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What ICIJ is reading (and watching) this holiday season

Being an investigative journalist isn’t all secret meetings in carparks and hanging out in dark bars in the middle of the night. So how does our team chill out?

Being an investigative journalist isn’t all secret meetings in carparks and hanging out in dark bars in the middle of the night. As ICIJ’s director Gerard Ryle says, a journalist’s inspiration for the next big investigation can sometimes come from the most mundane parts of everyday life.

It was a big year here at ICIJ (Paradise Papers, a Pulitzer and going independent) and for many the holiday season means a much needed break.

So what do developers, data researchers and investigative reporters do in their down time? Practice reading excel sheets, or watching the latest movie about The Washington Post, perhaps…

Instead of leaving you pondering, we thought we’d ask our small (but ambitious!) team what they had planned for holidays.

Caitlin Ginley, ICIJ’s grants manager, in Washington, D.C.

Caitlin has become famous in the D.C. office for her new pup, Izzy (who we’re hoping to adopt as an office dog, just quietly). So she’ll have good company when she sits down to watch some “great” TV – Shameless (U.S. version) and Call the Midwife.

“Shameless is as hilarious as it is dark and depressing, which is pretty tough for a show to pull off. Call the Midwife is my go-to British period drama for the moment.”

“All of this TV watching also gives me an excuse to sit on my couch for a week with a cute pup by my side.”

Who wouldn’t want to watch TV with this cutie?

Pierre Romera, ICIJ’s chief technology officer, in Paris France.

Our tech-guru Pierre is heading to the French mountains for a break (“where the winters are very cold and depopulated”). He plans to read The WindWalkers (Alain Damasio) over his break. He may have only read 100 pages so far… but he speaks pretty highly of the sci-fi novel.

“A long and intense story is exactly what a slow reader like me needs in order to rest peacefully by the fire, watching the snow cover the kitchen garden. I couldn’t dream about a better reward after this crazy year!”

“ “The WindWalkers” (La horde du contrevent in French) is a story about an elite group trying to find the source of an intense wind that reduced the civilization to ashes. After 800 years, they are the 34th horde, trained since childhood, to go on this journey. Sci-fi already has space opera as subgenre where space plays a central role in the dramaturgy.

“The WindWalkers is a wind opera, where the wind shapes the recital like it shaped the world where this story happens. The vocabulary in this book is unique, precise and very poetic. You’ll love this adventure if the sand in Mad Max or Star Wars evokes an intimate feeling, harsh, dirty and unpleasant.”

Hamish Boland-Rudder, ICIJ’s digital editor, in Sydney, Australia

Now Hamish claims this is all about his daughter… but we think maybe he’s just a fan of the Eric Hill “classic” (his words, not ours), Where’s Spot? We think he’s under the wine bottle…

“While impressed by ICIJ’s Paradise Papers investigation, my eight-month-old daughter thinks I need to further hone my investigative skills, and has committed to helping me. We’ll be searching for Spot the dog under the bed, in the piano and under the stairs all through the holidays until I get it right.”

Scilla Alecci, ICIJ’s reporter and Asia coordinator, in Washington, D.C.

Scilla is the brain behind ICIJ’s Paradise Papers video (how do you sum up a year-long investigation in 4 minutes?) content and she’s also a pizza snob… we mean, Italian. She’s headed home this holiday to watch indie movies in “cozy Roman theaters” and jump around!

“I’ll be spending my holidays in Rome, Italy, where, among other things, I plan to catch up with some indie movies from Europe and the Middle East. On my list are: “The Insult,” by Lebanese cinematographer Ziad Doueiri, “The Square,” by Swedish director Ruben Östlund, and “The Teacher” by Czech director Jan Hřebejk.

“And in the event I get bored… I can always practice some recently-learned Parkour moves jumping from an ancient Roman ruin to another.”

Cecile S. Gallego, ICIJ’s data journalist and researcher, in Paris, France.

ICIJ has a few comedians (or want-to-bes!), but it appears our French data journalist Cecile is more serious than most. She’s watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel this holiday season.

“I thought I’d try to figure out how to make it as a female comedian in case this whole journalism thing doesn’t pan out.”

Will Fitzgibbon, ICIJ reporter and Africa coordinator, in Washington, D.C.

Will, like many of our staff, has spent the best part of a year reading legal emails and tax restructuring documents for the Paradise Papers. So in a bid to “restore” his sanity he’s taking a road trip.

“I’ll be heading down South on a road trip to Savannah, Georgia. I’m told the city is lovely. But what excites me most is the large pancakes that I’m bound to find dotted along the way at diners and restaurants.”

Emilia Diaz Struck, ICIJ’s lead researcher, in Washington, D.C.

Emi, as she’s known around our office, is taking a well-deserved break from her spreadsheets. She’s the only ICIJ member that seems to be in the Christmas spirit too… with a bit of festive TV planned.

“A full collection of Christmas Movies. Who doesn’t enjoy watching Christmas movies during Christmas? Combine some good classics and be adventurous watching new ones!”

She’s also going to watch The Crown (despite the Queen being named in our Paradise Papers coverage, I must add). “As the new season is already out, it is time to watch it! This one will cover the fifties. It is an interesting series as it combines the life of Queen Elizabeth with key moments of Global history.

On her reading list? Murder on the Orient Express and El séptimo Rafael.

Miguel Fiandor Gutierrez, ICIJ’s web and data application developer, in Madrid, Spain

Our Madrid-based developer, the mastermind behind our Offshore Leaks Database, is taking a family break this winter! (I’m a bit jealous of all these European adventures..)

“I’ll go skiing and on some mountain walks or hiking with my family,” he told us.

Gerard Ryle, ICIJ’s director, based in Washington, D.C. and Sydney, Australia

If Gerard’s adage about the best investigations coming from our everyday lives is anything to go by, then perhaps ICIJ’s next big story will be a crime thriller… based in Northern Ireland?

On his reading list this holiday season: Adrian McKinty’s In the Morning I’ll Be Gone and Colin Bateman’s The Prisoner of Brenda.

Never one to miss an opportunity, Gerard says ICIJ would happily accept any information on organized crime… in the U.K., Ireland, or anywhere in the world. Get your leaks into us here.

ICIJ is dedicated to ensuring all reports we publish are accurate. If you believe you have found an inaccuracy let us know.