More than half of the 2011 participants on the roof of the conference building. Most are still Dataharvest regulars. Among the faces are (front row) Stefan Wehrmeyer, Mar Cabra, Jan Gunnar Furuly, (middle row) Delphine Reuter, Nils Mulvad, Stanimir Vaglenov, Staffan Dahllöf, Miranda Patrucic, Margus Järv, (back row) Smári McCarthy, Friedrich Lindenberg, Anders Pedersen, Per Anders Johansen, Jack Thurston, Tommy Kaas, Brigitte Alfter, Lars-Marten Nagel and John Bones.

Dataharvest – isn’t that a strange name for a journalism conference? Why not the “Arena conference” or something equally obvious? Well, there is a reason – of course.

It all began in 2009 when a small group of journalists and data developers from around Europe got together in the project, where they compiled and compared data about the beneficiaries of the EU’s generous farm subsidies. They formed a network that worked for better transparency of the EU farm subsidies – and met again the year after to harvest the new data.

By 2011, the meeting was opened to other investigative and data journalists and data developers, and the conference began to take its current form (at least when there is no COVID-19) moving from the project to the Fonds Pascal Decroos/Journalismfund.

35 journalists came to the first open conference – all in the field of European, cross-border collaborative, investigative and data journalism. The working atmosphere from the early years was maintained as the number of participants kept growing. In this atmosphere, many large and important investigations have been hatched over coffee at Dataharvest.

By 2018, there were almost 500 participants. And over the years, the team behind experimented with the fact that title event was becoming the biggest European Investigative Journalism Conference. So should it be Dataharvest & EIJC or any combination of the two or only the Dataharvest – or only the European Investigative Journalism Conference?

Now run by Arena and despite the fine abbreviation of EIJC, the Dataharvest name stuck. “Are you coming to Dataharvest?” or “See you at Dataharvest!” were the words everybody used to talk about the conference. So we embrace it. These are our roots: we came from cooperation across borders and a fight for transparency in Europe about farming, still a hot topic of European politics. Today our reach is much wider, and we dig down into new areas every year to create journalistic networks – from algorithms to climate. But Dataharvest it is. For the time being.


Let’s keep the fire burning inside – avoid burnout!

Investigative projects come with all kinds of pressures that influence your physical, mental and emotional well-being – and ultimately your ability to sustain and increase your potential and the work you most care about. We know that a number of investigative colleagues have suffered from burn-out and stress, often debilitating them for months. Therefore, we offer this special course in stress management with a total of five sessions over a month because if you want to change a habit, it takes practice. Change requires practice over time.

This program will support participants to better understand the mechanics of stress, how to relate it in a healthier way and what changes they can make to create a healthier working environment. 

This program is for you if:

  • You are concerned about your stress levels and overall physical and mental health;
  • You are recovering from exhaustion or burn out; or
  • You just want to improve your ability to deal with the ongoing disruption and uncertainties of our times in a more supportive way.

The webinar and weekly meetups offer a basic introduction to stress management. You can expect to learn to recognize when you are off balance and practice methods to help you get back into balance and integrate them into your daily life.   

The webinar will be practical and participatory. During the meetups you can share your experiences and challenges. You’ll also get the opportunity to deepen your self-awareness and practice self-regulation techniques with the support of the trainers and your fellow colleagues. Though the meetups are not mandatory, we recommend that you attend them. Just like journalism skills, stress management skills require both time and practice.

Kick-off webinar Tuesday September 22 from 16:00 – 17:30 CET

The webinar will cover the following topics:

  • The health and wellbeing of investigative journalists. Should we be concerned? What about and why? What might make a positive difference?
  • The landscape of stress.  What is stress and when is it healthy and unhealthy?  What happens to our body, mind and emotions when we experience an unpleasant or otherwise challenging situation?
  • Self-awareness. How do you know you have reached an unhealthy stress level? What are the key stress factors in your work and/or life right now that generate stress? How can you avoid going over your physical and mental limits?
  • Self-regulation. How do you come back into balance when you’re feeling off balance?

A recording of the webinar will be available throughout the duration of the program.

During the meetups, we will dive into the following themes:

  • Meetup 1 – Tuesday September 29 from 16:00 to 17:00 CET: Self-awareness and Self-management – understanding your body, mind and emotions under stress and what helps you get out of unhelpful habits.
  • Meetup 2 – Tuesday October 6 from 16:00 to 17:00 CET: Self-awareness and Focus – managing distractions and maintaining your mind’s ability to focus and manage attention.
  • Meetup 3 – Tuesday October 13 from 16:00 to 17:00 CET: Self-awareness and Choices – how to make choices and set boundaries in a world of deadlines.
  • Meetup 4 – Tuesday October 20 from 16:00 to 17:00 CET: Self-awareness and Intentions – cultivating a positive mindset to help integrate what you have learned further into your life.

