cross-border journalism

What I’ve been up to recently

In Blog news on May 9, 2023 at 3:50 am

April 2023: The Climate Arena Conference was held for the first time in dear old Prague. 55 journalists from across Europe joined forces for the prototype version of a Dataharvest style working conference – now focusing on climate related topics and bringing scientists and civic techies into the crowd too. See the programme here. Next full conference with about 200 participants will be held in November. City yet to be determined. Follow us on Twitter or subscribe to the Arena newsletter to find out when and where.

March/April 2023: European Collaborative Journalism Project by the Töpfer Foundation supported by Arena had its 4-day kick-off retreat in Siggen by the Baltic Sea. This is a very focused matchmaking seminar where carefully selected journalists join the seminar, embarque on a matchmaking process and end up with a project plan. Previous years cohorts lead to – among others – the Forever Pollution Project or the Money to Burn Project.

February 2023: Massive contamination with the health threatening “forever chemicals” PFAS unveiled today: The Forever Pollution Project publishes its findings across Europe. This investigation was developed for more than a year in a massive cross-border journalism effort. Arena for Journalism in Europe in the autumn of 2022 stepped in to help scale the team from five to 13 countries. Proud and humbled to have been part of this amazing team. Data and data gathering methodology are public, including the methodology of the crossborder collaboration.

November 2022: Retreat with some top-level Danish colleagues from the Cavling Committe, the jury behind the finest Danish journalism award. More than 40 submissions, brilliant examples of Danish journalism in the past year. Material is so good, it’s a painful process to select only a handful nominees – lengthy discussions: tough, interesting, professionally rewarding. Award will be handed out in January 2023.

October 2022: Four days with 72 students in Brussels, they shaped 9 teams to do crossborder investigations over the coming months as part of their journalism education. A major step in crossborder collaborative journalism: This way of working has now come so far that we can develop journalism educations for the next generation. First cohort of crossborder journalism students get a chance to collaborate in a network of three journalism educations from France, Sweden and Germany.

October 2022: Speaking at the Saving Journalism 2 seminar at Columbia University’s SIPA, part of a series of seminars on funding journalism. With practitioners and academics from around the world, initiated and organised by Anya Schiffrin, director of the Technology, Media, and Communications at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

June 2022: Arena’s Cities For Rent investigation into corporate landlords across Europe wins the European Press Prize. The herculean task of coordinating the 25+ journalists team was carried out by Arena’s Jose Miguel Calatayud, data work was done by our Adriana Homolova and the super innovative visualisation back office by Tagesspiegel Berlin’s Hendrik Lehmann. Have a look at the data and the methodology – who are the big landlords in your city?

May 2022: Dataharvest – the European Investigative Journalism Conference 2022 held in the charming town of Mechelen. 550 journalists from all over Europe and beyond. Incredible to think back to the first years in 2009, 2010, when some 20-30 journalists from across the continent met to harvest data about EU subsidies … and now this full-fledged, major conference.

May 2022: Five of our students published their exam project on May 2nd in the morning Philippine time with the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism and with Rappler. The publication went viral immediately. They are taking a closer look at what the Marcos supporters frame as “Golden Age” of the Philippines under Ferdinand Marcos, thus neglecting the suffering under his brutal dictatorship.  The students Wanna Ver, Atmi Pertiwi, Adolfo Canales, Jody Fish and Leonardo Taddei tell the story through Wanna Ver’s own history. Her father, General Fabian Ver, was Marcos’ right-hand man during Martial Law, where he oversaw the military responsible for committing numerous human rights violations. In a Washington Post op-ed, Wanna Ver explains why she had to step out into the public now. The fight about the history of the country is prominent in the present fight about power. This is an exam project at the Master Investigative Journalism at the University of Gothenburg.

April 2022: Arena is only three years old, yet our Cities For Rent team has gotten this wonderful recognition of being nominated for the European Press Prize!

April 2022: Four of my precious students Camille Schyns, Greta Rosén Fondahn, Alina Yanchur and Sarah Pilz are nominated for one of the finest Swedish journalism awards, the Golden Spade for their eminent work on lobbying by BigTech in Brussels on AI injustice and ethics.  They studied at the Master Investigative Journalism in Gothenburg, and I had the pleasure to be their supervisor.

