JournalistWe're the ICIJ journalists behind the Panama Papers investigation (which we released two years ago today) We're here to answer your questions about the Panama Papers (and the Paradise Papers if you'd like).
Apr 3rd 2018 by ICIJ • 22 Questions • 8479 Points
Hello! We're Will Fitzgibbon and Hamish Boland-Rudder (with a bit of help from Amy Wilson-Chapman) from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists!
Will and Hamish worked on the Panama Papers investigation that was released two years ago - today! We thought we'd take this chance to answer any new questions you have, and give you any updates we can.
Will Fitzgibbon is an investigative reporter and our Africa coordinator.
Hamish Boland-Rudder is ICIJ's online editor.
Amy Wilson-Chapman is ICIJ’s community engagement editor. She didn't work on the Panama Papers but may help Hamish and Will along the way today with more general questions.
We always try our best to answer all your questions, but we often get asked specific questions relating to our research and what we found in our data! We'll try our best, but we're a small team - so please don't take it personally.
**Update 6.37pm ET** Thanks for playing guys! We're going to take off for the night. You can leave a question and we'll attempt to get it answered in the next couple days if you like. Thanks as always for supporting our work!
Two years on- do you feel the worldwide response to the Panama Papers has been commensurate with the importance of this exposé?
I think there's a lot more to do. But, when I take a step back, there's been a hell of a lot of impact and reform, too. Some of those are big changes -- laws in Panama, Germany and elsewhere. But in some countries, it's a change in the fact that now people think more about secretive shell companies and how powerful citizens use them to the disadvantage of others. Will
There was someone who started leaking out details of the Paradise Papers on /r/conspiracy last year, about a month before the actual reporting was released. Is that something you were aware of?
We were aware of the posts on Reddit... but thats all. It wasn’t something anyone at ICIJ did. - Amy
What was the most unexpected consequence of the Panama Papers?
Protesters throwing yogurt in Iceland. I would never have thought to use that as a tool of resistance. - Will
I am surprised no one has asked, but what was the impact on Putin personally?
Hi, mirror_scotty. Hard to say on this. I don't have a direct line to him. But, by many accounts, he wasn't happy. There's a link here to a US intelligence agency report that mentions Panama Papers and Putin in the context of what happened in US election interference. Will. https://www.icij.org/investigations/panama-papers/panama-papers-revisited-yogurt-bananas-small-moustaches-fonts/
+1 starting local is the best. You learn so much (and get a thick skin!) by being a reporter in a local community. - Amy
Do you think the Panama Papers had an effect on the 2016 election?
The U.S. election? The best guide on this probably comes from the various intelligence agencies that have been looking into external influences on the election. Here's a piece from the New York Times that sums up what the intelligence agencies found: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/06/us/politics/russian-hack-report.html
Thanks for your fantastic work and efforts! One of the things I've been waiting for for quite some time is the involvement of AI in investigations, even if it's just the use of AI truth detection algorithms on videos to track down potential leads. But with lawyers starting to use AI to assist them, have journalists also found uses for that to supplement their work?
Good question! I'm not from ICIJ's data team, so I'm no expert in the wizardry they perform to make our data searchable, but I do know they're always experimenting with new technology to help make the lives of our reporters easier and help us get more from our data.
I don't think we've used AI much, but I know we're looking at improving entity extraction from within large datasets, and have made a lot of headway with getting journalists to use more powerful database tools (like graph databases through Neo4j and Linkurious), particularly when it comes to recognising patterns in networked data.
We do encourage our data gurus and tech geniuses to document their processes and write about the technology they use (and the tech trends they're following) on our blog, so we'll pass your question on and see if we can't squeeze a post out of them about AI and journalism sometime in the not-too-distant future!
Why won't you allow the public to inspect the original content as other sites such as Wikileaks?
We get asked this a bit... As Hamish explained earlier, we are in the business of public service journalism, and we'll never publish personal, private information en masse without first vetting it and ensuring it's of public interest.
All of our stories go through a rigorous fact and legal checking process, and are only published if they meet the highest journalistic standard.
Our Offshore Leaks Database includes corporate data that you'd ordinarily find on any open corporate registry - except that a lot of this data is from jurisdictions that don't have open or easily accessible registries available online. Plus, we might have a bit of bias, but we think our data is a little easier to search.
What are you most proud of in regards to the consequences that have occurred following the release of the Panama Papers?
What's the dream/goal y'all have been striving for when it comes to the consequences and justice that must be imposed on the perpetrators?
What do you feel has been overlooked?
Are you guys getting more anonymous tips now? Anything about UFOs yet?
So many anonymous tips. I'm convinced that there will be more big projects like Panama Papers in the future. So we'd be crazy not to check our mail, our inbox, Secure Drop, Signal, etc. All the ways ICIJ has for people to contact us.
I think one of the best results of Panama Papers was making offshore finance and its flaws more of a public issue than ever. The more light that is shone on it, the harder it will be for some people to misuse it.