The meetups are not mandatory. However, we recommend that you attend as many as possible. You are able to sign-up for them separately. The meetups will not be recorded.

One-on-one coaching session.  A one-hour free coaching session to address your personal challenges. There are only 10 spots available, first come, first served. Once all free spots have been filled, you will still have the opportunity to sign-up for a fee of €25. Sign up for individual coaching here.


Kim Brice (US/Netherlands), originally an anthropologist, who has experience as an activist and organizational consultant with non-profit organizations in the media freedom, freedom of expression and broader human rights and social justice sectors. She has supported a number of national and international investigative journalism groups. She is also a personal leadership, mindfulness and stress reduction coach and trainer. She has coached a number of investigative journalists through post-burn out and other professional and personal challenges.
Robin van Raaij (Netherlands) is a coach and trainer with vast management experience having held executive positions in both the commercial and public sectors. His experience with organizational change management enables him to address issues such as teamwork and business development challenges. He is an associate with the Kairos Project which provides social and environmental organizations affordable and accessible coaching-based learning and development. As a coach, he supports clients with both personal and professional challenges.

Wouldn’t it be nice to meet old and new colleagues at the Dataharvest conference in charming Mechelen? Well, this year it is not possible. But the Dataharvest Digital allows us to look for new formats of socialising with colleagues from all over Europe. So we invite you to take a digital sundowner with colleagues Thursday afternoons (coffee is okay too)!

Naturally, video conferences need more structure than a quick “nice-to-meet-you-where-are-you-from” over a conference cup of coffee.

So we try out formats such as quizzes (using data journalism skills), lessons-learnt (from mistakes we now can laugh about with others) and excessive nerdiness (comparing the funniest, weirdest, most outrageous freedom of information requests).  

And who knows, what can come out of such meetings? We have the meeting rooms, let’s try it out from here. If you have ideas, do share them on

Welcome to Dataharvest Digital as a meeting place – typically over lunches and for the Thursday afternoon from 16:30 or 17:00 to 18:30.

The climate crisis is probably the biggest story of our time and, at Dataharvest Digital, we are always following the relevant story – across the borders and fields.
This is why we’ve decided to “follow the pipeline”, and make the energy sector’s impact on climate the focus of Dataharvest 2020.
We have dedicated a number of sessions, spread over two weeks in September and November, to different aspects of investigative, in-depth, data and cross-border coverage of the climate and energy sector.
We will be looking into the lobbying mechanisms and their impact of the European climate policies; we’ll track climate deniers, across the countries and on Twitter, and get an overview of the available datasets related to climate and energy by relevant data providers. We’ll explore the world of the VAT fraudsters on the energy market and look into fraudulent carbon credits, and see how big business can sometimes turn green energy dirty.
Dataharvest digital is also conceived as an online meeting place that will bring together (investigative) journalists working or interested in the field of climate and energy to exchange their experiences, network and brainstorm on future stories.
Join 13 weeks of online learning, networking and discussion – register here:

We slowly faced the fact over the late spring: We could not responsibly plan a Dataharvest conference in November in Mechelen, not knowing if a second wave of the virus was underway, not knowing if international travel was possible. We, like so many others, had to plan an online conference. So we set sails for unknown waters.

Dataharvest Digital is a first for us, and things may change as we get wiser. We have set-up a direct line for any good ideas for change or improvement:

Networking at the 2019 Dataharvest – can we re-create the good networking online? (Drawing by Pieter Fannes)

Here is what we have planned:

Tracks have turned into thematic weeks: At the Dataharvest conferences, we usually have many tracks – investigative method, digital security, FOI etcetera. We have turned the tracks into theme weeks, of course with several weeks on the areas that we care most intensely about: Crossborder collaboration and investigative method and the topic of the year: Climate & Energy, we also dubbed it “Follow the pipeline”.

Traditional formats turned digital: Dataharvest would usually have a variety of formats: presentations, panel debates, networking roundtables and hands-on sessions. We have attempted to transform them all to the online format, so you during a morning can for example listen to an inspirational presentation, then participate in a hands-on session to learn the tools used and finally have a networking session with colleagues over a digital lunch to discuss further actions.

