Minutes of the Global Investigative Journalism Network meetings

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Minutes of the Global Investigative Journalism Network meeting at the Global Investigative Journalism Conference in Kiev Ukraine on October 14th and 15th of 2011.

The meeting on October 14th was chaired by Nils Mulvad/Denmark

The meeting on October 15th was chaired by Brant Houston/USA

Both day’s minutes were made by Brigitte Alfter/Denmark-Germany


THIS IS THE EDITED VERSION including comments on a regional conference in Istanbul and two additional members to the volunteercommittee as well as adjustment of name spellings. B.A. , Copenhagen November 12th 2011.

Minutes from October 14th, 2011:  

Nils Mulvad/Denmark opened the meeting and introduced the agenda.

In 2003 the GIJN went from having a background group of advisors into a formal global network. He said this is a loose network for non-profits for investigative journalism or computer assisted journalism. It is not the idea that media are members. We accept that also there are member organizations in countries, where organizations are under formation but not formally in existence.

Nils said: What we need to cover during this meeting:

1) Next global conference

2) New structure of the network – now working for 10 years, demand for some more structure

3) Coming conferences

4) Election of voluntary group to run network between conferences

Nils thanked Henrik Kaufholz for his work on the conference along witho Oleg and all the others in the group.

1) The next global conference

Brant Houston/USA:

The good news is, that Abraji/Brazil is willing to do the next global conference in 2013 in July in conjunction with their conference and a Latin American conference. Abraji has been a member since the GIJN was formed. For their national conference this year they had 800 participants. The Abraji team is already working on the idea, securing hotel rooms in Rio de Janeiro, this sets a stage for thinking about new conferences. We can start taking ideas for speakers.

Jan Gunnar Furuly / Norway, Heidi Molstad / Norway and Mark Hunter / USA-France expressed concerns about the choice of July. This is summer holiday time for many European families, which will make prices high and availability low. Also the collision with other big conferences like the IRE conference are mentioned, and February to May and September to November were pointed out as the best months. 

Brant suggests early bookings of hotel rooms and flights and said he would take the concerns to Abraji.
Stephen Grey / United Kingdom mentioned concerns about obtaining visa for Brazil.

Henrik Kaufholz/Denmark mentions, that visa can be difficult for some people in many countries.
Gavin McFadyen / USA-United Kingdom raised the question of funding, and whether we would allow government funding.

Brant mentions the GIJC tradition of delegating this task to the host country organization. Both Jan Gunnar, Jean-Philippe Ceppi/Switzerland and Susanne Reber/Canada (all former GIJC organisors) mention, that they indeed did accept government support for certain tasks like stipends for participants from certain parts of the world. Nils mentions, that we do not have uniform rules on whom we can take money from. Bruce Shapiro/USA praises Abrajis huge integrity.

Nils confirms the decision to choose Abraji and Rio de Janeiro in 2013 as the host for the next Global Investigative Journalism conference.
2) A new structure for the Global Investigative Journalism Network?

David Kaplan presented the idea of a Global Centre for Investigative Journalism:

We’ve talked about having a secretariat and being reluctant, but we are growing bigger, I think we need a new structure. We have done well, this group has made a difference, these conferences are really extraordinary. What we have done is great, but we can do more. I’ve been on the steering committee, there is no funding, people have other things to do. I left recently as director of ICIJ, I’ve been thinking about how I still can contribute. I have talked a lot with a lot of people in close cooperation with Brant. I would like to suggest a Global Investigative Journalism Centre. The steering committee can help connect,

give some structure to this thing, the ABRAJI conference would be on the top of the list.

David Kaplan further detailed, that he wanted this global centre to be “a central hub” and a “nerve centre”. He also suggested a website, high tech platforms to link journalists together, to share tools, data, funding .He emphasized, that the structure should be “very collaborative” rather than replicating, what already has been developed.

David also emphasized his own experience within the investigative journalism community, where he initially worked for the Center for Investigative Reporting in California and more recently has functioned as trainer for the IRE in the US and the OCCRP in Sarajevo/Washington.

David has received seed funding from the Open Society Foundation and the Dutch Adessium foundation “to draft a budget” for such a Global Investigative Journalism Centre.

David Kaplan addressed concerns of funding being scarce, and that he intended to go looking for funders in Europe and in the Silicon Valley.

He intends to build an editorial lab with cutting edge technology, where he is not trying to compete with others, but follows the collaborative model of the INN of non-profit investigative journalism centres in the US.

Another concern he heard was, that he was an American, which he said he could not help.

Nils Mulvad suggested to discuss whether the Global Investigative Journalism Network should move from having a voluntary group between conferences and local organizers to having a secretariat and then to discuss, whom to accept funding from.
Jan Gunnar Furuly asks, whether the secretariat should have an advisory modus and at the end leave decisions to the national organization, that is in charge of the conference.

