Pedro Coelho to participate in the Prague Media Point

NOVA FCSH lecturer and ICNOVA researcher Pedro Coelho will give a co-authored talk at the Prague Media Point – Conference for journalists, media professionals, and scholars December 5-7, 2019 and that will take place in Prague, Czech Republic.

INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM Collaborative journalism: sharing information, sharing risk

Abstract: High-quality journalism remains unharmed by the effects of the current crisis in journalism. It stands out above the myriad of voices that assault the media space, either false, guided by obscure interests, or incomplete, because they are lack journalistic investigation. This latter type of journalism has not only emerged “in a world that often feels more angry and more partisan” (Newman et al, 2018: 31) but it has also contributed decisively to the crisis of confidence that has barraged the media system and journalism in particular. There are clear signs that it is only through quality journalism that trust is regained. (Newman, 2017: 9-10; Newman et al, 2017: 26; Newman et al2018: 31). This work details the role of collaborative journalism during this process of rebuilding journalism at its core, in order to guarantee an everlasting investment in its quality. This path starts with the analysis of the “Daphne Project”, the first project of the consortium “Forbidden Stories”, the international platform created by Laurent Richard that maintains alive the stories of journalists who have been killed, imprisoned or, for some reason, were unable to pursue their investigations.

While evaluating the consequences of pursuing the stories of the Maltese journalist murdered on 16 October 2017, we interview both her son, Mathew Caruana Galizia, and Laurent Richard, the founder of the Consortium, and Emilia Sercan a Romanian journalist. At Daphne, Emilia investigates by herself matters that implicate the government, and she received death threats in April 2019. We also remember the circumstances of the death of Anna Politkovskaya, another case with clear similarities to Daphne Caruana Galizia’s.

Journalistic consortiums and collaborative journalism have a decisive role in investigative journalism, which is by nature a lonely job requiring journalists’ “willingness to dig” (Anderson and Benjaminson, 1976: 4). Investigative journalists such as Politkovskaya, Galizia and Sercan personify the non-acceptance of both “the secrecy and refusal of the officials to give the information” (Randall, 1996, 2016: 128). Such journalism “holds the powerful to account” (Starkman, 2014: 9), exposing itself to risk without any protective shield.

Not only does collaborative journalism protect journalists, thereby enabling investigations like the Panama Papers where 2,6 terabytes of information which were not yet filtered (Brinlee, 2016) mobilized 376 journalists from one hundred media partners belonging to 80 countries[1], but it also promotes cross-border collaboration and boosts the “sharing the risk across a wide range of international players” (Sambrook, 2018:4).

The murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, the 14th journalist killed out of a total of 55 journalists murdered between 2017 and 2019, has globalized the risk for investigative journalists. If the absolute exposure of lonely investigative journalists turns them into a target in nations where freedom of expression is threatened, the murder of this Maltese journalist, and the assassination of Slovakian Jan Kuciak four months later, and that of Bulgarian Viktoria Marinova in October 2018, firmly set an unlikely Europeon on the map of risk. In the words of Bastian Obermayer, the Süddeutsche Zeitung journalist who received the information that led to the “Panama Papers” from an unnamed source, reacting to the deaths of his European colleagues, “This is a traumatic change in my life and how I see the world of journalism” (apud Coronel, 2018).

Without losing sight of the problems caused by international consortiums of journalists, this research highlights, above all, how these partnerships, anchored as they are in “radical sharing” (Guevara, 2016) have contributed to enhancing investigative journalism.

Keywords: Collaborative Journalism; Investigative Journalism; Sharing the Risk; Daphne Project; Forbidden Stories