Investigative reporting as an interactive exercise

We all know investigative reporting is different from everyday journalism and it’s not easy to teach. Wouldn’t you love to have an interactive experience that shows what it’s really like? How about an interactive that also makes a bigger point about the consequences of being careless on the internet? Thanks to Al Jazeera, you can have both.

#Hacked – Syria’s Electronic Armies is an online journalism game that’s optimized for mobile and based on real life experiences.

“You are an investigative journalist who has to find as much reliable information as possible in the shortest amount of time,” says senior producer Juliana Ruhfus. “You have to make sure your communication is secure and that you take precautions so you do not get hacked yourself.”

Ruhfus has created interactive journalism games before and believes they’re a good way to share hard-hitting journalism with new audiences.

I think investigative journalism really lends itself to gamification because doing an investigation is like trying to solve a puzzle. We investigative journalists want to know how certain things work and how they are connected, and making that experience into a gamified investigation works very well.

Users can choose to create an account so they can save their progress, or play the game anonymously. Players discover data, interview key actors and access social media feeds during the course of the investigation.

The game can take hours so it’s not a one-class activity. But it could be an assignment, with students comparing notes along the way or sharing final results and what they learned from the experience. Definitely worth a look.