Nino Abdaladze, 22, Georgia
There is a lack of professionalism in the overall media environment in terms of daily and in-depth reporting in Georgia. Journalists often violate ethical standards, spread misleading information, use hate speech and so on. Even though the situation is better than, for instance, five years ago, the problems are still there.

Sonya Aghbalyan, 25, Armenia
Corruption and money laundering are common for any developing country. So, Armenia isn’t an exception. There are a lot of oligarchs in Armenia, many of them possessing offshore businesses and from now and then appearing in the limelight of offshore scandals. Armenian journalists often don’t have the possibility to investigate or run any kind of investigation, because they are easily found and sometimes followed. Though freedom of speech is said to work in Armenia, the reality is that not any kind of information can be published.

Olesia Bida, 22, Ukraine

My own experience shows that investigations are a responsible, long and hard work with registers, financial reports, which require a lot of attention and concentration. Heroes of your investigation not every time want to give comments or, moreover, to help you. They do everything possible to hide their illegal actions. Only experts and lawyers can give you the right way for developing investigations. Journalists should be ready for baseless accusations.

Adrian Blanco Ramos, 25, Spain

Although in Spain computer assisted investigative journalism has been developed, we still have some problems with transparency and data protection limits. It is really hard to take this kind of investigations, unless we have a leak of this data, because the land registry information, as it happens with tax evasion or tax amnesty or financial statements are not public. As a result, in Spain, we do not have access to some sources of data that could be useful for the public use. Anyway, the environment in Spain is favourable to run investigations.

Alexandre Brutelle, 24, France

On a local basis, many jurisdictions suffer from irregularities linked to outside interventions from politics through bribing, threats or stealing; while on a national/European level, the game of corruption through lobbies is at its peak. The limits I could encounter would be in terms of threats from the police, as it has happened to me while in Ukraine and Turkey for instance. I have also received some warnings on my current investigations in Nice.

James Cantwell, 21, UK

Uncovering societal corruption, removing the hidden underpinnings of community, business and realms outside of citizen reach like transnational dealing and politics, the need for investigative journalism has maintained its rightful place at the centrepiece of professional journalism - proven by the panama papers scandal. (…) What is the interesting question is where does investigative journalism go from here? In my country the UK and adopted home-nations Netherland and Denmark, we already see effects of cuts in investigative journalism feeding into a morph towards constructive journalism.

Anna Chaschchyna, 25, Ukraine

Investigative Journalism is, in my opinion, the most challenging kind of journalism. It's sort of exciting detective Columbo-style work, connecting both ends of one rope. To me, the greatest limitation of it is personal security and safety, as when stepping into unknown and maybe risky territory, protecting yourself might be crucial. The biggest possibility is to step up in favor of people, where police, authorities, banks and institutions are impotent, the volatile word of journalist can make the issue famous and change the course of the story for better.

Sara Cincurova, 26, Slovakia

I personally believe that investigative journalism is particularly important in the arena of human rights and social justice. These issues are not only very often in the centre of political agendas, but they also frequently represent taboo issues among the general population (for example sexual violence, homelessness, violence on children and men, prisoners, etc., just to name a few). In Slovakia, there are several issues surrounding social justice that in my opinion need more media coverage and investigation. One of them is human trafficking.

Irene Doda, 22, Italy

Italy doesn’t have a well-established tradition in investigative journalism. It has always found little space in mainstream media. Investigative reporters can face hard challenges in the country. The issues of mafia business and political corruption are frequently strongly tied to one another: the challenge of Italian investigative reporting is to expose these topics, make them part of the public debate and create the conditions for further judiciary actions. The rise of web technologies and the growth of Internet as a source of information have definitely changed the way of doing investigative report. Independent journalists have, through the web, the chance to get in touch with potential sources (whistle-blowers) in a secure way, thanks to encryption technologies.

