Photo by Mufid Majnun on Unsplash

Pierre Romera, chief of technology at the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists

Join us to hear how the largest cross-border collaboration to date exposes the hidden riches of the elite

The biggest leak about tax havens to date, an unprecedented journalistic collaboration spanning across the globe and a number of important revelations showing how a shadowy financial system benefits the world’s most rich and powerful. 

Join us for our next Dataharvest pop-up session with ICIJ’s Pierre Romera to learn how the largest investigation in the history of journalism came to be.

Save the date: October 13, 2021 at 10:00 AM CEST

Register here

The Pandora Papers investigation featured more than 600 journalists from 150 news outlets and has unearthed offshore dealings of 35 current and former world leaders and more than 300 other current and former public officials and politicians around the world.

What does one do upon receiving a colossal 2.94 TB of data comprised of 11,9 millions of internal documents? How do you handle such a massive leak securely? What does it take to coordinate the reporting of 600 journalists across the world? How does one structure the research information and organise the findings of such a complex project?

Chief of technology of International Consortium of Investigative journalists (ICIJ) Pierre Romera will join us for a discussion to reveal the details behind the investigation on which he has been working on for the past two years.

You can read the Pandora papers featured articles here

Explore the biggest political names uncovered in data

Learn more about the investigation

How do we track surveillance and deal with cybersecurity? How do we investigate abuse of personal data? How can we assess the lobbying power of big tech? These are questions of acute importance for all journalists – here is a chance to get closer to some answers!

Join us for a series of three half-day seminars in a cooperation between the Panelfit Consortium, Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso, European Data Journalism Network and Arena for Journalism in Europe. The seminars are aimed at journalists, academics, and NGOs. They are open for all and free of charge.


Tuesday, October 19: Cybersecurity in Europe

Wednesday, October 20: When data hurt the vulnerable

Thursday October 21: The power of Big Tech

See more and register

We’re looking into who’s making profit in the elderly care business – join us on Wednesday September 22th at 10:00 am !

Across Europe, international corporations and financial investors are making huge profits on the business of care homes in which elderly people often live – and pass away – in dire circumstances.

How does this profit-making business fit within a sector that is understaffed and under-financed? Why do governments allow this to happen? And, are there alternatives to this cashing-in on an ageing society?

These are some of the questions that Investigate Europe journalists focused on in their ambitious investigation “Grey Gold – The Billion-Euro business of elder care.”

Join us for a talk with Harald Schumann, Investigate Europe’s journalist and coordinator of this investigation who will guide us through the investigation process, the data behind it and flag the stories that are still left to be told.

Save the date: Wednesday September 22th, 10:00 AM (CET)

Register for the pop-up here Read more

Over the past decade, the European Union has spent billions of euros in public funds on policing, border control and counter-terrorism. Three investigative journalists spent months investigating and gathering data from open sources and dozens of FOI requests to map EU’s security funding programs.

To learn what they’ve found out and how they’ve done it, join us for a Pop-Up session with investigative journalist Caitlin L. Chandler on June 16 at 10 am CEST.

Register here.

Caitlin L. Chandler, Chris Jones and Zach Campbell wanted to know how the EU’s security funding shapes our everyday lives, travel and rights to privacy. They discovered an opaque and over-bureaucratic system of funding that rarely gets under public scrutiny. The funding has gone to “to develop pan-European police networks and border surveillance systems.”

With help of data journalist Simon Wörpel,  they also built a public database aimed at journalists, NGOs and everyone who’s interested in knowing more about how the EU spends money on security-related projects. They also discovered that the EU, despite its claims to want to promote peace, wants to use public money to fund the supply of weapons to foreign armies.

You can search the database here.

You can read their stories here:

Their research received support from IJ4EU

Thank you for now! The 3-week Dataharvest conference just ended, and we are so happy that many joined in and hopefully learnt new things, even if we have had enough of video conferences, and even if early summer is beckoning from the outside.

