Committee to Protect Journalists

Rocket Partners Modernizes Data Management Infrastructure for Seamless Sharing and Disseminating Critical Information with Third Parties

The Challenge

The Committee to Protect Journalists is an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide. As part of their advocacy mission, CPJ maintains a global database of journalists who are killed, imprisoned, or go missing in relation to their work.

Understanding that information is their critical asset and the basis of their advocacy, CPJ leadership wanted to find a way to make their 30 years of critical records more accessible to researchers and partner publishers.

CPJ’s data was stored in different flat, unintelligent files and, as a result, it was incredibly time consuming to compile information, often by hand, to support different research and reports or respond to queries from journalists and academics. Between the data collection, editorial review and publishing processes, the same data was sometimes represented two or three times in different files creating work duplication, opportunities for error, and inefficiencies.

Rocket Partners Solution

The first step of the project was to separate the unstructured data on specific journalists out of the legacy Content Management System (CMS) that housed all published articles, then put that data into a maintainable and manipulable format.

The domain of the application was incredibly specific and not easily solved by off-the-shelf solutions. Rocket Partners created a custom database schema and a “Data Manager” web portal backend that allowed CPJ to easily compile, review, and edit articles with extensive specific data fields captured for each type of abuse.

Elana Beiser, Editorial Director, The Committee to Protect Journalists

Rocket Partners got us out of duplicate record-keeping and manual counting and sorting of data. We are now able to centrally manage all of the research at the heart of our advocacy efforts, as well as create and share interactive charts and visualizations seamlessly on social media and with our media partners. The new system will ensure that all of our published information is accurate and up to date.

Elana Beiser
Editorial Director


With a “clean and structured” data set available for the first time, interactive reporting was finally possible.

Rocket Partners also created a visualization workbench where CPJ editors could visually design a chart, specify the data criteria, and publish the charts to their web site, social media sites, and partners’ publishers.

Content didn’t stop at visualizations as Rocket Partners worked with CPJ to securely expose the entire database as a secure REST/JSON API. In addition to powering the visualization engine, the API is now used throughout the CPJ website to make sure that all of the published data and statistics reflect the latest information to readers and partners.

The Results

  • Created a web administration portal for authoring and managing records
  • Securely shared all data via a modern queryable REST/JSON API
  • Developed a data workbench that allowed the creation of interactive data visualizations which are easily shareable around the web and on social media

Tools Used

  • FRONT END: AngularJS
  • BACK END: Java, ECS/Fargate, API Gateway
CPJ data explorer