Photo: Christina Victoria Craft

Doctors on four continents, supported by US Christian right activists, are providing women with “dangerous” and unproven treatments that claim to ‘reverse’ medical abortions. This was proven in late March by reporters from OpenDemocracy.

How did they research such a personal and delicate matter? And how big is this problem in Europe? Find out in the second Dataharvest Pop-Up, taking place on April 21 at 2 pm CET.

Register here!

Undercover reporters contacted a hotline run by US Christian right activists and were connected to local doctors in their own countries who were willing to prescribe so-called ‘abortion pill reversal’ by phone or email.

‘Abortion pill reversal’ (APR) involves taking high doses of progesterone, a hormone, following the first of two pills used for a medical abortion. Health experts say it is unlikely to ‘reverse’ a medical abortion, and there are also concerns about using progesterone (in itself not dangerous) for this ‘treatment’. A US medical trial into APR was halted in 2019 after some participants were sent to hospital with severe haemorrhaging. The trial’s lead researcher said it was stopped because “It wasn’t safe for me to expose women to this treatment.” 

However, the US hotline connected reporters to local doctors who were willing to provide prescriptions in 12 countries, in Europe and beyond. Only in two countries  were local contacts unwilling to help women take this ‘treatment’, calling it unproven and possibly unsafe.

Join us for a session with Claire Provost, Tatev Hovhannisyan and Zeynep Sentek to learn how they followed the lead from the US hotline to specific countries and doctors around the world. They will share tips on how to go undercover while reporting (including how to prepare a good cover story), and how to combine this method with a data-driven investigation approach.

In the past, openDemocracy revealed Heartbeat’s links to anti-abortion projects around the world that use misinformation in their efforts to discourage women from ending pregnancies under any circumstances and established that groups linked to US Christian right groups have poured millions of dollars into activities of conservative groups globally, for example groups fighting LGBTQ rights.

Register here!

INSTANT INSPIRATION is a new concept at Dataharvest 2021 – an investigation that you can use for inspiration or just plainly copy in your own country. First, we follow the journeys that our clothes make – both the used clothes donated to charity and the clothes bought online and then returned to the vendors. Finnish reporters Minna Knus-Galán and Jessica Stolzmann followed the clothes with hidden gps trackers, and their findings were not pretty.

Minna Knus-Galán checking used clothed that go into a secretive global business. Photo: Jouni Soikkeli

Minna Knus-Galán tracked 6 pieces of used clothes, given to charity organisations, presumably with the expectation of helping the poor or recycling textile to new material. Most of the clothes were worn out, even ragged. All 6 pieces went abroad from Finland, and as the trackers beeped away, the reporters proved that we outsource a waste problem to Africa and Asia, and that used clothes are a secretive, global business.

The final destination of our used clothes is not known to experts or even the charity organisations themselves. 

“Oops! That didn’t go according to our script”, the director of Fida, one of the biggest charity organisation in Finland commented. “Our clothes are supposed to stay in Europe. I’m really sorry the sweater went all the way to Nigeria.” 

After the publication, Fida terminated its agreement with some of its partners in Europe in order to secure that the clothes don’t travel outside Europe.   

Too big, too small, wrong colour – Jessica Stolzmann checked where returned clothes from online stores end up.

Jessica Stolzmann followed what happens to the clothes that we buy online and send back. Online shopping has increased during the pandemic and so has serial returners, people who buy items and then return them. The reporters used trackers to find out that many of our returned clothes travel many extra miles to countries like Estonia where a large industry has been built up to handle and repack returned clothes.

Sometimes the clothes cannot be sold again, and the reporters could follow the returned clothes to Iraq where they were sold or ended up in a garbage dump – again exporting the European waste problem to other parts of the world.

What did the reporters learn? Which conclusions could they draw, and what happened afterwards? And how can you use their ideas and experiences for your own investigations? This is what Instant Inspiration is all about! Come and meet Minna Knus-Galán and Jessica Stolzmann in the very first on Wednesday May 19 at 17 pm CET.

