Interrogating Transnational Collaborations in Investigative Journalism

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Collaboration is a practice that investigative journalists have been praising and encouraging in recent times (GIJN, 2016; ICIJ, 2017). The surge of collaborations has been ascribed to access to new technology, which is said to produce new volumes of data for analysis with the possibility of connecting reporters all over the world sharing information in real time (Sambrook et al, 2018; Carson, 2018). In this way, it is claimed, collaboration enhances the power of the press and benefits from a connected intelligence through the internet (CIJ, 2020). Examples of transnational collaboration in digital times are exposés like the Panama Papers, Paradise Papers, Swiss Leaks, and most recently FinCen (ICIJ, 2020). All of them coordinated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalism (ICIJ). There are more regional examples of these types of collaboration at the continental level, for instance Project Daphne (which is a conglomerate of investigative journalists investigating the death of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, and the stories that she left unfinished); or the Red Latinoamericana de Periodismo de Investigación Estructurado (a group of investigative teams in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and Peru, with the aim of sharing information on the Odebrecht scandal, which saw the involvement of prominent politicians in Latin America) (Gorriti, 2017).

However, behind these stories of transnational collaboration there are other factors that remain hidden. Crucially, the ideas of what journalism is and how it can be sustainable are brought into sharp relief (Huerta, 2020). The idea of collaboration challenges previously given assumptions of competitiveness, in part, because the digital age has seen the collapse of a widely adopted business model for journalism based in hyper commercialisation (Pickard, 2019). The shift away from previously sacred practices in journalistic cultures (e.g. exclusive scoops, fast production of news products, the praise of heroic individuals risking their lives to inform the public, and so on) (Ettema & Glasser, 1984; Schudson, 2008), exists alongside the increasing concentration of media power and the hegemony of centres of knowledge that pushes back against the surge of more local and community based reporting (De Sousa Santos; Carson, 2018).

This panel aims at questioning this shift in practice in investigative journalism and its implications for democracies around the globe, media organisations, practitioners, and the public. What is at stake when investigative journalists embark on transnational collaborations? What and who are driving collaboration? What stories are subjected to collaboration? Who can collaborate? How does transnational collaboration impact on local journalism?


-Vanessa Higgins: Vanessa de Macedo Higgins Joyce is an Associate Professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Texas State University and a Research Fellow at the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin.

-Gabriela Manuli: Gabriela Manuli is the Deputy Director of the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN), an association of more than 200 non-profit organizations in 80 countries. A native of Argentina, she has been a journalist for more than 15 years and has extensive international experience in Latin America, Europe and the United States.

-Rodrigo Arteaga: PhD candidate in sociology at the University of Cambridge researching collaboration and cooperation in contemporary journalism in Mexico.

Chair: Irving Huerta (Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Global Media and Democracy at Goldsmiths, University of London)


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