The Panama Papers: The making of a scoop

Firma aufmacher final
Sueddeutsche Zeitung

Wolfgang Krach, Editor-in-Chief of Sueddeutsche Zeitung, was interviewed by Ken Auletta, media critic for The New Yorker, discussing an explosive topic: The Panama Papers. These are among the findings of a yearlong investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the leading German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung and more than 100 other news organizations.

The secrets of dirty money

The Panama Papers, the unprecedented leak of 11.5 Million files from the database of the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca, are the largest data leak journalists have ever worked with. It started with an email in early 2015: "Hello, this is John Doe. Interested in data?" An anonymous source contacted the Sueddeutsche Zeitung and submitted encrypted internal documents. Wolfgang admitted: "In the beginning we didn't know how big this operation will be. It was such an enormous amount of data. And it was increasing week by week."

A new chance for journalism in the age of digitalization

The project was only possible because hundreds of journalists in over 80 countries cooperated and worked together. But how was it possible that absolutely nothing leaked, Ken wanted to know. "This is the biggest wonder for me", Wolfgang said. "I think everyone knew, that if anybody talks about it, it could be the end of the whole project. So everyone kept the secret." For Wolfgang the operation "Panama Papers" proofed one thing: "It's worthwhile doing investigative journalism – and the importance of it is growing. "That's exactly what differentiates us from bloggers for example. We publish things that nobody else can do", he said. "And we have to invest in it. Because this will be the future."

All DLDnyc 16 Blogposts