Investigative Journalists Are An Endangered Species – An Interview With OCCRP’s Miranda Patrucic
Miranda Patrucic is among the most famous investigative journalists in the world, having worked on the Panama Papers and investigated corruption in Azerbaijan’s ruling family. She is a part of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) team, an international journalism organization investigating corruption. We spoke with Miranda about the cooperation between journalists and civil society groups, and the role of journalists in tackling corruption and wrongdoing.
“I think investigative journalists are an endangered species,” Miranda says. “There are so few of us, and it takes years to train one.”
How is OCCRP involved with OGP?
It’s our second time here; the first time we presented our collaboration project with Transparency International. Being here is very interesting because we see the governments’ perspective on opening up and being more transparent, and we also see the goals of civil society and where they would like the governments to develop.
How do you as investigative journalists begin to work with civil society on joint projects?
It is a result of natural discussion, as we need to reinvent journalism. There is so much corruption, so much wrongdoing, and governments – especially the corrupt ones – are closing in on journalists and activists, so we need to find a way to work together. Working with civil society is one of the models that we are trying out to see whether it can make things better for journalists. We had examples when we successfully worked with civil society before; for example, during some investigations in Montenegro, we worked with [the] local Transparency International team. They were our source, and they could access a lot of information on the spot, but they are not traditional journalists, so they did not do the actual reporting. It was a natural thing to consider such cooperation afterwards. Sometimes, we go to [a] conference, and we talk to people, who say they have certain information, and want to know how to share it. [M]ore and more, powerful figures are figuring out ways to make stories and journalists silent. Therefore, it is a natural thing to try something new and reinvent journalism – the way we do it.
Is it okay for journalists to be activists?
No, journalists cannot be activists, because we need to keep our independence, and we cannot call for certain solutions. We can say that a person is corrupt, but it is not our job to tell people to keep this person in power or not. It is our job to help spread the word because this is what we are working on. Yet, we cannot be activists. Even when we cooperate with civil society, we are still working independently.