Tell us what worked and
what could be improved

We are not finished yet! During the rest of the year, we will have Pop-Up sessions with new investigations and a series of master classes with essential techniques and tools for investigative journalists. The Pop-Ups are free, and your Dataharvest ticket also includes the master classes.

Next year in Mechelen! How we look forward to meeting you all face to face again! The next Dataharvest conference will take place in Mechelen, Belgium, on May 19-22, 2022. Pre-conference meetings and master classes on the 19, full-fledged conference from Friday 20th at 10 until Sunday lunch. See you there!

Do you have ideas? – Pitch them here!

Thank you for your support – to all participants, but not least to our beloved speakers who all volunteered to share their knowledge, to our partner organisations who inspired and challenged us, and to the funders who supported the conference and helped us through this difficult period.

The next Pop-Up is already on June 16 at 10 am. See you around!

Best regards,

The Dataharvest & EIJC team

Illustration by Christina S. Zhu

#MeToo in the medical sector: investigating the extent of sexual harassment committed by doctors 

What happens to doctors convicted of sexual harassment? How often do they lose their license and which sanctions do they face? Four journalists wanted to dig deeper into this phenomenon and find out just how widespread it was in their respective countries (Germany, Croatia, France, and Italy). 

Join us for a session with Cécile Debarge, Margherita Bettoni, and Jelena Prtorić to learn more about their investigation and what methods they used to track harassment in the medical field in four EU countries.

In December 2020, a retired French surgeon Joël Le Scouarnec, accused of sexually abusing over 300 young children over decades, was sentenced to 15 years in prison in the very first trial against him. Many of his victims were his patients. In Germany, an internationally respected HIV specialist allegedly abused and, in some cases, assaulted patients in his care, revealed an investigation of Buzzfeed Germany in 2019. Many other cases of sexual abuse and harassment committed by medical doctors have been reported by the media in both France and Germany, as well as in other parts of Europe.

In the past years, the #Metoo movement has swept the entertainment industry, the instances of widespread sexual harassment were reported within different institutions and in multiple countries. This research in four European countries has shown that sexism, harassment, and sexualized violence are endemic in the medical sector as well. 

Over eight months, the four journalists worked to create a comprehensive database of cases of sexual abuse and harassment in four different countries. In this session, they are going to guide you through the whole process: How they obtained the information from the medical authorities in their countries and at the European level; how they reached out to the survivors and gathered their stories, and how they dealt with data gaps.

“Accessing official data in Germany wasn’t complicated. The problem was the discrepancy between the officially registered cases of sexual abuse against patients (very few), and what experts, lawyers, psychotherapists, and women whom we talked to told us about the scale of the problem in Germany. So we had to find alternative ways of understanding how widespread the phenomenon really is,” explains Margherita Bettoni, investigative journalist.

In Germany, this involved, for instance, setting up a survey through which the victims were able to reach out to journalists or simply tell their stories. 

In other countries – France, Italy, and Croatia – it was much harder to gain access to the data. In some cases, the authorities even didn’t have the data; the survey asking victims to share their stories only got few (non-anonymous) answers.

“Having no official figures meant that we had to find another way to describe how common the phenomenon was,” says Cécile Debarge, French investigative journalist. “First, I collected roughly 75 stories published in the French newspapers over the last decade. Then, a doctor gave me a tip – the Medical Chamber has published some of the appealed disciplinary decisions. I built a second database that I cross-checked with the first one – I collected and analyzed 72 appealed decisions. This is not an exhaustive database, but the sample was significant enough for me to build my story.”

In Croatia, the national medical Chambre and the Health authorities were much less forthcoming. The investigation involved “an extensive FOI operation, which started last summer – and in some cases, still is ongoing; analysis of the media reports, and follow-up stories on the cases that came under media scrutiny in the past,” explains Jelena Prtorić, investigative journalist from Croatia. 

