It’s over! Next week there is no Dataharvest Digital. Last night the final session said goodbye and see you – somewhere, somehow – in 2021!

It is almost sad for us at Arena – but at the same time we are happy and proud. We have had what Arena chairman Nils Hanson called “probably the longest investigative journalism conference ever”. 13 weeks of lectures, panels, presentations, demonstrations – a total of 149 sessions. And as opposed to a ‘normal’ Dataharvest conference, none of them were parallel – those who wanted to, could follow every single session of the conference.

The final number of participants was 593 – a record number, though we are hesitant to compare the online conference with the physical one. They were of 55 nationalities and lived in 53 different countries. And in spite of time zone differences we had participants from China and Kyrgyzstan as well as from the US and Latin America.

186 speakers volunteered their time to speak and discuss – thank you very much for that! Without that contribution, there would be no conference!

So what is ahead in 2021? We cannot say but will decide in January whether it is safe to have a physical conference in Mechelen or if we will be online again in 2021. In any case, we have learned a lot about meeting online, so we promise that there will be pop-up meetings and presentations online throughout the year 2021.

Online or IRL, we hope to present the best investigations, new and old data tools, tips and tricks to make your investigations better and your data skills more refined. Do you have ideas for the conference? Do you know a tool that you would like to present for others? Are there super-interesting investigations in your country that should be known to a wider public? Write your ideas in our call for proposals, and we will get back to you!

This year’s Dataharvest included a lot of data skills training. Our fantastic trainers have lifted the veil on spreadsheets analysis, cleaning data, explored caveats in visualizing data. We have asked basic questions – what is data, what does it look like and how to even start a data research? However, we have also challenged our participants with some programming – there was Python, R, SQL, regex and Neo4j. We have introduced some robust software for investigations such as Aleph and QGIS, but also simple tools to scrape websites or read PDFs. We have shown how to think as a data scientist, statistician, and open source researcher. But what now?

It’s time to find a project. Cementing the skills by putting them into practice. For the first time ever, Dataharvest offers you, on top of the skills training, also a possibility to practice these skills. In a so-called Data Sprint our participants will have the opportunity to collaborate with others and create their own stories.

Our participants will be working with the recently released European COVID-19 spending data by OCCRP in a cross-border teams of 3 to 4. There are many potential stories in those data – for many different countries and media. There are also quite some challenges in cleaning them!

We have 12 spots in this course! Do you want to secure one and make your own story together with others and under guidance of experienced data trainers? Write to and make space in your calendar as described here

If you register for one of the limited spaces on this mini-project, you commit to downloading and looking at the data before the first session, and so to joining that session with some ideas of what you would like to do with the data.

If more than 12 register for the data sprint, the participants will be selected to give the best representation of gender, countries and experience. Participants that have regularly attended the data sessions will get a priority. The participants will be informed about the selection on Friday 20th. 

Dataharvest 2020’s focus has been climate and energy. In early September, we zoomed in onto the networks of climate deniers, looked in fossil fuel subsidies across the EU and discussed the future of climate journalism. This upcoming week, we’ll learn more about how carbon credit frauds work, who the big energy lobbyists in Brussels and the UK are, and what climate-related stories we should follow next (check out the full schedule here).

We’re also very much looking forward to launching the Arena Climate Network – a community of investigative journalists and researchers working on topics related to climate change.

The Arena Climate Network’s aims

  • to follow the stories beyond national borders
  • to facilitate information flows between journalists covering climate at the local, national and EU level 
  • to tell impactful (and often under-reported) stories

Our network will provide its members with a forum-like tool enabling a multi-channel, non-hierarchical communication; an open-source, open-access knowledge base featuring relevant journalistic pieces, reports and databases, and the necessary secure collaborative space to share information and collaborate across borders.

Moreover, Arena for Journalism in Europe is a proud recipient of Digital Whistleblowing Fund grant (a project by Hermes Center for Transparency and Digital Human Rights and Renewable Freedom Foundation), supporting grassroot organisations to integrate a secure leak infrastructure to their online platforms. Through this platform, we will be able to receive, in a secure and private manner, leaks (information and documents) touching upon environmental wrongdoings, frauds in the energy sector and impacts of the climate crisis provided by whistleblowers from different countries.

