The EBU's Investigative Journalism Network started as a pilot project in 2017 and has grown rapidly over the past 12 months. It's a key part of the EBU's Public Service Journalism Initiative.
With the increasing challenges of the digital age it is more important than ever that public service media safeguards its reputation as a source of ethical and distinctive reporting, accessible to the public at large. Investigative journalism is a clear dividend of society’s investment in public service media.
As well as formally welcoming the BBC to the group, the recent meeting of the steering committee at Prix Italia in Capri was a good opportunity for the members to recognise progress made and to outline ambitious plans for the future.
The group heard how work by Swedish Radio and ZDF in Germany has uncovered a clear link in social media between the Stockholm truck attacker and an international Jihadi financier wanted by Interpol.
DR in Denmark uncovered a network of value added tax fraud used to finance terror, and DR together with SR revealed how Turkish dissidents are being targeted by their own government in Scandinavian countries.
There are two strands to the network. The first is a set of project groups where reporters from EBU Members work together to research specific topics. A first group is in place which includes among others SR, ZDF, YLE, DR, VRT, NPO and the BBC. The EBU and the governing steering Committee warmly encourage the formation of further project groups.
The second strand is a network of investigative reporters. The group now has 26 investigative journalists on stand-by across Europe to respond to tip-offs from their colleagues, putting their own network of contacts at the disposal of other members. The intention is to expand this network, giving the EBU an unparalleled resource to quickly source information on the stories that matter. The potential is obvious.
Among the group there is a strong commitment to investigative journalism as a core principle of public service broadcasting. With that in mind, the network presents obvious synergies.
As Riita Pihlajamaki of YLE put it, "This cooperation gives us greater possibilities and opportunities to do bigger things together".
According to Olle Zachrison of Swedish Radio, who’s also chairing the Steering Committee; "There is going to be a day, and I hope it is going to be soon, where one of the companies is going to have a big leak with international dimensions and we can really use this structure that we are putting in place now".
There is also a clear view that the project will play an important role ahead of next year’s European elections. It's a point echoed by Marc Josten, of Dutch Member NPO, "We can bring our focus on the topics Europe is begging for now. In front of those elections we need to gather the great European stories.”
The network is open to all EBU Members, subject to prior approval by the EIPN Steering Committee. Eligible members must meet the criteria defined by the Steering Committee, which includes adhering to the EBU’s Core Values of Public Service Media and having demonstrable investigative journalism expertise.
The Steering Committee (below) meets again in Edinburgh at the upcoming News Assembly/News Xchange event.
Back Row: Ray Colgan (EBU), James Stephenson (BBC), Olle Zachrison (SR), Riita Pihlajamaki (YLE), Elmar Thevessen (ZDF), Daniel Ohman (SR) Front Row: Ruurd Bierman (EBU), Jean-Pierre Jacqmin (RTBF), Pascal Seynhaeve (VRT)