The team also included investigative journalist Julianne Löffler from Germany (Buzzfeed Germany).

Join us for the session to hear more about these difficult approaches, what results they’ve yielded and how you could replicate the methodologies in your country

You can find past and future stories here: 

Have our data sessions inspired you, but you feel there is still so much you could learn? Are you interested in investigating stories about the climate crisis, energy transition, or environmental wrongdoing and you need some help in making sense of the datasets you’ve come across? Have you wondered how the open-source tools can help you investigating environmental stories?

We are here to help! This year, you have the opportunity to book our trainers for “office hours” and get some one-on-one time with them to delve into the data and hone your data journalism and OSINT skills.

Please note that the data mentorship sessions will focus on climate/energy/environmental data and that the OSINT questions should also be related to climate/energy/environment. 

The sessions will take place after the official program of Dataharvest 2021:

  • The Data mentorship sessions will take place on Mondays June 14, June 21 and June 28 (time slots to be determined depending on the number of the participants)
  • The OSINT sessions will take place in the week of June 14 (specific dates and times will be determined with the trainer).

Both data and OSINT mentorship sessions are supported by the European Climate Foundation.

Climate data mentorship sessions

In 3 weeks and 3 lessons, our mentors will help you question the climate-related datasets of your choice. There will be learning, there will be homework and in the end, these tools and knowledge will hopefully allow you to continue working on the topic of your choice.

Please make sure you can spare have at least 4 hours per week for the course. If possible, attend the climate sessions on June 4 at Dataharvest, not least Aviation: how to analyse major airlines’ offset programmes?

Your mentors will be Adriana Homolova and Jonathan Stoneman. Please sign up for the data mentorship here

OSINT mentorship sessions

Do you want to track deforestation in your country by analyzing satellite images or track vessels in order to investigate the impact of the fishing industry on our oceans? During the week of June 14, you will have the possibility to book one-on-one sessions with our trainer Ben Heubl who will be able to help you out with all your “environmental OSINT” questions!

If you are interested in the OSINT mentorship sessions, please get in touch with in order to find out more and book your time slot.

Register here

Do you have questions related to the climate sessions or data/OSINT mentorship? Please reach out to Jelena Prtoric


In 2021, the Suez Canal obstruction has reminded us how shipping is central to our global economy. But shipping industry is also among the world’s biggest polluters and tax avoiders. Join us for a session with a cross-border team that has investigated this often opaque industry over the course of one year.

Register for the session here

Objectives to fight the climate crisis are clear: global emissions need to be reduced, across countries and sectors. The shipping industry’s emissions are larger than those of Germany, they seriously impact our climate and they are continuing to rise. The industry is also awarded huge subsidies, saving billions through preferential tax arrangements offered by European countries.

Craig Shaw,  Nikolas Leontopoulos and Zeynep Sentek wanted to know if the shipping industry and IMO – the International Maritime Organisation, a division of the United Nations – are serious in their efforts to reduce emissions.

They and their team travelled to different European countries, interviewed climate activists, experts, politicians, lobby groups, shipowners and health professionals.  They’ll present us their findings and their methodology. You should also check out their documentary.

Olaf Merk who leads leads the work on ports and shipping at the International Transport Forum (ITF) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) will also join the panel to share his work about shipping’s tax evasion. Merk collected financial records of around one hundred major shipping companies, hoping to “put a number on” the industries’ tax burden.

“On average, the tax rate of the shipping industry is around 7 percent of their profits, which is well below the average OECD rate for corporate tax income, which is around 24% (…)  For example, concerning the cruise sector, we found out that on average their tax rate is 0%,” Merk stated.

“Confronting “the bad guys” is an essential part of an investigation.

Every journalist is bound to, at least once in their career, to call up “the antagonist”, to confront them with what was said about them, ask for clarifications and counter arguments. Many of us dread that moment, and it is sometimes hard to estimate when exactly we should make the dreadful call.

