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Uncovered

UNCOVERED - Investigative Journalism for Europe Conference

Two hundred people gathered in Berlin at the end of January to discuss the current conditions of investigative journalism, and to find out what 12 teams of journalists uncovered in a year of work on their projects.

Launched by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), managed by the International Press Institute (IPI), selected by an independent world-class jury, and realised by cross-border teams from ten European countries, the IJ4EU fund allowed 12 great projects to be revealed.

And the human stories behind the headlines are just as compelling... reporters arrested, a bonfire of documents, and a dead colleague's notes - proving that you can assassinate a journalist but you cannot kill the truth.

Richard Kühnel, Head of Representation of the European Commission Germany, said in his welcome speech: "Free journalism is a key value in our system [...] You as journalists play a key role in fighting disinformation [....]. We'd like to encourage you to keep up the brave work you're doing. Be assured, the European Commission is on your side."

Pavla Holcova, founder of the Czech Center for Investigative Journalism and a jury member of the IJ4EU fund, told the audience in her keynote speech why investigative journalism matters in Europe: "Journalism is the most useful tool that exists to fight corruption."

"Finally we have a fund supported by the European institutions that can help us pay the rent and do complicated and important stories that matter."

Laurent Richard from Forbidden Stories presented the first IJ4EU case study - the Daphne project. His speech prompted fruitful discussion.

"You can kill the messenger, but not the message."

Climate change denial networks and funding for far-right parties through EU money have also been tackled under the IJ4EU grant.

Investigating climate change denial networks has taken Annika Joeres from the EU to the US to find transatlantic links. "This idea that climate change is not happening is getting more and more dangerous."

In their IJ4EU-funded investigation, Guillaume Krempp / Rue89 Strasbourg looked into how the EU Parliament budget funds right-wing parties. He was surprised at the not-so-strong reaction of the French public... and wished for more impact.

"We need the law, we need politics, we need each other": Margo Smit, vice-chair of the Global Investigative Journalism Network, moderated a panel discussion on SLAPP lawsuits, traumatic experiences and physical safety, political will, and the importance of collaboration - in order to create an enabling environment for investigative journalists. Said Justin Borg-Barthet:

"The EU should be able to extend its jurisdiction and have a coordinating function to prevent the abuse of laws - such as those known as SLAPP - by member states to intimidate journalists and silence critical voices".

It was impressive to hear from the IJ4EU grantees first-hard.

And grantee Jesper Nymark from DanWatch (among others) said he is thankful for the grant's enabling his team's joint investigation: “Investigative journalism must be the window to reality.”

https://twitter.com/hostwriter/status/1091076532141993984

Anna Herold, Head of the Audiovisual and Media Policy Unit at the European Commission / DG Connect, sent the audience a video message as a welcome on day two.

"I see [the Uncovered conference] as a unique forum to discuss about the importance of investigative journalism in the EU."

Said Georg Mascolo (Joint investigative group SZ/NDR/WDR):

“It is indeed a small revolution that investigative journalism is undergoing. Trust instead of mistrust. Cooperation instead of competition. It is not only success that is shared. If something goes wrong, we will also share the embarrassment.”

Two cross-border IJ4EU projects shared their experiences operating under political pressure in EU member states on misuse of EU Funds in Romania and Bulgaria and Hungarian Football Funds. Sanita Jemberga later said: "Bivol and the RISE project do it right: taking EU money to expose misuse of EU money..."

EU institutions have been the subject of other IJ4EU projects as well.

In the IJ4EU "slam session", five teams presented their projects on stage before an in-depth discussion over coffee on individual tables:

  1. Failed Child Services in Greece and Cyprus (The Manifold)
  2. The Militarization of Patriotism in Central Europe (VSquare)
  3. The Invisible Border Project: The EU’s Biometric Frontiers (Ludovica Jona)
  4. I Spy: Russian Spies in the EU (Re:Baltica) 
  5. “Cancer Tourism” in Central and Eastern Europe (Boróka Parászka)

After hearing the grantees' stories, Hungarian MEP Benedek Javor, who lobbied for the IJ4EU grant at the European Parliament for years, remarked: "This is an emotional moment for me. [The IJ4EU grant] was really something we wanted to see five years ago."

On the example of the recent developments in Hungary, Javor added: "The EU has a very important responsibility. We should do much more than the Commission has already done."

How to stay independent from the hand that feeds you? Elisa Simantke, from 'Investigate Europe', said: "The only thing that protects you [....] is to have diversity of funders."

All conference participants and organisers learned important lessons about the challenges faced by reporters, funders and decision-makers. Barbara Trionfi, Executive Director of the International Press Institute, presented them in her remarks at the end of the conference, summarised by Jane Whyatt here.

The recommendations drawn from the event, as presented by the ECPMF’s managing director Dr Lutz Kinkel, are available here.

 

Thank you for coming to this truly European conference! We look forward to seeing you again soon.

 

ttps://twitter.m/ECPMF/status/1091396957430530054Here are more impressions of the UNCOVERED conference (photos @A.Lamm/ECPMF):

See the whole Facebook gallery.


Recommendations


What we need for investigative journalism to survive and thrive was written following the UNCOVERED conference on 31.January and 1.February in Berlin. It includes the major aspects that were discussed at the conference. more information

IJ4EU and the future


Benedek Jávor (MEP) summed up the success of the long fundraising campaign for investigative journalism in the EU.more information

Event website


Visit the event website and take a look on the event schedule.more information


The Uncovered conference was kindly supported by:

supporter uncovered

Recommendations


What we need for investigative journalism to survive and thrive was written following the UNCOVERED conference on 31.January and 1.February in Berlin. It includes the major aspects that were discussed at the conference. more information

IJ4EU and the future


Benedek Jávor (MEP) summed up the success of the long fundraising campaign for investigative journalism in the EU.more information

Event website


Visit the event website and take a look on the event schedule.more information


IJ4EU projects



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