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Crime reporting gets a boost in readers: A GNI Journey

Editor’s Note from Ludovic Blecher, Head of Google News Initiative Innovation: The GNI Innovation Challenge program is designed to stimulate forward-thinking ideas for the news industry. The story below by Amos Gelb, publisher of D.C. Witness and Baltimore Witness, is part of an innovator series sharing inspiring stories and learnings from funded projects.Violent crime is…

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Editor’s Note from Ludovic Blecher, Head of Google News Initiative Innovation: The GNI Innovation Challenge program is designed to stimulate forward-thinking ideas for the news industry. The story below by Amos Gelb, publisher of D.C. Witness and Baltimore Witness, is part of an innovator series sharing inspiring stories and learnings from funded projects.

Violent crime is surging across America while cities scramble to reform their criminal justice systems. This is especially difficult because there is no single American criminal justice system. Every jurisdiction has its own practices, methods and even laws. What they all have in common, however, is a lack of reliable, up-to-date information that could drive local change by providing transparency and accountability.

Starting in 2015, D.C. Witness developed a new approach to criminal justice journalism to try to address this issue. Traditional crime reporting can give an incomplete and warped view of what’s really going on, often based on only the most salacious cases. Instead, D.C. Witness reports on every step of every homicide from act to judicial resolution. This offers a distinct perspective across the entire criminal justice landscape.

Since launch, the D.C. Witness team reported on more than 1,300 homicide cases in Washington, D.C., wrote stories and gathered data. The journalism was strong, but the website was clunky and the data a mess. The result: D.C. Witness was having little impact.

The team realized they needed a better way to manage and present the data. But this would require resources beyond the existing budget. So D.C. Witness applied for support from the Google News Initiative Innovation Challenge. D.C. Witness was selected by the GNI with the goal of reengineering their systems. The result was nothing short of a reincarnation.

The GNI process, which requires drawing up detailed project milestones, forced D.C. Witness to tear everything down, reviewing how each process worked, how and why. The team realized they were getting in their own way. They’d committed the cardinal journalist sin of falling in love with their own work, losing sight of its potential value and the audience it served.

Further proof came almost immediately after the database and website were relaunched. As court activity has picked up after the peak of the pandemic, D.C. Witness’s audience has been using new functions developed to provide readers with better, customized case information.

Data and reporting work on violence reduction programs called “violence interrupters” was also effective. D.C. politicians were promoting the programs, boosting funding by $10 million, but there had been neither evaluation nor oversight. The GNI-remade platform enabled D.C. Witness to provide the first public data showing the programs were not working as claimed, dispersing rather than reducing homicides. The resulting public outrage brought critical scrutiny.

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A milestone for King’s Cross: a local innovation hub

Over the last few years, King’s Cross has truly transformed, becoming a thriving hub of innovation and creativity. The transformation is a sign of the UK’s strengths, with its incredible local talent and strong history of leading technological and scientific progress. These strengths inspired us to invest here in King’s Cross, in one of our…

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Over the last few years, King’s Cross has truly transformed, becoming a thriving hub of innovation and creativity. The transformation is a sign of the UK’s strengths, with its incredible local talent and strong history of leading technological and scientific progress. These strengths inspired us to invest here in King’s Cross, in one of our most ambitious developments to date.

Today, together with local MP, Keir Starmer, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, leader of Camden Council Georgia Gould, and our building partners, we celebrated a major milestone in the construction of our new King’s Cross office – and in our long-standing commitment to the UK – as we placed the final beam on our new development.

Keir Starmer, Leader of the Labour Party and MP for Holborn and St Pancras said:

“It’s fantastic to attend not only as the leader of the Labour Party and local MP but as a proud local resident of more than 25 years. Congratulations to Google on your magnificent new building, and for all it represents – a seizing of opportunity, harnessing of talent, the creation of good, sustainable jobs and an immense contribution to our community. You’re showing what can be achieved when forward looking local government partners with the ingenuity of the private sector.”

We have long believed that creativity is spurred by environments that promote connection and wellbeing. This is more important than ever as we adapt to a future of flexible, hybrid working. Our new King’s Cross building will be equipped with new workplace technologies to help global and remote teams collaborate more effectively, build relationships, learn from colleagues and dream up new ways to solve complex challenges.

It will also be a place for community and connection thanks to the ground floor retail and community spaces, which are being curated with — and for — the local community. In the coming weeks, in partnership with more than 30 youth organisations in Camden, we’re excited to open our doors to 500 local young people for a week of taster sessions to inspire school students and job seekers with careers in technology, as well as more than 100 local work experience students.

Innovation extends to the design of the building itself, which is playing an important role in helping us to achieve our goal of going carbon free by 2030. We’re pioneering new technologies that will make our King’s Cross office our most ambitious smart building to date, including a system of 13,500 interconnected devices that will work together to improve energy efficiency in real time.

While the doors of our new King’s Cross development won’t open until 2024, incredible work is already underway nearby. The neighbourhood is home to thousands of our engineers working on products like Android, Wear OS, Search and Google Business Profiles, which are used the world over. In fact, many of the team behind some of our newest products – to be released later this year – are based right here in King’s Cross. We look forward to growing these teams and being a part of the local community’s future growth and development.

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Protecting people’s privacy on health topics

Privacy matters to people — especially around topics such as their health. Given that these issues apply to healthcare providers, telecommunications companies, banks, tech platforms, and many more, we know privacy protections cannot be solely up to individual companies or states acting individually. That’s why we’ve long advocated for a comprehensive and nationwide U.S. privacy…

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Privacy matters to people — especially around topics such as their health. Given that these issues apply to healthcare providers, telecommunications companies, banks, tech platforms, and many more, we know privacy protections cannot be solely up to individual companies or states acting individually. That’s why we’ve long advocated for a comprehensive and nationwide U.S. privacy law that guarantees protections for everyone, and we’re pleased to see recent progress in Congress.

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Google and U.S. developers find agreement over Google Play store

Finally, we’ve heard developers want to understand more about how Google Play operates, which is why we’ve agreed to publish annual transparency reports. The reports will share information about the Google Play Store, including statistics such as apps removed from Google Play, account terminations, and other data regarding how users interact with Google Play. Source

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Finally, we’ve heard developers want to understand more about how Google Play operates, which is why we’ve agreed to publish annual transparency reports. The reports will share information about the Google Play Store, including statistics such as apps removed from Google Play, account terminations, and other data regarding how users interact with Google Play.

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