David clarifies, that the secretariat is there to support the national conference organizers and to create “an institutional memory” about practical matters like visa applications, fundraising and who are the best speakers.
Stephen Grey says that ifthe GIJN wants to create a new institution, it should decide to do that, create a steering group and then hire the best person. Jean Philippe Ceppi supports the idea of a support structure for the conference organizers, yet he considers the fact, that it’s supposed to be US based as a problem. The organizers must be free “to do their own thing.”

Mark Hunter suggests to move the secretariat around the world and to include this in the future plans of this project. He supports the need for an “institutional memory” and for IP rights. But he considers it impossible to make a decision on the practical issues this year.

Henrik Kaufholz remarks, that donors like a fixed structure.

Nils Mulvad suggests, that we should now decide in favour of this new structure and later decide where the secretariat should be rather than now being scared about minor things.

Ides Debruyne suggests to start by a list of tasks and priorities for this administrative structure.

Bruce Shapiro argues, that we after 10 years have reached a level, where we have to change the structure, if we wish to continue growing.

An unidentified female participant (???) suggests to create a rotating structure with a change every five years in a different country. Nils Mulvad says, that the voluntary group should discuss this. Drew Sullivan strongly supports the idea, he has done so since the beginning, and he believes that David Kaplan is the right person to do it. It is an entrepreneurial enterprise, and someone needs to push it. Brigitte Alfter asks, what exactly David envisages in his global centre besides the secretariat for the global network.
David Kaplan says, that he wants a design, where everything fits, including microfinancing for journalists in developing countries, links to the non-profit centres in the world, and that there lacks a hub for all the investigative journalism networks. “I’m going to create the global centre – and I’m asking the endorsement of the Global network that I get going with this global centre.”

Nils Mulvad mentions, that he has been coordinating the voluntary group for free, and that Brant has used the time of his students to maintain the website.
Gavin McFadyen does not want to oppose the idea but mentions concerns regarding the decision procedure. “We’re structuring this without democracy. I find this worrying as a tendency, it is incorrect for a large group.” He also raises the question of taking government money, as he argues this kind of money would come with strings attached.

Nils Mulvad and Brant Houston answer, that each member organization has a vote, and that minutes are being taken.

Stephen Grey supports David Kaplan’s enthusiasm, but suggests to make the process more clear. David could come back with options and proposals including governance by people, who are not involved.

Heidi Molstad Andersen suggests to explore more options of using the existing capacity in the network rather than building a bureaucracy around the conferences. She points out that many people would have been ready and capable to help, if they had been involved.

Jan Gunnar Furuly is concerned to say yes to create a bureaucracy without know the scale and budget. He shares Gavin’s concerns about decision making and suggests an unpaid advisory board to look more deeply into the matters.

Jean-Philippe Ceppi emphasizes, that for the Geneva conference in 2010 it was possible to fundraise because of the informal structure. If there had been an NGO in Washington, it would have been more difficult.

Anton Harber requests more clarity on how decisions are going to be made, about structure, funding and place.

Brant Houston suggests to let the volunteer group deal with the issues mentioned and come forward with a list of criteria to be decided upon and to show to possible funders.

Nils Mulvad sums up, that the volunteer group should negotiate with David Kaplan and get back to the Global Network that then can decide upon the drafts.

Bruce Shapiro suggests a two-part motion in order to decide the two questions about creating a global investigative journalism centre and one part about the decision making.

Gavin McFadyen emphasizes, that we must all agree.

Bruce Shapiros draft motion (as submitted by him to Brigitte Alfter by mail after the meeting):

1. This group accepts Dave Kaplan’s request that we accept his new global investigative journalism center as the network’s collaborator and partner in expanding our capacity, enhancing the network’s work and organizing conferences and other activities.

2. The network will create a small secretariat to both manage the collaboration and to examine our own governance, organization and other capacity-building issues, and make recommendations for steps


3) Coming conferences

Nils Mulvad then moved on to the subject of bids for coming conferences, including possibly regional conferences. He mentioned Germany and Egypt as interested players.

Tarjej ?? suggested topical conferences.

4) The voluntary group

Nils Mulvad then moved on to appointing members of the voluntary group.

Since the Geneva-conference it has consisted of Nils Mulvad, Brant Houston, David Kaplan, Mark Hunter, Rana Sabbagh, James Breiner, Justin Arenstein, Henrik Kaufholz and Brigitte Alfter. The group is ready to continue.