Journalists Margherita Bettoni, Nils Hanson and Micael Pereira who have confronted many “bad guys” in their career, will join us for a session to talk about how and when they decide to confront the subject of their investigation.

Register for the session here

Nils Hanson, Sweden

If something fills us with anxiety, we might want to postpone it for the very last minute. But veteran investigative journalist Nils Hanson believes this not necessarily a great idea. “This is not something you do dutifully at the last minute. On the contrary, it should be one of the significant parts of an investigation. If you are sincerely searching for the truth, you should ask yourself: How soon can I contact “the other side”? The sooner, the better,” he says. By establishing early contact with the subject of the investigation, you can get explanations and facts you otherwise probably will miss, he believes.

Margherita Bettoni, Italy/Germany

In some investigations, however, that might not be the best idea. Margherita Bettoni who has specialised, among other things, in coverage of the Italian mafia in Germany, stresses that while the confrontation in an early stage might be useful in some cases – in others it might give the “bad guy” precious time to cover his wrongdoing. “While investigating dangerous criminals, it might even be recommendable to confront them just short before publication to avoid safety risks,” she points out.

Micael Pereira, Portugal

But the question is not just when, but also how. Portuguese journalist Micael Pereira says that bad guys should be confronted “in a way we can expose the ethical and emotional dilemmas they are involved with.”

“This should be done, ideally, face to face so that we can avoid the effect of mediation from crisis managers and media experts hired to make them look less bad. Truth about this kind of character is larger than facts and investigative journalism can have a stronger impact if we incorporate it in the building of our narratives. If we leave the chance to meet them for last, we risk losing that — and also losing the fun of doing it,” he says. 

You have access to this big data set, you have downloaded all the software, you know how to scrape and clean. But until now, all you have is numbers. Where is the STORY?

Many data journalism trainers have noticed that journalists focus too much on the software and technology and not enough on what kind of story the data tell. One was British data journalist and data journalism professor Paul Bradshaw (BBC and professor at Birmingham City University)  – and he decided to do something about it. Hear the result on Thursday May 27 at Dataharvest 2021.

“Over the years I have seen that people seem to focus too much on the technology as an end in itself,” says Paul Bradshaw. “I was talking about different kinds of data stories, but not in a systematic way. So one day I took 100 pieces of data journalism, tried to classify them and see what kind of stories kept recurring. So that was it, really.”

The result was a list of 7 typical data stories in the news – and one extra. Once the categories were defined, it was clear that they could be used not just for analysis of published news stories, but also to see the story from the very beginning. And they de-mystify data journalism for beginners.

“The categories help to reduce some of the fears, anxieties, or misconceptions about data journalism,” says Bradshaw. “People are mostly aware of very big, ambitious, technically complex data projects – and they think that it has to be like that from the start. Now people can see that a simple “this-has-changed” story or “this-is-how-big-a-problem-is” story is not technically demanding, you just have to add things up. At the next step you may need to subtract or find a percentage. So it gives a better conception of what data journalism is, and an entry point that is very accessible.”

“In the other end of the scale, you have the “bad data” stories or the “no data” stories. They are relatively rare compared to the other types, but it is a useful category. When you cannot find data, you sometimes think that you don’t have a story, whereas it is really the lack of data that is the story.”

Bradshaw uses the categories himself, even after many years of doing data journalism:

“They are useful for experienced journalists, too, I have found that when I approach a story, I tend to have habits and look for the same kind of stories. Then it is useful to force oneself to come up with angles for all these 7 or 8 categories. It forces you to break your routines. It forces me to think out of the box.”

Paul Bradshaw’s 7 categories of stories are 1) Scale, 2) Change, 3) Ranking, 4) Variations 5) Explore 6) Relationships 7) Bad data/open. And the extra one? Join the session to find out!

Paul Bradshaw’s blog on online journalism