Spread the word, follow the Arena Climate Network on Twitter, and get in touch with the network’s coordinator Jelena Prtoric ( if you want to know more!

Following things and materials between countries is a big part of crossborder journalism – and that is what this week is all about!

We begin tomorrow with OCCRP’s Dada Lyndell and Lawrence Marzouk teaching us how to track ships and planes and how it can be used in your investigations. After that, Knack’s Kristof Clerix and freelancer Staffan Dahllöf tell how they used international conventions and followed the paper trail to find illegal arms and pesticides.

On Wednesday, Cécile Schillis-Gallego from Forbidden Stories will show how she followed minerals from mines in Guatemala, Tanzania and India to the mobile phone in our pockets, and Ben Heubl will then teach you how to use open-source satellite images and tools to track illegal activities in the environment.

Thursday we have a double session on how reporters from Stern Magazine, ARD, BBC and Bellingcat followed European arms being exported illegally to the war in Libya. Hans-Martin Tillack, Philipp Grüll and Ben Strick takes you through the steps.

And finally, the Thursday bar: Which funny, strange or creative methods have you used in your research? Have you gotten results from gadgets used in a new way? Share your stories in the Thursday bar! Marcus Lindemann and Minna Knus-Galán get the discussion going at 5 pm!

Drawing: Pieter Fannes

The Dutch are the biggest national group in this year’s Dataharvest Digital. Then come Germany, United Kingdom and France – and then a surprise: The fifth biggest national group is Russia – a new big country in Dataharvest statistics! Welcome, friends, Добро пожаловать, дорогие друзья – it is so nice to see how investigative journalism is also gathering interest and momentum in Russia!

The Dataharvest participants are of course an international crowd. We have participants from Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, from Mexico and Costa Rica, from India and China. Many move around for work, studies or love – 1 in 6 live in another country than that of their nationality.

In these modern times, many do not give their gender – but of those who do, 48 per cent are women and 30 per cent are men. So a female majority this year?

Among the speakers there is gender equality – 50-50 of male and female. Well done, guys!

Finally, 52 per cent of us have full time jobs in media or other organisations. 42 per cent are freelancers – a typical status for investigative journalists and journalists as such in many countries. And 5 per cent are students, who hopefully via Dataharvest Digital get a head start into the profession.

Trans Alaska Pipeline

The climate crisis is probably the biggest story of our time – and climate and the energy sector’s role in climate change is the focus of this year’s Dataharvest. Two weeks are dedicated to the subject, and we begin on Tuesday September 15!

We have dedicated numerous sessions to different aspects of investigative, in-depth, data and cross-border coverage of the climate and energy sector. The second climate crisis week is in November.

We will be looking into the lobbying mechanisms and their impact on the European and the UK climate policies; we’ll track climate deniers across Europe and beyond; we’ll explore the world of the VAT fraudsters on the energy market and look into fraudulent carbon credits. Our speakers will share the methodology they employed in their investigations on fossil fuel subsidies, pension funds and open their databases to us. We’ll hear how big businesses sometimes benefit from green energy boost;  learn from experts who investigate shipping and aviation industry and find out why it’s so expensive and (politically) complicated to phase out of coal.

Data scientists from OECD, the European Environmental Agency and Copernicus (European Union’s Earth observation program) will sharethe data they have in store with us, explain how they collect it, where to find the relevant datasets and how to make the best use of them.

We have also prepared hands-on sessions during which you can learn how to track climate deniers on Twitter and during which you’ll be able to ask all the silly questions related to climate and energy you might have.  We hope you’ll get inspired by climate and energy reporting veterans who’ll discuss  what they’ve learnt while covering climate change, what are the topics to cover next and how to do it in a more constructive way.

