'GLOBAL, NETWORKED AND COLLABORATIVE': HOW THE NORMALIZATION OF LEAKING SHAPED THE IDENTITY AND PRACTICE OF INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM
Keywords:leaking, Wikileaks, transnational journalism networks, data journalism, transcultural communication
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.
This paper shows how data-driven journalism networks today are shaped by the ways in which journalists normalized leaking in technological, organizational, and cultural ways since Wikileaks’ publication of the Afghan war logs. 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. To examine the future of journalism in a more globalized and datafied world, I will conclude with suggesting that media and journalism studies needs to rely more on theories and methodological frameworks that do justice to journalism’s increasingly transcultural nature.