The impact of leaking on the identity and practice of investigative journalism

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From the Panama Papers to the Migrants' Files, we appear to witness a 'Golden Age of global muckraking'. While cross-border collaborations among journalists are not new, data technologies have dramatically increased their scale and degree of collaboration. Transnational collaborations among journalists are increasingly data-driven operations specialized on facilitating the analysis of huge leaks. In a more dynamic media environment, where traditional identities and routines of journalism are being challenged, data-driven transnational networks help to articulate global standards of investigative journalism and shape journalism's ability to tackle issues in an increasingly globalized and interdependent world.

In this presentation, I will talk about how data-driven journalism networks today are shaped by the ways in which journalists normalized the collaborations around Wikileaks' publications in 2010 and 2011 in technological, organizational, and cultural ways. The result has been a) the establishment – or evolution – of national and transnational structures that facilitate collaborations; and b) that the concept of ‘leaking’ was moved away from radical transparency advocacy, and into traditional journalistic ethics and identities. The subsequent normalization of leaking is relevant beyond leaking itself, as it more broadly shapes practices around ‘data-driven cross-border collaboration’. This means that the practices, organizational structures and technologies developed around leaking also shape collaborative data collection or data sharing projects.

Dr Stefan Baack is Research associate at Weizenbaum Institute and research and data analyst at the Mozilla Foundation, Germany. His research is broadly interested in the evolution of democratic practices and visions in increasingly datafied and globalized media environments. In his dissertation, he studied the relationship between data journalism and civic tech to understand how the growing reliance on data in both journalism and civil society has created new synergies between them. Since the end of his PhD at the Centre for Media and Journalism Studies at the University of Groningen (Netherlands), he works as an associate researcher at the The Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society and as a research and data analyst for the Mozilla Foundation (both in Berlin). His current research has a focus on transnational networks in journalism and civil society, while his work at Mozilla is about finding and reviewing relevant sources for the Internet Health Report (, which assesses the status of the internet along the lines of the Mozilla Manifesto.

6:00pm Arrive / Socialise / Grab a drink
6:30pm Dr Baack speaks
7:00pm Drinks / Food / Open Discussion
8:00pm Close