You will find more sessions that can help you hone your reporting skills in the field of climate, energy and the environment outside of the two weeks dedicated solely to this topic. Join us in late September to learn how journalists used freedom of information requests to obtain documents about the ties between the Dutch government and Royal Dutch Shell; how one can get access to environmental information at the national and international level or how to track minerals; and come over to discuss possible ways to collaborate across borders in order to investigate investments in fossil fuels.

At Dataharvest 2020, we’ll also launch Arena’s Climate and Energy network that aims to enable a better cross-border coverage of climate and energy stories and facilitate information flows between journalists covering these topics at local and national levels. We believe that such collaborations ultimately lead to more relevant stories being published.

Join us for 13 weeks of online learning, networking and discussions – register here




Good mornings came in from Stockholm, Brussels, Amsterdam, Bucharest, Madrid, London, Aylesbury, Stari Grad, Berlin, Oslo, Ekaterinburg, Aarhus, Barcelona and more, when we opened Dataharvest Digital this morning. Plus from Belgium, Serbia, Kyrgyzstan, Bulgaria and Italy. Dataharvest Digital has taken off and had a good start (if we may say so ourselves).

Our tech wiz, Benedikt Hebeisen, of course made a data visualization of the cities (we know we didn’t get them all, but still…)

It’s tomorrow! We open at 10 am! This year, marked by Covid-19, Dataharvest, the European Investigative Journalism Conference, holds its 10th edition by becoming a fully digital conference: #Dataharvest2020!

Three months of training, talks, workshops and networking about all things data, investigative and collaborative journalism.

More than 120 sessions spread over 13 weeks from September to November 2020, where Europe’s top data and investigative journalists and trainers meet.

And we are happy to present the Dataharvest Digital 2020 Intro Video we will use to open those online sessions:

The video was created by Andrés Koeneke with music from the song “We Are Heading to the East”, by Springtide.

We like how in just a few seconds this video manages to embody much of what Dataharvest is about: ambition, energy and the drive to move forward and do good things together.

Dataharvest opens tomorrow morning at 10 am! See the full programme and register for the conference here.

Health has been a main global focus in the last months, and many journalists had to jump at warp speed into a complex field of investigative reporting. The corona crisis forced journalists worldwide to get on speed with medical jargon and a perfect storm of stats and models in a rather confusing news environment.

Dataharvest Digital is here to help! In the second week the theme is Public health, and with the support of experienced medical reporters and scientists we’ll give you the tools to understand how to independently assess the evidence, analyze government policies, spot inaccuracies thus avoid pitfalls, and dig deeper on tenders and procurements.

Training will be interlaced with what we know, based on the best available evidence, on Covid-19. And will provide hints for brand new investigations in the health sector. The week is organized and moderated by Italien-Swiss investigative and health reporter Serena Tinari.

See the program

Register for Dataharvest Digital

Robots write articles, select news, edit pictures. They research, they personalize our front pages and target them to the individual. How can we put robots – or artificial intelligence – to the best use and make sure that our ethical standards in journalism are still respected and maintained?

Andreas Marckmann Andreassen

Danish digital journalist Andreas Marckmann Andreassen has spent a year researching this, and his book “How automatization will change the media” hits the streets on September 14. It also hits the mail service, because it is considered so important that the Danish media industry funds that it will be distributed to all of 18,000 members of the Danish Journalists’ Union.

The book builds on Andreas’ international research and travel, including more than 70 interviews with media people, scholars and technologists – from New York Times to local media houses. An English version of the book will be published in 2021.

At Dataharvest Digital, Andreas will share his 9 principles for ethical automation. How do we safeguard journalistic ethics in automated journalism? How do we ensure transparency and avoid bias, how do we secure checks and balances in the system, and how do we take responsibility when it fails? Who needs to understand the system – and what about privacy?

Charlie Beckett

We are also proud to announce that the moderator of the session is professor Charlie Beckett of London School of Economics, founding director of Polis, the think-tank for research and debate around international journalism and society in the Department of Media and Communications at LSE.

The data journalism weeks begins on September 29 – register for Dataharvest Digital here! We open on Tuesday September 1!