Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) uses Dataminr across 27 countries to tell stories that would otherwise be left untold.
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) is a public service media organization that provides independent news in places where a free press is banned by the government or not yet fully established. It operates in 23 countries in 27 languages, reaching 40 million people every week.
As Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine began, RFE/RL needed a way to stay abreast of events as they developed—both on the ground and on social media—while safeguarding journalists reporting on the frontlines. That’s when RFE/RL turned to Dataminr for help.
We sat down with RFE/RL staff to learn how the organization’s expansive network of journalists and contributors use Dataminr and its real-time alerting solution, Dataminr for News.
Immediately following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, there were concerns that Russian forces would enter Moldova next.
When a bridge exploded at the Ukraine-Moldova border, Dataminr quickly alerted RFE/RL, allowing its journalists to be the first to report the news. The early warning gave RFE/RL a head start to fully verify and report on what had occurred. In a region with a polarized media landscape and widespread disinformation, this timeliness was particularly important and beneficial for both public safety and trust.
“Dataminr really gives us a leg-up in rapidly developing breaking news situations,” said Patrick Boehler, RFE/RL’s Acting Head of Innovation and Audience Engagement. “We are often increasingly forced to report undercover in wartime areas, or entirely remotely, which can cause delays without a resource like Dataminr for News.”
RFE/RL reporters receive real-time alerts—sometimes within seconds or minutes of an occurrence—from Dataminr’s more than 500,000 public information sources, including social media, IoT sensor data, audio transmissions, the deep and dark web, and more. By having access to this vast and diverse pool of information, RFE/RL journalists are able to optimize their workflow and efficiently allocate resources.
“We see Dataminr [for News] as an incredible resource,” said Maja Zivanovic, Belgrade Bureau Chief for RFE/RL’s Balkan Service. “It gives us more time to focus on investigations or to follow up on stories because it can be our eyes and ears. We are updated in real time, which gives us the speed and accuracy in reporting that we are looking for to deliver trusted, independent news to our audiences.”
For example, Dataminr for News alerts helped journalists in Serbia report on an increasing number of cyber attacks that took place across the Balkans.
“We were floored to see that Dataminr managed to pick up information hiding in the dark web. When we were alerted by Dataminr that hackers uploaded information from Albania, we were able to piece the puzzle together that there was an Iranian-sponsored cyber attack happening in real time,” Zivanovic explained.
Reporting on cross-border developments is part of RFE/RL’s mission. So when Dataminr alerted local bureaus about a South Korean fugitive being held hostage in Serbia, Zivanovic and teams suddenly had access to extremely valuable information that allowed them to keep audiences across RFE/RL’s markets informed.
“We never would have found out about the fugitive if we didn’t have Dataminr,” said Zivanovic. “Not only was that information impactful for our readers in multiple regions, it also provided a peace of mind that the right information will get to the right people, no matter where they are in the world.”
In less than a year since RFE/RL journalists started using Dataminr for News, the real-time alerting solution has proven to be a critical tool that allows the organization to carry out its mission: to provide accurate, uncensored news in countries with restricted or emerging press freedom.
See why newsrooms worldwide rely on Dataminr for News.