NVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM – PURPOSES, TECHNIQUES, AND SPECIFIC CHALLENGES

Already for the 12th time M100 Young European Journalists Workshop (M100YEJ) has invited young journalists between 18 and 26 to Potsdam for an intensive workshop.

One group, financed by the Federal Foreign Ministry, comprised 15 participants from the Eastern Partnership Countries Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia.

The second group, financed by the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, consisted of 10 young journalists from other European countries like Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Hungary, Spain, Slovakia, and Switzerland.
In addition one trainee from the Potsdam newspaper "Märkische Allgemeine Zeitung" and one from the Berlin based newspaper "Der Tagesspiegel" took part at the workshop.

Within five days these 27 journalists have learned the purposes, tools, methods and specific challenges of investigative Journalism – likely the most challenging form of journalism.

Investigative journalism is the most challenging form of journalism. It forms a major part of the so-called “fourth Estate” function that the media play in democratic societies – i.e. as a monitor of political bodies and companies. This kind of journalism involves a high level of professionalism, perseverance, precise research, comprehensive background knowledge, solid contacts, and the knowledge how to research and verify in social networks like twitter and Facebook.

Therefore, the M100 YEJ has worked in collaboration with organisations like the OCCRP and the ICIJ on subjects which range from understanding how organised crime works and tracking illegal cash flows. Daniel Drepper from the German investigative journalism collective Correct!v introduced them in the techniques of investigative reporting, and Albrecht Ude from Netzwerk Recherche teached them how to research the surface web and dark web. They have also received important security advice on how to protect themselves and their sources.

To fully understand the importance of journalism as the so called “fourth-State” function in democratic countries, the five day workshop included a visit at the Federal Press Conference where Dr Henrik Schott, president of the Association of European Journalists (VEJ), explained the principles of journalistic work in Germany as well as the protection and ensuring of the freedom of the press.


THE WORKSHOP

The journalists arrived on Friday, September 9, to Potsdam and were welcomed by the M100 team on behalf of Sabine Sasse and Isabel Gahren to a colloquial BBQ where they met their fellow journalists for the first time in person. Before they have meet already in a closed Facebook group to get in touch with each other, share experiences and ideas, ask questions and make proposals.


Saturday, September 10

MIZ, Potsdam Babelsberg

In the morning, after organizational topics were discussed, the participants introduced themselves to each other and presented examples of their work as aspiring investigative journalists. Consecutively, Letizia Gambini from collaboration partner Sourcefabric explained Sourcefabric’s Live Blog, a tool that the participants not only used to report live from the workshop but as well for covering the M100 Sanssouci Colloquium. (You can find the Live Blog of M100 Sanssouci Colloquium here and for the M100YEJ workshop here).

The long-term cooperation partner European Youth Press has sent a colleague who reported every day from the workshop in the online magazine “orangemagazine.eu
All videos and articels can be found on Orange Magazine’s website.


Daniel Drepper, Corrdect!v: “How to be an investigative journalist – from research to topics, from sources to implementation”

In the afternoon, Daniel Drepper, senior reporter of the German investigative collective Correct!v, opened the M100YEJ workshop at the MIZ – Media Innovation Center in Potsdam-Babelsberg. During his workshop he shared his professional experience with the young media professionals and gave an overall, yet comprehensive introduction to investigative journalism and provided handful tips how to identify a good investigation topic. The workshop was intense and full of novel information, the session fostered an active exchange; the young curious investigators asked a lot of questions but also shared their experiences, gave each other advices on useful tools, links and speaking out about common problems and obstacles for investigative journalists from Europe.

Please find the Live Blog about the first day here.


Sunday, September 11
MIZ, Potsdam-Babelsberg

Albrecht Ude, Netzwerk Recherche, Online research and Internet security for investigative Journalists

The second day of M100YEJ workshop was conducted by Albrecht Ude, a freelance journalist, researcher and member of the German investigative network Netzwerk Recherche. The topic of the day dealt with data security, protection tools and techniques. As modern journalism has almost completely turned into digital one, professionals from all over the world are constantly seeking for the ways to enhance security. Mr Ude gave several advices on how to make a journalists’ work more efficient with regard to metadata, advanced search engines and policy principles of browsers.

