surveillance vendors, who we generally observe selling a capability for the end user to operate, hack-for-hire firms conduct attacks themselves. They target a wide range of users and opportunistically take advantage of known security flaws when undertaking their campaigns. Both, however, enable attacks by those who would otherwise lack the capabilities to do so.

We have seen hack-for-hire groups target human rights and political activists, journalists, and other high-risk users around the world, putting their privacy, safety and security at risk. They also conduct corporate espionage, handily obscuring their clients’ role.

To help users and defenders, we will provide examples of the hack-for-hire ecosystem from India, Russia, and the United Arab Emirates and context around their capabilities and persistence mechanisms.

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Preserving languages and the stories behind them

Our Potawatomi tribe partner, Justin Neely, is using Woolaroo to promote and preserve the Potawatomi’s language, Bodéwadmimwen, among students and young people. “Words, phrases and verb conjugations show how the Potawatomi see the world — with an emphasis on connection to the earth, a high regard for mother nature and living beings, and a communal…

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Our Potawatomi tribe partner, Justin Neely, is using Woolaroo to promote and preserve the Potawatomi’s language, Bodéwadmimwen, among students and young people. “Words, phrases and verb conjugations show how the Potawatomi see the world — with an emphasis on connection to the earth, a high regard for mother nature and living beings, and a communal lifestyle,” says Neely. Neely felt that Woolaroo would suit children in particular, allowing them to use technology as a way to explore their heritage.

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Go on an epic adventure with Netflix’s “The Sea Beast”

Craving a different type of drive this summer? Go on a high-seas adventure without stepping off land. Activate Waze’s latest driving experience, inspired by Netflix’s newest movie, “The Sea Beast.” (Check out the trailer and the film on Netflix July 8.)Starting today, you’ll meet the dynamic duo of Maisie, a precocious stowaway, and Blue, a…

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Craving a different type of drive this summer? Go on a high-seas adventure without stepping off land. Activate Waze’s latest driving experience, inspired by Netflix’s newest movie,The Sea Beast.” (Check out the trailer and the film on Netflix July 8.)

Starting today, you’ll meet the dynamic duo of Maisie, a precocious stowaway, and Blue, a little beast with a huge mischief streak, and revel in the unlikely comedy of their friendship as they help you navigate every turn you take on Waze. And don’t worry: Maisie will help translate Blue’s sounds for you. You’ll also get to know some other Beasts that they find on their journey when you choose between three new Moods: Blue, Red and Yellow. Don’t forget to swap your vehicle for a Lifeboat, to get into the true adventurer’s spirit.

With Sea Beast Mode activated, get ready to explore the world together, on a journey full of surprise, wonder and funny banter — because where the map ends, the adventure begins.

If you’re interested in seeing the magic in real life, Netflix is hosting a series of experiences across the U.S. at aquariums, museums and more to celebrate the launch of The Sea Beast.

For a drive that takes you to the seas, visit Waze or click “My Waze” in your Waze app and tap the “Turn on Sea Beast Mode” banner to activate. It’s available globally, in English, for a limited time.

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