Strong speakers and panelists: Fortunately, almost all speakers we have asked to join the online conference have accepted! You will meet investigative journalists, research experts and colleagues with long experience in collaborations, and there will be plenty of time for discussions and Q&A.

Professional atmosphere: Dataharvest is a working conference, where investigations are planned, and investigative teams meet. We hope that this can be taken online as well, so participants leave Dataharvest with new ideas and connections for the next investigation. In all sessions, participants will have to register, so we know who is invited to the room and who isn’t. Some of our presentations will be recorded and made available for a day or two, but our discussions and chats will not be recorded. Our considerations on technical security? – we will devote an entire post to that shortly.

Networking sessions: Do you want to get started on a crossborder investigation? We have planned some sessions to kickstart potential crossborder networks on different topics. If you have ideas, don’t hesitate to contact us! Networks can start at Dataharvest Digital and continue their work on our collaboration platform, based on Discourse.

A learning experience: Dataharvest is the place to learn data skills on all levels. The devoted data trainers have put their heads together and come up with a plan for data learning in the afternoon during several weeks – find your headset and get ready to learn!

The Belgian beer after hours – well, that is the most difficult thing to take online. But we will meet for some more relaxed sessions to discuss and share experience, and you are encouraged to bring a drink (coffee is also okay 😊) – more on that to come!

Stay tuned – we are working frantically to finish the program and will publish the first version on Monday August 10!

See you online for Dataharvest Digital! Register here!

Best regards,
The Dataharvest team

Would you like to participate in Dataharvest Digital, but don’t really have the money? If you are from Central, Eastern or Southeastern Europe, you may be in luck: We have grants that cover your participation fee. Apply and join the fun!

We have 200 grants to give out, and we will distribute them between as many countries as possible. We also strive for balance between young and experienced journalists, male and female, with and without cross-border experience.

Apply here


Did you buy a ticket for the 2020 Dataharvest conference in Mechelen? The conference has now changed to an online event, and you have 3 options for your ticket:

  • Change your ticket to a gift card/value voucher that you can use for Dataharvest Digital in September-November 2020 or for the Dataharvest conference in Mechelen in May 2021.
  • Cancel your ticket and make a donation of your choice to help us through the coming months.
  • Cancel your ticket and get the full amount back.

Please act before August 15! After that date, the conference will be closed, while we focus on Dataharvest Digital.

Your support is important to us. When you choose a gift card or to give a donation, it shows our donors that the community around Dataharvest values the  conference and the work done there, and that helps us make sure we can  come back with an even better Dataharvest every year. So if you decide to make a donation for us, we are more than grateful!

To cancel or change your ticket, use the link in the confirmation email you received upon registration. It will look something like this, where the Xs are your order number. Scroll to the button for the cancellation options (this will also take you to the options of changing to a gift card/value voucher). If you have paid with a bank transfer, have problems or questions, please contact  

See you online – and in Mechelen in May 2021!

Or: Why we decided to claim a fee for an online conference

Dataharvest – the European Investigative Journalism Conference 2020 – is going online because of the coronavirus and is now Dataharvest Digital 2020. We hope that the investigative journalism community will join us on these unknown waters!

We do this at a time, when many conferences move from real life to digital meeting places, and some do it for free. At Arena, we have considered carefully how to go about participation fees for an online conference: Should participation be free or for a fee?

We have decided on a participation fee – for several reasons:

  • Because training and knowledge sharing are valuable. We do not want to depreciate the fabulous gifts by our speakers and trainers by giving their contribution away for free.
  • Many on the investigative and data journalism community are freelancers and cross-fund their journalism by teaching and training. We don’t want to undermine their possibilities by giving away training for free.
  • In some countries, mid-career training is a functioning infrastructure, for example supported by labour agreements between journalists’ and publishers’ associations. We do not want to endanger these well-working systems.
  • The underlying concern is, of course, how publishers gave away online news in the 90ies in the quest for clicks. We have seen the decade-long struggle to ensure funding for good journalism after that move. We do not want to repeat that mistake.

Still, we want to make Dataharvest Digital accessible for all. The fee is much lower than the usual conference fee, there are no travel and hotel costs and the program is flexible over several months. We have reduced fees for freelancers and students, and we have managed to fundraise for participation stipends for colleagues from countries in Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe.

The fees will be:EmployeesFreelancers/Students
Full conference€90€60
2 months€75€45
1 month€40€25

Like the Dataharvest Digital itself, the participation fee is an experiment. Please comment on our choices – we will gather all comments and include them in our evaluation. All feedback on practicalities, presentations or principles is important, because we hope to use the experience from the Dataharvest Digital 2020 to learn for future digital networking between the real-life conferences.