He also warned the journalists coming from countries with a different situation with regard to freedom of information and state surveillance on citizens: even if the official reason is to improve security against terrorist attacks or criminal offenses, an increase of surveillance and decrease of privacy always mean a greater risk for civil rights. “Anything that is technically possible and findable with surveillance will happen” stated Mr Ude in his lecture. Mass surveillance by governments worldwide creates a constantly more precarious working environment for journalists all around the world.

The last part of the lecture was dedicated to the techniques that journalist can use to acquire information securely through the web and to protect themselves: Ude recommended the use of mail-encryption software PGP-keys, anonymous communication software to get in touch with sources and browsing the web anonymously through special browsers like the Tor browser.  Left aside the technical details, the main question regarding mass-surveillance is essentially non-technical and led into a lively discussion: in which kind of society do we want to live? Will it be a based on freedom and protection of our individual rights or shaped by paranoia, mutual suspicion and privacy intrusion?

Find an interview with the trainer Albrecht Ude on Orange Magazine’s coverage of the workshop.

Here you can find the Live Blog of day 2.


Monday, September 12
Excursion to Berlin

The third day of M100 YEJ workshop started with the visit at the Federal Press Conference in Berlin. The president of the Association of European Journalists (VEJ) Dr Hendrik Schott discussed not only the principles of the Federal Press Conference, but overall German media environment as well.
One of the most important topics raised during the discussion was the issue of freedom of expression. Being a serious problem in many countries, it’s fairly protected in Germany. “The freedom of media is guaranteed, but you often have to fight for it”, Mr Schott pointed out.

The participants had also the possibility to meet Steffen Seibert, spokesperson of Chancellor Merkel. He answered some questions and took time for a photo with the group.

The afternoon continued with a visit to the German headquarter of Reporters without Borders. There the YEJ´s learned from press officer Ulrike Gruska about the work of the organisation that is vital to the work of journalists around the globe.

They also met Emin Milli, editor-in-chief and founder of the Azerbaijani Meydan TV. He shared his experiences of creating an independent Azerbaijani media directed from Berlin. Only some months after starting, Meydan.tv was up and running with more than 355 000 likes on Facebook, has contracts signed with Guardian and will soon with the BBC. “Independent journalism is considered a crime in Azerbaijan. You have to be prepared to pay a very high price for it” he said. Milli, who was arrested in Azerbaidschan and lives in exile in Berlin now, has formed, despite the fear and governmental repression, a strong, independent outlet that inspires journalists around the world. “We believe in freedom of information. To us, it is like a religion,” he said. This and many more powerful moments were the highlight of the day with more insights and quotations during the following Q&A session.

The last session of the packed day dealt with new media formats and took place at Blogfabrik. The participants met Susanne Dickel, a German video journalist with lots of experience in virtual reality (VR) and 360 °reportages. Susanne Dickel, who filmed for Die Welt and now for Ze.tt, explained that VR is a computer technology which aggregates realistic images and sounds to replicate a real environment and simulates a user's physical presence in this environment. This enables the user to interact with this space. To understand how to use VR videos, she has compiled a tutorial to engage new people with this technology. In the course of the session, the young journalists could play with different cameras as well as experiencing 360° reportages with the Google Cardboard Glasses that were a gift of Google News Lab.

Please find the Live Blog about the third day here.


Tuesday, September 13
MIZ, Potsdam-Babeslberg

Stefan Candea/ RCIJ and member of ICIJ and EIC.network: Tech, tools, needs & organizations: comparing different approaches in investigative collaborations

Stefan Candea, a freelance journalist and co-founder of the Romanian Investigative Journalists Center (RIJC), conducted the fourth workshop day. His mission is to improve the cross border investigations. To organize such tasks with a bigger team, Stefan Candea presented a series of tools that facilitate the workflow between a team of journalists working from different locations.

