What’s it like to work on an investigation for 12 months or more? What does it take to pull together hundreds of journalists to all collaborate on the same story? How does the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists use donations to power its groundbreaking reporting?
In a recent survey, ICIJ’s readers and supporters told us they want to know more about how we work, and how their generosity helps us tell stories that change the world. Our team is our biggest asset at ICIJ, so we’re taking you behind the scenes of their day-to-day to find out what exactly goes into huge investigations like the Panama Papers, FinCEN Files and more.
Meet team member Jelena Cosic
Title: ICIJ Training Manager and Eastern Europe Coordinator
Key team stat: Three to four hours. The average amount of time spent providing training to each individual reporter collaborating on ICIJ’s investigations. ICIJ typically works with hundreds of reporters at a time.
What are your core duties for ICIJ?
We wear several hats. One major hat that I’m wearing is I work as the training manager at ICIJ. As training manager, I talk with partners almost every day. I provide training for our projects with ICIJ platforms. We often work with hundreds of partners on each investigation.
Can you give as an insight into your day-to-day work?
I have video calls with partners and try to train them with anything they need. Usually, one meeting lasts one hour. I try to provide them everything they’ll need to investigate and do their research. No matter if they’re top-notch well-resourced data veterans or completely unfamiliar with any type of technology. I’m in constant touch with partners trying to see if there’s anything that they need help with. Usually, it takes two to three sessions per partner to get them fully on board with our platforms and our data.
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What’s one of the more unique aspects of the work you do with ICIJ, that people might not know about?
There is more than one unique aspect of my work. I work across all time zones and with some of the best investigative journalists in the world, and the whole process is done in a creative, supporting and friendly atmosphere, where everyone is helping each other. It is simply inspiring to be able to see how the process develops with partners and see how they produce top investigative pieces from the data we provide.
For most of our projects we convene massive global team meetings, where almost all partners from all over the world come together to collaborate in real time. It can be overwhelming both for the ICIJ team, and for the partners. We try to prepare all details of the project in advance, including data information, further develop platforms and set teams for each new project. This planning and preparation takes weeks. During the meetings we present all of these and make sure every partner’s voice is heard and represented. Meetings like this are unique in the journalism world and it is truly a privilege and opportunity to be a part of it.
What was it about ICIJ that first attracted you to this job?
ICIJ is probably one of the most unique organizations in the world when it comes to investigative reporting. As someone who has been involved in investigations for over 10 years, being here was a dream come true because I’d only heard good things about the people working here and I’d seen a number of professional articles and investigations coming from here.
What are some goals you hope to achieve with ICIJ?
When it comes to goals, I want to develop more skills. As training manager, I’m trying to set up models so that training can continue happening and that anyone can easily follow. In our data team as well, I’m constantly learning. I want to be more in tune, meaning not only being someone who works with partners but being able to anticipate what partners need and being able to provide that.