Modern day journalism

I wanted to highlight The New American Slavery: Invited to the U.S., Foreign Workers Find A Nightmare story by Buzzfeed News.

First and foremost, it’s a staggering account of how people who arrive in the US legally based on an H-2 Visa – those are the visas that are being granted for low-paying jobs – are being mistreated, sexually harassed, underpaid and sometimes killed. Not because this is legal, but because the government, on various levels, fails to ensure the rights that those people have both based on their visa and generally under the constitution of the United States of America. It’s a long article, but worth every minute and should count as a reminder that not only places like Qatar can be critisized for that kind of behavior. The team on Buzzfeed News did a stellar job uncovering it.

But they did not only uncover it, they also documented it in a way that I haven’t seen before. For the research, the team conducted interviews and went through a ton of documents. Usually we do not see the sources that journalists use to write their story and we certainly do not see what they found to be specifically important in said documents. Not so with this story. Buzzfeed’s team uploaded all their documents and highlights to DocumentCloud and linked to the specific passage of the document mentioned in the story. Furthermore they uploaded their Data & Analysis of Labor Department documents to Github and linked to it as well.

It should be noted that this is not only about application of new technology. This kind of behavior makes it significantly harder to poke wholes into a well researched story, because it applies radical transparency by design thus creating a shield for the narrative. Impressive work.