But beyond the technical tools, the group also discussed cultural differences among the participating journalists when working on cross- border investigations, especially the approaches, working methods as well as the legal framework in each country. Candea shared his experience with the group and recommended further readings, such as the book “Story based inquiry. A handbook for investigative journalism”, written by Mark Lee Hunter (2011). The YEJ’s dived deeply into the usage of different tools as well as databases and public archives for a thorough investigation. The afternoon session was highlighted by the installation of encryption software for mailing services and other technology useful for any investigating journalist.

Here you can find the Live Blog of day 4.


Wednesday, September 14
MIZ, Potsdam-Babelsberg

Paul Radu, Co-Founder of OCCRP & RISE project Moldova: OCCRP and RISE contributions to Panama Papers. How does organized crime work? A scope of advanced follow the money techniques

On Wednesday the M100 YEJ’s had the pleasure to meet Paul Radu, investigative journalist, executive director and co-founder of the OCCRP who contributed to the Panama Papers. He gave an insight of his work and explained the contributions of OCCRP and RISE to the Panama Papers by focussing on the topic “How does organized crime work? A scope of advanced follow the money techniques”.

He strongly encouraged the participants to become a member of the Global Investigative Network, the very useful cross-border investigative online community that provides resources, networking or sometimes even personalized assistance for investigations.

He recommended tools and techniques used for investigative journalism work, such as encryption software and secure research tools, which had been a topic of previous workshop days. He then gave some examples of his pasts and current projects with which he captured the entire course.
Afterwards the YEJ’s engaged in creative detective group work where the goal was to detect schemes in criminal activities, thus, the participants had to become criminals themselves.

Paul Radu then presented other alternative search engines as well as the OCCRP developed database: the Investigative Dashboard, which offers advanced search functions on archives, documents, peoples and business. Also other public archives and databases were analysed to provide best research assistance. Some more research in groups helped the participants to understand the practical use of these tools and the gathered information. Finally, the Visualisation Tool for Investigators (VIS) helped the participants to develop a scheme around the information to be disclosed.

Please find the Live Blog of day 5 here.

But as well as the theoretical and practical journalistic work, the participants gained first-hand experience of the conditions under which their fellow journalists from different political and social systems live and work. Thus, the M100 YEJ workshop fosters tolerance, appreciation of democratic values and mutual understanding of other cultures, as well as promoting an understanding of the importance of a peaceful and united Europe.


Thursday, September 15
Orangery Sanssouci, Potsdam

The workshop concluded with the participation at the M100 Sanssouci Colloquium “War or Peace. The return of geopolitics, disintegration and the radicalisation of society in Europe” where some 70 participants spent the day at round-table discussions having to do with the return of geopolitical strategies, creeping European disintegration, the increasing radicalisation of Western, Middle Eastern and other societies, as well as the role and responsibility of the media in these developments. There, the young journalists were presented as observers and eager live bloggers who reported live from the conference (you can find the Live Blog here).

During the breaks they met with the participants of the M100 Sanssouci Colloquium like the prominent exiled Turkish journalist Can Dündar and could create first bonds with their possible future employers.

The day – and the workshop – ended with the presentation of the M100 Media Award to the italian author Roberto Saviano, where Chancellor Angela Merkel hold the political keynote speech, a reception in the Orangery of Sanssouci.

 


The M100 Young European Journalists Workshop is an initiative of the city of Potsdam and Potsdam Media International e.V. In 2016, it was supported by the Federal Foreign Office, the National Endowment for Democracy and the Association of European Journalists. It took place in co-operation with the Media Innovation Centre, the European Youth Press, Sourcefabric, OCCRP, ICIJ, Netzwerk Recherche, Correct!v and Google News Lab.

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