Tatiana Dvornikova, 25, Russia

On the 13th of May 2016, three chief-editors of the most influential and ambitious media outlet RBC left the office — it was the last day of working in strong professional community - as many journalists wrote about it few hours later in Twitter and Facebook. In the last 5 years Russia lost about 12 independent professional media teams from editorial offices such as Forbes,, and other business online magazines. (…)
Working on investigative topics (…) I find a lot of difficulties and barriers. For example, like a freelancer I have no protection against physical threats or violence. Secondly, I see that many media refuse to take sharp and conflicting themes, they afraid of pressure of the authorities or the owner. In the third place, society has developed very high degree of apathy and distrust for the independent media - government channels weaned people to think critically. The next point is that the whole work of a journalist is not very well payed, and to earn money you need to write very fast and a lot. This affects the quality of the material. Also, the Russian society and journalism in general do not have any information culture and the ability to work with data. All the information that relates directly to official corruption and the income of country leaders is hidden as much as possible. All these factors do not lead to good investigations. Very few journalists are willing to engage in such work.

Oleksandre Guzenko, 22, Ukraine

There are still numerous instances of corruption, backdoor deals, lack of prosecution and law enforcement, numerous limitations for a journalists’ work and certain lack of press freedom. But for many in the field of journalism, these issues are not barriers, but are mountains to be conquered. In the current state of Ukraine’s internal affairs, it seems like investigative journalism is the key motive force that pushes our country forward, towards sustainable democracy, transparent governance and prevailing rule of law.

Jan Indra, 24, Czech Republic

I used the Panama Papers case as an example to illustrate two limitations I think investigative journalism is facing in our country. The first one is the lack of resources. The media outlets are reluctant to provide journalists with the freedom to work on cases for a long period of time, simply because it is not profitable. The idea of journalism being done mainly for profit still dominates most media content we come across. In that regard, I would dare say Czech media are not any different from other media in the rest of the world. (…)
The second limitation concerns the aspect of co-operation in investigative journalism. Although our goal (as investigative journalists) is the same, i.e. to expose corruption and organized crime, journalists from different media struggle to work together. (…) But the level of co-operation that seems to be more troubling is the international one. (..) And while the organized crime networks operate across the borders without hesitation, the journalism community in the Czech Republic fails to keep up with them.

Anastasiia Ivantsova, 26, Ukraine

In Ukraine, we have quite a good law on access to public information; it requires government agencies to provide documents regarding budget spending and information significant to public interest within five working days. But the law is rarely followed. For example, government agencies response can take a month, instead of a week, you can be given incomplete information or be left with no answer at all. In such cases we could sue the agencies, which hold back the information, but it takes a lot of precious time that could be spend on other investigations.

Yanina Korniienko, 20, Ukraine

Over the past two years investigative journalism became very fashionable in Ukraine: many politicians are speculating on this topic, threatening their competitors to sink information through to journalists, and many journalists are shifting to be investigators. However, the tendency to expose the crimes is not a panacea for the Ukrainian society. A beautiful picture and a loud status altogether hide a number of difficulties and problems faced by the journalists, after which many of them drop out of this kind of work and return to the news feeds.

Oleksii Kovalenko, 23, Ukraine

In 2015 and 2016 the most of the investigations were about corruption in the Ukrainian government. Ukrainian investigative journalists together with activists and with the support of some deputies have opened the state registers. This makes new investigative journalism more conclusive, accurate and substantiated, making it possible to investigate the facts more completely and to reflect the reality comprehensively.

Ditte Offersen Lynge, 23, Denmark

It is through investigating journalism that media and press have the ability to keep an eye on the leaders in power and to see if laws are obeyed. As late as today the Danish daily newspaper Berlingske revealed that high profiled politicians, including the Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen and several ministers have lied directly in interviews about a debated agricultural law.
In Denmark we have a law called Information Act. The law is made to more or less serve the press and the public, but a few years ago a new change to benefit the politicians was made. Both professors and journalists called it ‘a democratic setback’ and ‘an alarming reduction of the press’s opportunities to control the power of state’. When Berlingske sought access to documents involving the debated law, the papers were giving to them with several crossings-outs. Through their network the papers without any deletions were sent and black on white it stated that the politicians had lied several times intentionally. It required persistence, curiosity and indignation from the investigating journalists and that is both impressive and necessary.

Ekaterine Maghaldadze, 25, Georgia

Financial un-sustainability, small auditorium and lack of multimedia components in investigative reports seem for me to be the most important challenges now for Georgian investigative journalism.

Aynur Nabili, 23, Azerbaidjan
Especially in countries like Azerbaijan work as a journalist proves to be very difficult sometimes. Mostly we cannot find open sources about topics we work on. For example, if you work on corruption facts about one state-owned enterprise, you will not find an interviewee that confirms your facts because people are afraid of losing their workplace or that someone can hurt their family members.

