Documenting Hate Independent Study


Kellie Shanaghan

“Documenting Hate is a project that began in January of 2017 after an extremely contentious presidential election and a spike in both national hate crimes and bias incidents.  There is no government agency to document lower-level incidents of harassment and intimidation, and there is a current lack of reliable data on hate crimes overall.

The non-profit newsroom, ProPublica, decided to address this issue by using social media and the internet to collect data.  In partnership with news organizations, civil rights groups, technology companies and universities across the country, they are committed to developing a database of hate crimes and bias incidents.

Wake Forest University began involvement in August of 2017.  As a university, we do the work of searching through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to find people who are being victimized online.  Once we discover an incident, we go through an important verification process to determine if the event is true.  Our work then enters a database that is accessed by over 100 different publishing partners such as the New York Times, Buzzfeed News, and Vox.  These professional journalists use the information to cover a growing national problem of hate crimes.

A similar project does not exist anywhere else in the US.  And while students are not writing stories about the incidents they collect, they are learning invaluable skills about how to verify facts to ensure a story’s accuracy.  As journalists, we are responsible for not only presenting facts but presenting the truth about the facts.  Documenting Hate provides students with the opportunity to learn the necessary skills behind the storytelling.”

-Junior Kellie Shanaghan who is leading the project

Check out the program here