See Jessica Stolzmann’s web story (in Swedish, but easy to understand by following the pictures)

See Minna Knus-Galán’s tv program (English subtitles can be activated)

Buy your ticket for Dataharvest – the European Investigative Journalism conference

The program for Dataharvest 2021 has just been published!

The 2021 conference will be an online event again – and we will meet for 3 weeks of conference and data skills training, followed by a number of masterclasses during the autumn months.

The conference weeks have overall themes: 1) Investigative methods, 2) Data journalism and 3) Crossborder journalism. These themes of course overlap, but they still define a focus for the discussions. Come and join in!

Every conference day has the same structure (except the last):

  • At 10 am we start out with a “Morning booster” – a short session, introducing a specific tool or area of knowledge. These session will last from 30-50 minutes.
  • At 11, we have the main session of the day, sharing experiences and working methods from recent investigations.
  • At 2 pm, a data skills-oriented session begins, typically a demonstration rather than hands-on. You will learn tools and get inspiration to your work on data sets.
  • At 5 pm, you are invited to an interactive session, where you are invited to participate with your thoughts and experiences. A “data sprint“ continues from week to week, and there are sessions called “Instant inspiration” where you can hear about an investigation and learn how you can make something similar in your own country.

And the very last day, on Wednesday June 3, we are proud to present a partnership with the European Press Prize, that will announce the winners of the annual prize at the Dataharvest Conference. The award ceremony will be in the late morning, after which the winners will present their projects. Save the date!

And the “grande finale” of Dataharvest 2021 is laid in the able hands of Quiztime, the international research group that posts an OSINT conundrum every day on Twitter. Can you find the answers to their questions? Find other Dataharvest participants from your city or country, get together physically or online and test yourselves against other groups!

After the summer holiday, we meet again for at least 5 masterclasses (more may be planned as we move along). Here you can go into more depth with different tools and areas. They will be:

We look forward to seeing you at Dataharvest 2021! Your ticket covers both conference and master classes – buy it here!

Would you like to participate in Dataharvest – but you don’t really have the money? If you are from Eastern Europe or Russia, you may be in luck: We have a number of participation grants to give out, thanks to the Norwegian foundation Frit Ord (Free Words)!

We will distribute the grants 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

Where did the idea for a great cross-border investigation come from? How did the reporters accomplish their results? Which challenges did they meet on the way? In sessions under the label “The making of…”, Dataharvest will over the coming months invite you to meet the reporters behind a story and hear them present a cross-section of the work from idea to publication.

These sessions will hopefully inspire you for your own work – and give you a chance to follow the developments of investigations across Europe, even if we are all tied down by our keyboards for a few more months.

The first session is next week! On Wednesday March 22, Maxime Vaudano, Jérémie Baruch and Maxime Ferrer from Le Monde will share how they got and analysed the data for OpenLux, an investigation conducted by Le Monde along with ten media partners about the tax haven in the heart of Europe: Luxembourg.

Following “The making of…” sessions will be on April 14 at 2 pm, May 5 at 10 am, June 16 at 2 pm, September 22 at 10 am, October 13 at 2 pm, November 24 at 10 am, and December 9 at 2 pm.

The sessions will be free of charge, and you register for them here.

Do you know of a great investigation that should be highlighted in a session? Please get in touch with us!

Maxime Vaudano

Jérémie Baruch

Our series of Dataharvest Pop-Ups opens with the OpenLux investigation that put pressure on Luxembourg, a tax haven in the heart of Europe.

The tiny state of Luxembourg is the world’s second-biggest destination for foreign capital, thanks to the opacity of its financial systems. In 2018, the country created a database that would reveal the ultimate beneficial owners of all the companies registered therein. However, the database is not searchable by the owners’ names, which made it much harder to determine beneficial owners. 

