In the face of growing threats to journalists globally, collaborative journalism offers a solution uniquely resistant to those seeking to silence the truth. This approach to reporting also helps to break down the silos that have long plagued international journalism says Phineas Rueckert, Investigative Journalist at Forbidden Stories.
Collaborative journalism is about putting aside your ego to work together with a common goal in mind.
Stories, sources and documents are shared equitably in the pursuit of greater impact.
When journalists come together, there is also safety in numbers, especially when it comes to investigating corruption, crime and impunity. Forbidden Stories was founded on this premise: even if you kill the journalist, you can’t kill the story.
Journalists are beginning to witness the impact of collaborative journalism projects.
Journalists around the world are starting to see the impact joint projects and collaborations of this type can have at-scale.
The Daphne Project was a collaborative investigation launched by Forbidden Stories in the wake of the assassination of Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in 2017. Had these journalists from outlets around the world not continued to follow the story, it may not have resulted in taking down a prime minister and members of his cabinet.
Around the world there is a sense that the press is under attack from all angles: physical, legal, verbal, and so on. Knowing that an individual journalist or outlet will not bear the brunt of those attacks offers a strong security mechanism.
In a globalised world, it only makes sense that journalism should become more global.
The silos that used to exist — between journalists, between news outlets, between countries — may be losing their place, and journalists from around the world are seeing this.
Collaborative journalism projects tend to more evenly distribute the balance of the entire process of doing journalism. The work is shared; the successes are shared; and so too are the pressures.
Each journalist and outlet involved in the project is responsible for the final output of the project, and it’s much harder for a businessperson or a politician to sue 30 news outlets for libel than just one.
Collaborative journalism is a perfect model for more dangerous investigations.
Investigations into crime, corruption, and various other abuses of power, such as journalist killings, human rights violations, and so on, are perfect fits for the collaborative journalism model.
Dangerous investigations put independent journalists and freelancers at the highest risk, and this shows in the statistics of journalists killed around the world.
Coming together to work on these difficult topics can mitigate the danger for all of the reporters involved.
I’m still rather new to collaborative journalism, but even in my limited experience, working in this way has proven fruitful for reporting.
For the Cartel Project, for example, journalists from around the world were able to jointly investigate firearms sold to Mexican police that are used in human rights violations, finding that European manufacturers are also partially responsible for the violence in Mexico.
Digging into these documents alongside Belgian, Israeli, and German journalists showed the global scope of this deadly trade.
By Phineas Rueckert, Investigative Journalist at Forbidden Stories
Forbidden Stories is global network of investigative journalists whose mission is to continue the work of reporters who are threatened, censored or killed.
To learn more about collaborative journalism, join us for our free online event on Tue, 25 May, Stronger Together: Collaborative journalism and the Cartel Project.