Bellingcat: Truth in a Post-Truth Worldfollows the revolutionary rise of the “citizen investigative journalist” collective known as Bellingcat, a group of online researchers dedicated to exposing the truth of impenetrable news stories from around the world – from the MH17 disaster to the Syrian Civil War to the mysterious poisoning of a Russian spy in the United Kingdom. From his Leicester home, de facto leader Eliot and his team of truth-seekers put newspapers, networks and governments to the test.
Bellingcat uses cutting-edge digital techniques and crowdsourcing to create a faster, more innovative approach than traditional research journalism. For the first time, Bellingcat researchers in Germany, the Netherlands, Finland and the United States have given exclusive access to filmmaker Hans Pool, allowing him to follow the group on their path to demonstrate the power of open source investigation.
Bellingcat’s impact is examined through the lens of their current investigations, as well as the high-profile conflicts they’ve previously reported. In the three years since its inception, Bellingcat has produced a remarkable amount of breaking news while gaining a reputation for trailblazing journalism. For the first time in history, Bellingcat’s efforts led the International Criminal Court to issue an arrest warrant solely based on social media evidence. Just last year, Dutch member Christiaan Triebert was awarded the European Press Prize for innovative journalism for his reporting on the failed Turkish coup.
In a web of propaganda disguised as truth, what drives Bellingcat forward? With governments growing less reliable by the day and traditional newspapers declining in both relevance and reach – how does Bellingcat, dismissed by some critics as an assortment of self-funded “armchair researchers”, have the ability to force powerful world leaders to the international courts where they are held accountable for their crimes? What does their success say about how our world has changed in the face of this century’s paradigm shifting developments in government, technology and social media?
Eliot Higgins (UK) – the visionary
British Eliot was busy investigating the civil war in Libya when, the day before Kaddafi was murdered, when his daughter was born. While at home with his infant daughter, he set up a blog in 2012 calling out the Syrian and Libyan regimes for their war crimes. From there, as they say, “The rest is history.”
Aric Toler (USA) – Russia vs the world expert
Aric Toler left his work as an intelligence specialist to jump into an adventure called Bellingcat. From his hometown Charlottes his focuses are on verification of Russian media, the conflict in eastern Ukraine, Russian influence in the American/European far right and the ongoing investigation into MH17.
Christiaan Triebert (NL) – the adventurer / social media specialist
The Dutch twenty-six year old Christiaan Triebert won the European Press Prize – Innovation Award 2017 for revealing the online communication between the perpetrators of the Turkish coup.
Timmi Allen (GER) – the visual artist
Berlin based Timmi is a geo-location specialist and graphic designer. While caring for his disabled daughter he started volunteering in the MH17 investigation.
Veli-Pekka Kivimäki (FI) – the military specialist
From his countryside home close to Turku (Finland). Veli-Pekka shares his military knowledge with the rest of the collective. He learned this trade during his mandatory service, when he was a sergeant responsible for the purchase of anti-aircraft firearms.
Hadi Al-Khatib (SY)
Founding member of the The Syrian Archive. He works on security and protection of human right defenders.