The Panama Papers : collaboration and the data/story searching mechanisms In the international investigative journalism project
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The Panama Papers was a global project that united approximately 400 journalists worldwide. Their investigations are based on 11.5 million leaked files. This research studied how journalists collaborated with each other to produce the Panama Papers project and how the journalists sorted the data to prioritize which documents to study and which stories to work on. Data for the research was collected through the interviews recorded with the journalists and editors who worked and continue to work on the project, based on the biggest data leak in the history of journalism. This study showed there were inner rules everyone had to follow. One of them was a radical sharing of information among the project’s participants via a secret communication platform. Participants revealed that journalists were sharing story ideas and giving recommendations to each other. This kind of behavior is not usually observed among reporters whose aim is to be first to publish a story. The close communication between reporters and editors turned out to be another aspect that contributed to the success of the project. And the layers of editors at the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project and the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung helped to avoid any mistakes in the reporting. Information provided by the participants of the research allows the researcher to draw the following conclusion: The Panama Papers created a new paradigm of a global newsroom based on trust, inner rules and the cooperation of a few hundred journalists. It should be recalled that approximately 400 journalists from all around the globe participated in the Panama Papers. The researcher focused on the work process of the reporters and editors mostly in European countries. It would be interesting to see how these processes developed and worked in Asian and Latin American countries. The researcher assumes that the diversity within the cultures might have affected the work of the media professionals in those parts of the world, and conducting studies about this topic may present information that will help to see the Panama Papers project from a wider angle.