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Journalism Cloud Alliance Launches to Increase Investigative and Accountability Reporting Capacity Worldwide

17. April 2024

Consortium will Examine Ways to Solve Data Storage Challenges

April 17, Perugia, Italy – The Journalism Cloud Alliance launched today at the International Journalism Festival to ensure that watchdog journalism can perform its public service role by controlling the rising costs and constraints of cloud computing and developing collaborative solutions to collective challenges.

The Alliance is spearheaded by the Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD) and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and partners include: Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN), International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), Pulitzer Center, Center for Journalism and Liberty, Big Local News, Distributed Denial of Secrets (DDoSecrets), Forbidden Stories, Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN), and Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ), alongside academic and philanthropic organizations. (Other news outlets and aligned groups can join the Alliance by contacting director@gfmd.info.) The Patrick J. McGovern Foundation provided initial funding for the Journalism Cloud Alliance and inaugural meeting.

“The Journalism Cloud Alliance is crucial to building the blueprint for the future of investigative reporting,” said OCCRP Co-Founder, Paul Radu. “As journalists, we’re flooded with data we can’t process, analyze, and report on and it’s the public that loses because of this situation. We need to create a data infrastructure that allows us to create more trust with readers and help lead to more robust democracies.”

Cloud services are infrastructural to journalism today and likely to become even more important as the amount of data generated increases and AI is integrated more fully into newsrooms and the journalistic process, imposing significant new costs and constraints on investigative, data and local journalism.

Collaborative, cross-border investigative journalism involves scores of journalists working with thousands of documents, vast datasets, and terabytes of raw data to uncover wrongdoing and holding those in power accountable. Local journalism also increasingly relies on leveraging data and emerging AI tools, resulting in higher server processing and storage costs to carry out their public service roles.

“Investigative journalists do some of the most consequential work in most countries,” said Mira Milosevic, Executive Director of the Global Forum for Media Development. “We can’t overestimate how important it is for the public and the world that these media organizations have the tools they need to be able to do their jobs.”

During the meeting, attendees delved into the findings of a recent pilot survey of investigative and data journalism organizations that represent hundreds of news organizations from dozens of countries. The survey asked about data storage and processing requirements and revealed such insights as:

  • The majority of respondents (94%) are expecting to increase their use of audio, video, and large imagery processing in the future.
  • In the next 2 to 3 years, respondents anticipate that their total annual spending on data services, storage, and processing systems will double at the very least.
  • Over half (53%) of respondents indicated that their current computational and cloud infrastructure are inadequate for the investigations they envision for the next two to three years.
  • Participants identified a lack of financial resources as a critical barrier, impacting their capacity to manage growing data volumes effectively.
  • Security of confidential and sensitive data is a top concern when it is stored with cloud providers that are also developing their in-house AI foundation models.

Two comprehensive analyses of market trends in computational and cloud services with a specific emphasis on data storage and processing solutions and the impacts of market concentration were also presented at the meeting.

The Journalism Cloud Alliance aims to democratize access to data storage and processing capacity by promoting collaboration among various stakeholders. The goal is to make such resources more accessible and affordable for investigative and data-driven newsrooms worldwide. Additionally, the commitment extends to supporting both large and small newsrooms, irrespective of their technological capabilities. The Alliance also prioritizes fostering accountability journalism and investigative efforts across all scales. Addressing this challenge will significantly enhance journalistic capacity.

  • Next steps include conducting a detailed cloud capacity and cost research of current and potential members of the Alliance and adding more members to build a robust coalition with the aim of securing long-term financial and technical support for these costs of journalism.

For more information, please contact Liza Bezushko (ybezushko@gfmd.info), or Lauren Jackman (lauren@occrp.org).


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