European Investigative Collaborations (EIC) has evolved in less then a year from an informal group to a non-registered Association with it’s seat in Hamburg. By now EIC partners are representing a diverse spectrum of European investigative journalism players: traditional media, non-profit and digital players. So we choose the most appropriate structure that can host the different mind-sets, organization types, skills, journalistic traditions and legal systems that co-exist in different corners of Europe, avoiding centralization and betting on distributed collaboration.
The Articles of Incorporation, the official certificate of our existence, are signed by Der Spiegel, Mediapart, Dagens Nyheter, The Romanian Centre for Investigative Journalism / The Black Sea, Politiken, Le Soir, El Mundo, L’Espresso, Expresso, Falter, NewsWeek Serbia and NRC.
We do collaborate with project based partners, like we did in the case of Football Leaks (Sunday Times) and Malta Files (Malta Today). And we explore special partners outside Europe, like the recent collaboration with The Intercept.
A separate document signed by all these partners, our Letter of Understanding, details our rules of engagement, our network workflow, the roles of the people involved and the specifications of the tools we use and develop.
The Letter of Understanding is a living document: it was from the beginning open for a collaborative input and we keep it open to changes based on the feedback gathered from all participating journalists at the end of each investigative project.
Once a year editors in chief of each media partner are gathering in one place to discuss such changes and to decide on the EIC operating budget and other contributions. Most valuable, and most costly, are the journalists, info-designers and coders assigned from each newsroom to take part in EIC projects. But sometimes there are not enough resources available within the various newsrooms. So each member partner contributes with a membership fee and that’s how the budget of EIC comes together. The budget covers a part-time coordinator as well as freelance work on investigative research and tech development in areas not fully covered by EIC members.
EIC Association is run by a board of three, elected for two years: Alfred Weinzierl from Der Spiegel, Esther Rosenberg from NRC and Alain Lallemand from Le Soir. The executive coordination of EIC operations, meaning investigative projects; tools development and partnerships, is run by Stefan Candea from RCIJ/TBS.
We function around a daily interactions on searches and information exchange and we have a weekly voice conference. If we have disagreements, which is happening usually before publishing investigative projects, we have two rules: everybody has a saying, but each media partner has one vote; and the last word on publication dates for any given project is with the media partner who brought the source documents.
Besides publishing stories, we are on the move on different fronts: we explore ways to engage the younger generation by way of paid internship hosted by different partners; we prototype tools for investigative collaborations; we publish scraped data-sets and the scrapers themselves for others to use; and we share our knowledge at journalstic conferences.
There is more to come - so stay tuned.