Mapping the Rise of Violence Against Journalists in Afghanistan

    by David Cole
    August 27, 2012

    New reports gathered by [Internews](http://internews.org/) and their on-the-ground partner [Nai](http://nai.org.af) show that 2011 had the most incidents of violence against journalists in Afghanistan yet, with local news and TV networks experiencing the worst of it. Last year there were 72 cases of violence against journalists, with Kabul being the hardest hit.

    ![Graph of incidents over time](http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7108/7853179160_33842effd9.jpg)

    This data is now mapped on an [interactive website](http://data.nai.org.af/), which was first [launched last year](http://mediashift.org/idealab/2011/07/visualizing-10-years-of-violence-against-journalists-in-afghanistan208.html), nominated for a [Data Journalism Award](http://datajournalismawards.org/), and recently updated to include data from 2011 and 2012. The site tracks all types of media violence, from threats to kidnapping to killing, and maps where they occur in the country.

    ![Map screenshot](http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8429/7853179232_2b2560ed74.jpg)

    The maps are all made with [TileMill](http://mapbox.com/tilemill/), the open-source map design studio, which we’ve [written about here before](, and the site itself is built largely on tools put out by MapBox.

    1. Regional trends

    The reports collected by the Internews and Nai team show the emergence of regional trends of violence. For instance, in Hirat province all but two years of reports show police are the most common suspected attacker. In Kabul, violence reports often cluster around specific events, where journalists are beaten or threatened for reporting. Kunar, to the northeast of Kabul, is particularly dangerous for kidnapping — there are nine reported cases of kidnapping, most of which occurred in 2009.

    ![Table of reports from Hirat](http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8434/7853179332_e47c19698f.jpg)

    1. Keeping up with new reports

    To enable faster turnaround of publishing new reports of violence, this update of the website pulls data directly from a Google Doc Spreadsheet, and uses the Google Data API along with the [MapBox JavaScript API](http://mapbox.com/blog/mapbox-javascript-api/) to map updates. All of the charts and tables build dynamically when the web page loads based on data in the Google Spreadsheet. On the backend, the Nai team may enter reports directly into the spreadsheet or use a web form to facilitate data collection.

    Abdul Mujeeb Khalvatgar, executive director of the Afghan Media Advocacy Group at Nai, noted this improvement in efficiency in an email to us: “Collecting and publishing reports in real time is going to help us have a more public conversation about protecting media freedom and will help us resolve the problem in its soonest possible time.”

    More details on the technical implementation of data.nai.org.af will be available soon on the [Development Seed blog](http://developmentseed.org/blog/).


    Dave Cole is a project lead at Development Seed, an R&D shop that specializes in building online maps, data visualizations, and open-source tools. In this role, Dave leads key projects, working closely with the Development Seed team and partners to manage open data and mapping work from the strategy and needs assessment phase through a successful launch. He is highly involved with MapBox, a suite of open-source mapping tools, and works directly with the development team and current users as Development Seed rolls out its first products.

    Dave is a recognized advocate for the use of open source software, particularly in the federal government. Prior to working at Development Seed, he served as a senior advisor to the Chief Information Officer of the Executive Office of the President where he spearheaded successful efforts to contribute open source code developed for WhiteHouse.gov back to the open source community.

    Tagged: afghanistan data visualization mapping maps media open source tilemill violence against journalists

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