Algorithms are increasingly making decisions in society, and that was the topical focus of Dataharvest 2018. In cooperation with the German NGO Algorithmwatch, the Dataharvest team drafted a focused track about journalism covering the field. The track offered seven sessions addressing automated decision making and how to research it.
After the conference, Algorithmwatch asked Arena director Brigitte Alfter to gather and coordinate the first team of journalists and academics who, over the autumn of 2018, prepared the stocktaking report ”Automating Society”, launched in January 2019.
The purpose of preparing the report in a team effort rather than by one expert was twofold: To produce a genuinely European report, and by doing so to develop a European team of dedicated journalists knowing each other so well they would consider working on these topics in the future.
By 2020, Algorithmwatch is running the network and its own team coordinator and journalist are preparing a 2nd European report as well as ongoing journalistic coverage – with a European angle.
Mathias Spielkamp, director of Algorithmwatch:
“Dataharvest (…) is not just the place where we curated and ran our first Algorithmic Accountability Reporting track, convening journalists from around the globe. It’s also where Arena and AlgorithmWatch launched the Algorithmic Accountability Reporting and Research network that provided the basis for the Automating Society reports, combining the knowledge of experts from 20 European countries. That’s the great value Arena and Dataharvest bring to journalism – the expertise and continuity of network-building that is the basis for effective and sustainable collaboration.”