April 2022: Speaking at not less than four panels at the International Journalism Festival in beautiful Perugia. In short from all these panels: We’re now at a level of digital development where we are ready to genuinely focus on new, much more interactive and inclusive ways of doing journalism than we were in the ‘paper ages’ with the one-way communication via newspapers and broadcasts.

March 2022: Reference – the European Independent Media Circle is online! Prepared over some years, launched in November 2021, this is a new group that I’m really proud to have co-founded. The circle brings together the growth layer of innovative journalism outlets. In it, we’ll support each other on the non-editorial tasks, sharing experiences and solving things together across Europe.

February 2022: So happy and proud to see our students at the Master Investigative Journalism in Gothenburg shape their own way over their year of studies. This month with impressive student initiatives inviting external speakers, Sheila Coronel from Columbia University and Harald Schumann from Investigate Europe.

December 2021: Happy and grateful to be mentioned as a mentor for some of the most interesting experiments with innovation of journalism in the field of collaboration and intercultural understanding: Hostwriter and Unbias the News. A companion in the field of crossborder journalism and organisation development, Tabea Grzeszyk and I had and have fabulous talks on how to take the best and merge crossborder collaborative (investigative) journalism with culture studies.

December 2021: Dataharvest has been written into one of the histories of data journalism. Interesting times.

December 2021: Speaking at the European News Media Forum in Brussels on Industrial Innovation.

November 2021: Educating the next generation of journalists is humbling. It’s also enriching – wonderful talks with these young colleagues! And now it’s going to be exciting: We obtained an Erasmus+ grant to develop a genuinely networked journalism education bringing together journalism educations from the University of Gothenburg, Leipzig University, Centre de Formation des Journalists in Paris as well as great academics from the University of Amsterdam and OsloMet. Follow the Crossborder Journalism Campus!

November 2021: Claim and suggestion: The claim is, that collaboration between journalists in different newsrooms is a competence. The suggestion is that collaboration as a competence can be transferred to other fields, where journalists collaborate with non-journalistic groups – be that scientists, public authorities or civil society. Interesting discussion at the SciCAR conference in Dortmund on a panel with probably the longest title I’ve ever spoken about. And realised that translating ‘collaborative journalism’ into German gives a lovely long word: Zusammenarbeitsjournalismus.

November 2021: Some of the graduates from MIJ at University of Gothenburg have started to publish material from their investigative journalism exam projects in June. For example this mini-series of two articles on lobbying ahead of the EU’s AI directive and on the role of Big Tech in EU’s AI ethics group.

October 2021: Out and meeting people again – crucial to set up cross-border collaboration teams and to plan interesting collaborations. Te 2021 cohort of the European Collaborative Journalism Programme by the Alfred-Töpfer-Stiftung went on a retreat by the Baltic Coast. Let’s look forward to interesting stories being prepared!

October 2021: Out and meeting people again – the Data SKUP conference in Oslo by SKUP.

September 2021: Out and meeting people again! In Berlin for various meetings including the 2020-2021 in-person celebration of the European Press Prize, including a meeting with the nominees for the Money To Burn investigation where I had the pleasure to mentor the editorial coordinator during the production. An investigation, that was planned during the 2020 retreat of the European Collaborative Journalism Programme by the Alfred-Töpfer-Stiftung. 

June 2021: The Master Investigative Journalism at the University of Gothenburg offers investigative, data and crossborder journalism. From late August 2020 to June 2021, an international class of 37 students worked hard and did impressive work. For example, they contributed research to this documentary about dodgy adoption practices. Several of them already landed interesting jobs or internships, some of them already published as freelancers in major media. It was a pleasure to work with the MIJ20/21 class, and though I have not met them in person due to covid19-restrictions, I miss them already!

May-June 2021: Dataharvest – the European Investigative Journalism Conference Digital. Over three weeks from mid-May to early June. Very happy to partner with major organisations this year, the European Press Prize and EJTA, the European association of journalism teachers and trainers. Fabulous to work with my precious and super competent colleagues at Arena!

May 2021: Invited to be a member of the advisory board of Re-Check, a Swiss nonprofit organization specialized in investigating and mapping health affairs.

