Preparation For Phase 1 Project

Datasets: Documenting Hate News Index (Raw Data)FBI Hate Crime Statistics

A hate crime is a criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.

Hate itself is not a crime—and the FBI is mindful of protecting freedom of speech and other civil liberties.

Google News Lab, recently released a tool meant to further that mission: the Hate Crime Index. Created with data viz studio Pitch Interactive, the Index uses machine learning to automatically collect articles that cover racism, bigotry, and abuse.

The project is important because, according to ProPublica’s larger Documenting Hate project, there is no reliable national database of hate crimes. The Index is primarily intended to help journalists, researchers, and civil rights organizations get a broader view on the national situation. There’s a serious lack of data about hate crimes: Although the FBI is required by law to collect hate crime data, local jurisdictions are not required to report incidents to the federal government. As a result, the FBI’s data is patchy, incomplete, and practically useless.

In Rogers’s view, it’s the job of data journalists, like his team at Google News Lab, to fill in those gaps and bring accurate and complete data to people. The Documenting Hate Index leverages machine learning and Google’s trove of search data to surface the first layer of data quickly and easily so that journalists can use it to bring the increase in hate crimes since the election under greater scrutiny.

As Rogers puts it, there are plenty of amazing local reporters who are picking up on hate crime incidents in their region, but those reports never get seen elsewhere. The Index offers journalists the ability to connect isolated incidents to the bigger picture of what’s going on in our country today. “Anything that brings truth and facts and data to this issue is important,” he says.