Inviting a lot of precious colleagues is a pleasure. Particularly since we all are craving for contact with peers and pals, to chat without a screen between us or to just have a cup of coffee or a good old Belgian beer.

Still, we have decided to turn Dataharvest – the European Investigative Journalism Conference 2020 into a digital gathering altogether. And we are going to make the best of it: we will distribute as much of the conference as possible over three months from September to November 2020. We will offer trainings, workshops, network meetings, individual advice as well as a social gatherings online.

Welcome to Dataharvest Digital 2020!

The reason is obvious. In the efforts to limit COVID-19, two activities are considered particularly dangerous: large gatherings and interregional/international travel. Both apply to the in-person meeting at Dataharvest, a meeting we all were looking forward to, but which is highly insecure.

The path forward is trying out new formats, that will allow us to offer the professional knowledge-sharing and training as well as some of the networking that happens at the real-life conferences. Over the years, the feedback from participants has given us great inspiration, though two points have given recurring criticism – the quality of the conference coffee and the fact that we had too many parallel sessions which made it difficult to choose. This year, we will distribute the sessions over three months for everybody to choose a good moment, and the coffee quality is all up to you yourself.

We have also decided that the digital conference will not be offered free of charge. Our speakers and trainers are top journalists and lecturers donating their time to the community; digital meeting spaces cost money and organising a series of high quality presentations and trainings takes lots of time and work. You can join in for one, two or three months and a discount price for students and freelancers. Furthermore, we have been able to obtain participation grants for colleagues from Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe. Read more on fees

When the coronavirus restrictions were introduced, many had already registered for Dataharvest – the European Investigative Journalism Conference in Mechelen. Registered participants can to get a voucher for the value of their ticket to use for the 2021 conference, get a full refund or make a full or partial donation to run the conference 2020 and prepare the conference 2021 (if you registered, further instructions will be in your mailbox later today).

We are grateful to all our speakers and trainers donating their time for the online programme. And we are grateful to all our funders for allowing us to adjust to the coronavirus situation.

Now we are looking forward to meet good colleagues for the Dataharvest Digital 2020 from September to November! Ticket sales begin this week, the preliminary program will be published August 10th at the latest.

Let’s make the very best of this and see if we can use this extraordinary situation to develop new ways of networking for journalists – this just may be the moment for developing something new and useful for the future!

Until soon!

The Arena conference team

Thank you for your work on the quiz questions – some were more difficult than they looked! Several hundred took a look at the quiz; in the end, we had to draw lots between a Belgian and a German contestant with 100 per cent correct answers, and we have a winner:

Claudia Jentsch gets a free masterclass at the next Dataharvest conference! Congratulations!

Here are the correct answers:

1.) Please find a chronological list of the heads of state of the USA.

You can find a lot of these lists, but the first hand source is The White House. Library of Congress  is also a credible source.

2.) What was the cargo of this railroad car when the photo was taken?

The railroad car is carrying trichlorosilan – which can be found by searching for the orange numbers on the sign on the side. They refer to the United Nations ADR treaty, that regulates transport of dangerous goods and give all dangerous substances a 4-digit number.

3.) Which company operates the copiers at the University of Applied Sciences (HAW) in Hamburg?

That was a tricky one! To find the answer, you have to search Tenders Electronic Daily to find the original tender for the university copiers. In that you will find different facts to use as your next search terms, for example the number of the tender: 2015/S 137-252970. Searching for that you will find that the contract was won by Ricoh Deutschland GmbH.

Yes, there are also public copy shops on the campus for the students to use, and they are run by the Elbe Werkstätte and Sönke Kruse GbR.

4.) The Internet company Yahoo has scanned the accounts of its users on behalf of US secret services. So what did Edward Snowden recommend via Twitter?

Snowden recommended to close Yahoo accounts in protest. The full tweet was “Use @Yahoo? They secretly scanned everything you ever wrote, far beyond what law requires. Close your account today.”

5.) Who is depicted here, and where does this statue stand?

The statue depicts Albania’s national hero Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg, and it is placed in Peshkopi, Albania, which can be found by a reverse picture search. The goat helmet also led some to the answer. The metadata in the picture says that it is Djengis Khan, but this guy doesn’t look very Mongolian, does he? Metadata can be faked too.

Thank you to all who participated – and to Albrecht Ude in Berlin, who crafted these conundrums.