But a team from the French newspaper Le Monde managed to scrape the registry’s website and obtain 3.3 million documents, covering hundreds of thousands of companies based in Luxembourg. With a help of their international media partners, Le Monde’s team dug deeper into the people who are benefiting from the companies and explored weaknesses in anti-money laundering frameworks in Luxembourg and the EU.

Maxime Vaudano, Jérémie Baruch and Maxime Ferrer from Le Monde will share with us the making of Open Lux, explain to us how they’ve managed to analyse the documents and identify people of interest in the datasets and cross-check them.

Join us for the first Dataharvest Pop-Up session on March 24, 10.00 CET. Register here.

Register for the main program of Dataharvest 2021 here:


We are very happy that the European Press Prize has decided to partner with Arena for Journalism in Europe and the Dataharvest Conference when they announce the winners of the 2020 awards. This will constitute the main part of the last day of Dataharvest – Thursday June 3.

The European Press Prize gives out 4 prizes:

  1. The Investigative Reporting Award
  2. The Distinguished Reporting Award
  3. The Opinion Award
  4. The Innovation Award 

In some years, the jury also decides to give out a “Special Award” for particular excellence in editing or any other discipline, including reporting, feature writing and advocacy.

The winners will be announced in the first session of the day and in the following hours will tell, how the investigations or stories were made.

Dataharvest is not just a productive journalistic get-together. It is now also the subject for academic studies, done by German Annett Heft from Freie Universität in Berlin and published in the latest edition of the journal Journalism Studies. Her aim was to see how and why journalistic collaboration sprang up from the ground outside of the big networks – and did so by asking Dataharvest participants and Hostwriter members.

Heft’s study asks why journalists choose to collaborate, how they do it and which advantages and challenges they see. She concludes that “bottom-up collaborations contribute to a normalization of the practice through small-scale, less institutionalized, and less binding forms that enable a gradual transition towards a new mindset in the broader field”, and says about Dataharvest and Hostwriter: The “pioneering platforms foster a developing network of open-minded and multicultural practitioners.”

Read the full report here

We have to face it, though with a heavy heart: There is no responsible way to have a European gathering in May 2021. The vaccines will not be fully rolled out yet, and travel may still be restricted. So we have taken the difficult decision to take Dataharvest 2021 online.

What is the main characteristics of Dataharvest? For us, the keywords are networking, sharing of experiences, inspiration, learning from each other. All that is possible online. Of course, another very important characteristic is “coming together”. That, alas, will have to wait util 2022 (but what a conference we will have then!).

Until then, we hope that you will join us online for presentations of new investigations, new data skills training and for a 3-week online conference in late May-early June. Let’s keep networking and collaborating around new investigations to present and discuss, once we can meet again.

Do you have ideas for the online conference? Things you need to learn, people you would like to hear? Tell us about it!

Arena and Dataharvest will have a series of online meetings and training opportunities from March to June. The detailed program will be ready around March 1 – please follow the website, our Twitter account and the Dataharvest Facebook Group to stay informed!

Happy New Year – more Dataharvest is coming your way! And this marks a new start for Arena for Journalism in Europe!

Are you going to set up a new team for a cross-border investigation? Reality probably is, that you don’t have a big newsroom or big money behind you – but you know that you need to agree on digital security procedures and use safe tools. How do you do it, which software do you choose? On Tuesday January 12 at 10 am, get advice and tools from Arena’s IT manager Benedikt Hebeisen – for free!

The session is going to give you a toolbox. We’ll discuss which tools you can use for your daily work, how you can share your results and investigations with your colleagues, and which tools you can use for communication – of course with a focus on privacy and security.

The link to join the session will be published in the Dataharvest Facebook Group and on Twitter one hour before the session.

This session was postponed in November. Now instead, it marks the beginning of a new initiative from Arena for Journalism in Europe: We will regularly offer pop-up sessions where you can learn tools and techniques for your journalism and collaborations. More online activities will follow to supplement the Dataharvest conference. Join the Dataharvest Facebook Group or follow us on Twitter to stay updated!