April 2021: An idea has come to live and on April 28th reached a stage to stop and have a look: The idea of building a journalistic network to work with one societally important topic. In 2018, upon the question of an appreciated colleague, I developed the idea to focus on the problem of affordable housing in Europe. To do so, since 2019 Arena worked with the fabulous Jose Miguel Calatayud to develop the Arena Housing Network. We first invited to the Housing Track at the Dataharvest-EIJC in 2019. Jose then developed a variety of useful infrastructure tools for journalists and other experts in the field. And now – along with a team from 15 countries – the first big crossborder investigation was launched: Mapping the power of corporate landlords and how they affect the life of the tenants. The Cities For Rent project published this April builds upon the network that has grown since 2019, it not only brings a wee bit of transparency into this opaque business field, it also shows just how closely connected tenants all over Europe are facing very similar problems caused by the commodification of housing. The Cities For Rent project was mentioned in the podcast by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung about the housing crisis.

March 2021: Next generation is coming! Two new textbook anthologies on investigative journalism published these days. For the English language Investigative Journalism 3rd Edition edited by Paul Lashmar and Hugo de Burgh I contributed a chapter on covering Europe and collaborative journalism. This book provides experience from practitioners describing trends in investigative journalism in the anglosaxon part of the world and beyond. In Danish language, editors Lene Rimestad and Jannie Møller Hartley offer an overview over Investigative Journalism Methods, structured along the work process from idea to publication. This anthology, too, is written by experienced practitions, and I contributed with a chapter on filing FOI requests in Denmark and the EU and with a chapter on cross-border collaborative journalism.

March 2021: The first Arena/Dataharvest pop-up session: The making of Open Lux, featuring Maxime Vaudano, Maxime Ferrer and Jeremie Baruch from Le Monde, who developed this crossborder, data journalism project. Open Lux unveils not only dodgy tax avoidance practices but also the structures allowing them.

March 2021: Why do cross-border journalism? And what are the obstacles? The cross-border journalism community as gathers at Dataharvest – the European Investigative Journalism Conference is becoming the object of acadamic study! Annett Heft from the Free University Berlin has interviewed “journalism pioneers” – Dataharvest participants and others to study cross-border journalism “from below”. In her article in the highly respected academic journal Journalism Studies, she looks at the why, the how, the advantages and disadvantages of cross-border journalism. A summary is available in German prepared by EJO-editor Tina Bettels-Schwabauer.

February 2021: Find myself in excellent company of co-authors with a chapter in the 3rd edition of Hugo de Burgh and Paul Lashmar’s Investigative Journalism text book by Routledge. My chapter is on journalism in and about The European Union and the rise of collaboration.

February 2021: Trying to make the point that reflection about the journalism we do is an integrated part of the work process in the last chapter of the N-Ost Playbook: The Importance of Following Up.

February 2021: Is foreign reporting in Germany  too superficial? That was the question at the annual gathering of the journalists in North-Rhine-Westphalia/Germany. My argument: We’re in an era of massive change, in media and in journalism. There is a major renewal through #crossborder #collaborative #journalism, and rather than trying to adapt reporting about a given country, journalists now collaborate about topics of shared interest – such as tax evasion, for example.

February 2021: Cross-border journalism experience and inspiration is now being handed over to the next generation! I dearly enjoy accompanying precious and promising students at MIJ/University of Gothenburg and a big thank you to Bastian and Frederik Obermay/ier from Süddeutsche Zeitung for presenting their work with the Panama Papers investigation. Bastian and Frederik kindly agreed to an inspiring talk initiated by students themselves! In great collaboration with Ulla Sätereie and the rest of the MIJ-team.

December 2020: So it’s out – the big #moneytoburn collaboration. It’s the sad tale on how the rush towards green energy fuelled a European market for wood pellets to a level that threatens Estonian forrests. I feel a particular veneration for this team of 16 journalists from 8 newsrooms in 8 countries because I was there from the meeting where they first discussed the story idea and composed the team in February – kindly invited by the Töpfer Foundation. Arena provided a digital working environment to the cross-border team and I had the pleasure of being entrusted a mentoring role to the editorial coordinator, the competent Hazel Sheffield. UPDATE January 2021: Now also published in the Guardian and out there on Twitter where Greta Thunberg commented. Thanks to Hazel for crediting my role as mentor – it was a pleasure.

December 2020: Spoke at the national conference for Ukrainian Investigative Journalism #IJC20.

