In this article, written for the 2021 World Press Freedom Day, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project lauds all those investigative journalists across the world who have “given corrupt governments something to fear”. The increasing levels of harassment, intimidation, incarceration and censorship these journalists face is a sure sign that people who have something to hide are very worried.
On this World Press Freedom Day, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) stands with all members of the media who face threats for doing their jobs.
With increasingly authoritarian governments going to new lengths to silence critics, reporters across our global network and beyond face intimidation, smear campaigns, and censorship. Covid-19 exacerbated these trends, as governments moved to take greater control over public information. Independent journalism is now “completely or partially blocked” in more than 130 countries according to the Reporters Without Borders 2021 World Press Freedom Index.
These developments make one thing clear: Investigative reporting has given corrupt governments something to fear.
“A main reason for this harsh crackdown is that investigative journalism has gotten so good at exposing autocrats’ criminal and corrupt activities,” said OCCRP publisher Drew Sullivan. “We are experiencing a ‘golden age’ of investigative reporting, with phenomenal tools and cross-border collaborations that deliver truthful information to the public and empowers them to make decisions based on facts.”
Across the globe, reporters are using tools like open source satellite imagery for discovery and analysis. More data in different languages is online, and media outlets around the world are helping each other access and interpret it. A robust spirit of collaboration has taken hold across the industry, motivated by the far-reaching impact we have seen from joint investigations spanning continents.
And in some of the world’s most repressive countries, like Turkmenistan and Russia, our teams are cultivating the next generation of reporters as we partner with local journalists on stories.
By exposing systemic problems, investigative reporting is also fuelling public demand for accountability and strengthening advocates and policymakers’ ability to push for change. “Cross-border reporting arms civil society with information needed to achieve consequential policy reforms, like beneficial ownership legislation, and to push for accountability through the use of tools like Global Magnitsky sanctions,” said OCCRP’s Chief of Global Partnerships and Policy Camille Eiss.
On this day and every day, we are inspired by our fearless team and partners who report the truth for the public good. And we’re grateful to those who have stepped up to defend and support independent journalism and freedom of expression.