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Why we collaborate: Expertise, trust and passion

Collaboration makes our stories better. Working with local reporters means we benefit from their expertise, their trusted sources and their passion — and we give ours in return.

Collaboration makes our stories so much better. Working together with local reporters means we benefit from their expertise, their trusted sources and their passion — and we give ours in return.

In our final press freedom series, we talk with our partners about the power of collaboration. We bring together reporters from across the globe to cover important world issues – offshore secrecy, healthcare emergencies, and human rights abuses. Collaboration protects our partners and increases the reach and impact of our findings.

This is also a critically important time for you to collaborate with us. We want to grow our ICIJ Insiders community, so we can keep holding the powerful and criminal to account. We want to keep working with all our colleagues, from Panama to Poland and the Philippines.

It’s always humbling and inspiring to work with reporters from around the world. We all face our own challenges but share the same mission: fight and expose injustice.

How does working with reporters in other countries, or continents, help protect you, your reporting and your sources?

Karol Ilagan (Philippines)

Corruption, crimes, and various forms of injustices continue to happen in plain sight in many countries, within borders and across borders. Our network can provide support for journalists who may not be able to freely do the kind of reporting needed in their own countries. By sharing information, skills, technology, and platform, we can empower each other. Global investigations can put the spotlight on illegal and illicit activities done at the very local level, compelling key actors to act or put pressure on those who must be held accountable. Powerful criminals may feel comfortable inside their borders, but not so much when they know that the world is watching. We can do this one collaboration after another.

Anderson Diedri (Côte d’Ivoire)

Given difficulties accessing official information and the lack of resources, collaborating with journalists from other countries or continents is an excellent way to work. Sharing information through collaboration allows us to pool resources and sources that help us access information. One local topic can have global implications, especially when it comes to corruption, money laundering and tax evasion. It’s an excellent opportunity to increase our security while working on investigations with training and expert advice, especially when we work on ICIJ projects. This can help make sure we publish high-quality investigations that can be republished in other countries, which helps give those stories a greater impact.

Anuška Delić (Slovenia)

My professional network has always been one of my most efficient “secret weapons” but today it is becoming even more crucial. These days, quick access to verified and verifiable information from a trusted colleague anywhere in the world can hugely impact the quality of COVID-19 reporting because it can often be the key to unveiling ongoing wrongdoing in the public sector. The importance of the public sector has literally grown over night in practically every country on the planet while procuring protection for citizens of these countries has become an intra-governmental bazaar where key safeguards of principles of public spending, like transparency, economy and accountability, are thrown out of the window.

Aidila Razak, Malaysia

For reporting in general, there have been hits and misses. I find it is very useful if there is a clear objective and timeline, and clear direction of the story.

Sometimes collaborations fall through because the story ends up more relevant for one country than the other, for example. ‘Fishing expeditions’ where we don’t know what the story is yet also doesn’t quite work very well, in my experience.

So far I have not had the experience of having to pass a story to a colleague overseas to publish due to security reasons.

Marcos García Rey (Spain)

In general terms, and not only at the moment, cross-border collaboration is always positive for covering any journalistic topic. For what reasons? Because it offers greater legitimacy and credibility to your reporting, it helps to overcome censorship in your own media outlet because the investigation will be published in other media anyway, and because sensitive human sources note a more seriousness when the work is done in an international way.

Simon Mkina (Tanzania)

Writing in collaboration with other cross-border journalists has given me more confidence and energy to hold our governments accountable. Doing collaborative journalism takes away all fears in doing some big investigative stories.

Simon Mkina, Alejandra Xanic and Marcela Turati.

Alejandra Xanic and Marcela Turati (Mexico)

It is very important. Thanks to what was shared before [about the novel coronavirus] by journalists from Italy and Spain, first, and now by journalists from the United States, we were able to learn from their experiences and anticipate some things we would need to face, and we were able to know about their security protocols they are currently using: what works and what doesn’t.

The tips they share in the webinars are valuable to us, because they help us learn more about different perspectives and prepare ourselves more and better, as we are now collaborating with other independent media in Latinamerica. We are learning through them, which questions and topics we can anticipate, what is the possible evolution and how we can better do the reporting.

Stefan Melichar, Austria

An international cooperation can work like a shield for the individual reporters involved. Subjects of unfavorable reporting might try to threaten or pressure a single journalist. There is no way one could even think about stopping 200 journalists in 50 different countries.

Mary Triny Zea (Panama)

As part of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, we had the opportunity to collaborate with #BriveryDivision, and with the support of other colleagues from the region, we were able to cross-reference information and obtain new information in regards to the companies that Odebrechet used to pay bribes in the department of structured operations. We were also able to obtain data and elements that reconfirmed that Odebrecht didn’t tell everything.

Work as a team provides strength and precision to the stories, for example, while searching for different versions of the stories in different parts of the world and finding behavior patterns. In the Panamanian case there were companies that according to the documents provided similar services to different companies, but when we asked authorities, we found out that such a thing didn’t exist. These conclusions are impossible to achieve without the collaboration between colleagues from other countries.

Arturo Torres (Ecuador)

I believe that a global investigation from ICIJ will be very helpful to improve press freedom, aiding to show this phenomenon from a worldwide and unbiased perspective.

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