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ProPublica and Coalition of News Organizations Launch ‘Documenting Hate’ to Collect Data on Hate Crimes and Bias Incidents in the Most Complete, Sustained Effort to Date

NEW YORK – Jan. 17, 2017 – Data about hate crimes and bias incidents is woefully inadequate. Roughly 20 percent of America’s law enforcement agencies don’t participate in the FBI’s hate crimes reporting program, the nation’s primary tool for tracking these offenses. Many other law enforcement agencies don’t submit accurate data on hate crimes to the bureau. This information vortex has long deprived policy makers, public safety officials, and the general populace of vital facts. Today ProPublica is announcing a new initiative that aims to change that.

Documenting Hate — on the web at — is a coalition of organizations, led by ProPublica, that will create the first national database of reported hate crimes and bias incidents. It will take a rigorous look at these phenomena through data analysis, social media newsgathering, and ambitious investigative storytelling.

So far, the coalition includes:

The coalition will work with journalism schools on authenticating social media reports. The list of participating schools includes:

The coalition is also collaborating around data with civil rights groups such as the Human Rights Campaign, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League.

Documenting Hate will assemble a trove of data provided by law enforcement, community groups, local government agencies, news reports, social media, civil rights groups, as well as directly from victims and witnesses. From there, ProPublica reporters and a volunteer network, including journalism students throughout the country, will authenticate reports and then disseminate them via a secure private website to local media partners and other groups across the country.

This coordinated network is modeled after ProPublica’s pioneering Electionland project, in which news organizations and technology companies collaboratively monitored voting problems during the 2016 election.

“The need for real data has never been more acute,” said Scott Klein, ProPublica Deputy Managing Editor. “Experts who have studied hate for decades tell us they’ve noticed an uptick in hate crimes since the presidential election, and what data there is has confirmed those hunches. But with thousands of police departments failing to report alleged or even confirmed hate crimes to the federal government, we lack foundational information about how many of these crimes occur in any given year, the nature of crimes and bias incidents, and what works to discourage them. The Documenting Hate project seeks to support citizens and lawmakers with reliable data to help understand the problem, and to encourage local reporting to make the problem hard to ignore.”

Documenting Hate is actively seeking more partners:

  • Journalists can sign up to find out more about receiving access to data about hate crimes in their area. Participating journalists will also have access to reporting recipes, tip sheets and community calls on how to report on hate crimes in an efficient, data-driven, and sensitive way.

  • Civil rights groups who collect stories from their communities—or who want to begin doing so—should contact us. We’ll be building tools to help groups solicit reports on their websites. We also plan to make reports available to local groups when we’ve got permission to do so.

ProPublica is an independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest. In 2010, it was the first online news organization to win a Pulitzer Prize. In 2011, ProPublica won its second Pulitzer, the first ever awarded to a body of work that did not appear in print, and in 2016 the newsroom won a third Pulitzer. In 2014, ProPublica won a MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Leadership. ProPublica is supported primarily by philanthropy and offers its articles for republication, both through its website and directly to leading news organizations selected for maximum impact.


CONTACT: Cynthia Gordy, [email protected], 917-703-1242

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