November 2020: Was Dataharvest Digital 2020 the longest investigative journalism conference ever? Definitely feels like it – after 149 sessions spread over 13 weeks! But participants liked it and kept registring until the last month. Also, the team gained loads of experience and is developing exciting new models of meeting and knowledge sharing in the investigative, collaborative, data, entrepreneurial journalism crowd. Do register for the newsletter to be posted.

November 2020: Spoke at a seminar of the EBU Academy on cross-border collaborative journalism. There I also learnt about the internal network to connect EBU members wishing to do collaborative investigative journalism with other EBU broadcasters. So obvious – a great pleasure to see it happen.

October 2020: 37 students from 21 countries – more than ever before – have joined the Master Investigative Journalism at the University of Gothenburg for a year of work on investigative, data and cross-border journalism. I have the pleasure of being on the teacher’s team and what a great crowd of students! We use cross-border collaboration competences proactively in times of hybrid-teaching with about 3/4 of the class on campus and 1/4 online, so they train project coordination and remote team work as they study (and as we all through the corona-time). In this article by Journalism Institute, we’re doing a first status.

September 2020: 1st of September, we started the Dataharvest Digital and participation is extremely encouraging! The coronavirus prevented us from the annual in-person gathering over 3½ days in Mechelen in May. Instead, we chose to spread the 120+ sessions over three months to avoid parallel sessions. A weekly focus on a topic or a research method makes it easier to navigate the programme. Our first rough stats confirm that this works well: the average of participants per session is significantly higher online (with no parallel sessions) than in Mechelen (with competing sessions in the same time slots). Also, the geographic spread of our participants is much wider, which we’re very happy about: We need all of Europe! At the end of September, we have 447 registered participants, close to the target of 450 we set for the entire online experiment. The other day, we even managed to laugh together online – a challenge highlighted by many journalism trainers teaching online this year! Further, we see local initiatives to gather the Dataharvest Community on local level (Berlin in late September, Amsterdam in early October) – and this is the essence of cross-border collaborative journalism: Being well-rooted at home but thinking across borders! Many lessons learnt to supplement the in-person conferences in the future.

August 2020: Preparing for 13 weeks of online gatherings at Dataharvest Digital. This gives interesting opportunities for digital meeting formats – endlessly curious how it will go! Also preparing for a new group of students from all over the world starting at the Master for Investigative Journalism at Gothenburg University.

June 2020: Dataharvest – the European Investigative Journalism Conference goes fully digital for 2020 due to the health situation. Instead of blocking people’s weekends in front of a screen, we spread our sessions over three months from September to November.

May 2020: A fresh review of my book on cross-border collaborative journalism has been published by Swedish scholar Urban Larssen from Södertörn/Sweden at Nordicom Review. He categorises the book among those working on the future of “journalistic authority” by “rethinking journalism beyond the regular newsroom and beyond national and disciplinary borders”. That’s very precise and very encouraging. Nothing against the “regular newsroom” – on the contrary! But we need to think freely and very precisely about how we work with knowledge sharing and critical thinking in our societies in order to strengthen journalism in this era of liquid media.

April 2020: First online-teaching in times of corona: My usual spring-class with the international journalism course at the Thomas More in Mechelen/Belgium. I keep believing in real life as the best way of teaching and working – but we are journalists and we’ll do our best to surmount difficulties.

February 2020: German Alfred-Töpfer-Foundation in its new European Journalism Programme offered a four day seminar for cross-border journalism in a seminar centre near the Baltic Sea. 15 junior and mid-career journalists from all over Europe gathered, because they want to collaborate across borders. And they do that already – I know, because I’m in their shared chat group. They’ll all meet again for Dataharvest – the European Investigative Journalism Conference in May in Mechelen

February 2020: Gothenburg University is one of the renowned journalism schools in Sweden and offers a one-year Master in investigative, data and cross-border journalism. Had the pleasure to introduce the class in a three day course to cross-border collaborative journalism.

February 2020: Greek Incubator for Media and Development, iMEdD in Athens, celebrated its one-year birthday with a 24 hour mini-conference and party. It was a pleasure to be there for several full-house 1-hour workshops on fundraising for journalism and journalism projects – and for the party, of course!

What I’ve been up to in the 2010s

What I’ve been up to in the 2000es

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