Andrey Ovchinnikov, 24, Russia

We have to admit that in Russia a journalist, who’s trying to collect serious facts and publish them, has to face two main rivals. And generally they are beyond his strength: The first rival is bureaucracy, corruption, criminal elements. In Russia unfortunately we got acquainted with them via murder of such key persons like Anna Politkovskaya (special correspondent of “Novaya Gazeta” in Chechya), Boris Nemtsov (prepared the documents which discredit the Duma members), Alexandr Litvinenko (ex-member of KGB, he wrote several investigation books). The second rival is more difficult for the journalist in Russia as it was developed for centuries. It’s about civil indifference. Unfortunately as the statistics shows more Russians sees lawlessness but they don’t see the means to solve it. Actually it still shocks.

Elena Ostanina, 26, Ukraine, from Russia

Even being on their way to euro integration and struggling against lots of problems as a developing country, Ukraine – a country where I work for the last year, after having moved from Russia – still has problems with one of the main sectors for any democratic country – a free unbiased journalism. The obvious lack of good professionals and of a good basis for the development of investigative journalism in the country‘s anamnesis frequently turns local mass media from news to advertisement.

Zulfiyya Safkhanova, 23, Azerbaijan

If you pay attention to detail and think about facts, you begin to notice the problems that are in need of study. The kind of problems with which we should start to become worthy journalists. Being such journalists is difficult, even dangerous.
Elmar Huseynov, for example, was the founder and editor of the oppositional news magazine Monitor. Huseynov was shot several times on the night of March 2 in his Baku apartment building. Huseynov's family said the editor had received threats prior to his murder and was concerned about his safety. His colleagues believe that the murder is related to his work at Monitor. Under Huseynov's leadership, the weekly faced several defamation lawsuits after criticizing government officials.
Or take Khadija Ismail, the Azerbaijani investigative journalist. On 1 September 2015, Ismayilova was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison under charges of embezzlement and tax evasion. However, the Azerbaijani supreme court ordered Ismayilova to be released on probation on 25 May 2016, but she is now under house arrest.

Christina Soloyan, 19, Armenia

In a country like Armenia, where the rate of corruption is high and all the political decisions are made behind a curtain, investigative journalism is critically important. The political culture of Armenia is far from being democratic. More than a half of the media is private and financed by the governing party.

Gerszon Szántó, 22, Hungary

In the Western media Hungary usually appears because of the radical steps and policies of our prime minister, Viktor Orbán, or in connection to corruption. The latter is the result of the great number of corruption-related cases, which take place in the country. In addition, big ratio of them is associated with the government or at least some politicians are involved. Without a doubt, Hungary desperately requires the work of investigative journalist in order to make this grey zone more transparent. Since majority of the media channels are influenced by the government or people who are linked to the leading politicians of the government, it is a truly demanding task to bring these stories to the citizens. Also, the work of those journalists and activists, who fights for transparency, is being held back by legal actions of different authorities. Generally speaking, investigative journalism is really not supported in the country.

Martin Turček, 26, Slovakia

1. The easiest way for the investigative journalist to help, is to save money that is going in the wrong direction; to inform about shady or illegal practices in dealing with public resources and initiate a public resistance that leads to change of the improper conduct. That is exactly what happened in the case brought by TV JOJ when a shell company with unclear ownership was about to receive a 6 million euro subsidy for an overpriced waste management project from European funds. After publicizing the information, the company itself withdrew its project.
2. Making our lives better in ways beyond just counting money. A very good example of this type of life-improving journalism is the work on the case of toxic landfill as large as 12 football fields, that was about to be placed in a Slovak city of Pezinok, near capital of Bratislava. Authorities broke the law several times in the process of permitting the landfill. It took unbelievable 14 years of investigative work, public activism and court battles to prove the landfill to be illegal.

Lena Würgler, 26, Switzerland

In Switzerland, the main problem, in my opinion, is that it is quite hard to have access to the necessary documents. Even if there is a transparency law, the state isn’t giving the information it should make available to the public, according to the law. For instance, our investigative unit was asking the state to give the name of the 40 companies that received the biggest contract given by the state during the last years, and the amount of those contracts. But the state refused and the journalists had to go before the federal court, the highest instance of Switzerland, to be able to receive the documentation. It took more than 3 years to get them.


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