It was considered obvious that Fernando Rodriguez from Abrajii – as the organizer of the coming conference – should join the group.Further volunteers were Heidi Molstad, Margo Smit, Oleg Khomenok, Carlos Eduardo Huertas, Gavin McFadyen and Jan Gunnar Furuly.

Those were included by the meeting.
After the meeting Brigitte Alfter as the writer of the minutes was approached by further two volunteers:

Mark Horvit and Stefan Candea. Brigitte Alfter hereby includes those names in the minutes and will alert all, when sending the minutes.

2) A new structure

Jean Philippe Ceppi returned to the question of the new structure and suggests another meeting on this decision. “If David wants to work, he needs a real endorsement. We should really take the time and then go back to each our countries.”

Bruce Shapiro mentioned his two-part motion and the fact that the meeting did agree on a small

secretariat. At the end the group agreed on meeting again the following day.
3) Coming conferences

Drew Sullivan revisited the question of upcoming conferences. “We are proposing a regional conference in Istanbul late next year in cooperation with O’Reilly Media.” 

The decision on this subject was not clear to Brigitte Alfter, as people were leaving the room at this point. Upon mail request the following comment was submitted by Gavin McFadyen on November 1st 2011:

I support Drew’s call for a regional conference in Istanbul. It seems a good idea since it would potentially broaden the knowledge of journalists there, and there would be training possibilities which CIJ could actively assist.


Minutes from October 15th 2011:  

David Kaplan and Brant Houston sum up from the meeting of the previous day.

For clarification on questions about the decision procedure in the Global Investigative Journalism Network the “about” page as mentioned on http://www.gijn.org/about/ is shown on the overhead and distributed.

Brigitte Alfter reads up the text for the draft motion as submitted to her by Bruce Shapiro.

Jean-Philippe Ceppi sums up the concerns of the previous day: the US base, the setting up of a new structure etc. He suggests an interim structure, that then could be ratified or rejected at the next gatheringof the Global Investigative Journalism Network at the conference in Rio in 2013. “There should be a paper, that can be read, discussed and decided about – or rejected, which I do not hope. But discussed and amended.” He has drafted another resolution – which is distributed.

Draft resolution as passed around by Jean Philippe Ceppi:

1) The assembly of delegates in Kiev is endorsing the principle of a proper institution with a

permanent secretariat in order to support the network global activity.

2) The assembly of delegates in Kiev gives the mandate to the steering committee to work on a legal documentation for consultation and the setting up of an interim structure, to be ratified at the 2013 Conference, on the basis of a report of activities.


In the meantime, the interim structure can start its activities, including fundraising.

David Kaplan underlines, that he is very sensitive to any concerns, that he wants an open process and wishes full support. He likes the wording put forward by Jean Philippe Ceppi.

Upon a question he mentions, that the seed funding was given to him by the Open Society Foundation and Adessium in order to look into the networking around the world. He intends to address some of the largest donors in the world in the US and there get support for “this thing, we all build. This would be directly under the steering committee.”

Brant Houston says, that everything except the website has been done on voluntary basis, and that this structure could continue in principle.

Susanne Reber supports the idea to be able to call someone when you are the organiser of a conference. However she is reluctant to the entity being US based. These concerns should be discussed.

Sebastian Mondial suggests a moving structure moving key persons and/or continent every 2nd or 4th year – in order to allow renewal of methods and ways of doing things.

Jean Philippe Ceppi mentions, that indeed it may be easier to get funding in the US. If the secretariat would be considered the government, the conferences would be the parliament. Each two years we can decide to make another solution.

Anton Harber emphasises that the steering committee should be global in composition.

Stephen Grey suggests that all comments during the meetings should be gathered and taken into

consideration in the steering committee. After 6 months, a report should be submitted to everybody for consultation before further steps.

Brant Houston says, that the steering committee should be fully transparent, that it will be a good thing for the steering committee to have a date on when to return with the first report, and that actually steering committee is not the precise name. The steering committee consists of representatives of all organisations,whereas the voluntary group will be leading the process.

Jean Philippe drafts the first tasks of the volunteer group in that process. This would include to clarify the governance for the future, to deal with questions like the autonomy of the national organisationsorganising the conferences, surplus or lack of funding and so forth.

Karel Platteau requests adds to this to-do list a clarification of what the global centre intends to do: “Will it do journalism, will it facilitate grants, there should be a list of what it will do and what it will not do.” Those activities could then be ratified.

Brant also mentions, that the membership list and the representatives of member organisations has to be clarified.

Jean Philippe explains, that with his draft resolution, the activities would be able to start under the surveillance of the volunteer group in the spirit, that waiting 2 years to get started would be too long. But that everything should be done in full transparency.

Luuk Sengers requests more information about the planned fundraising.

David Kaplan promises full disclosure. He has 25.000 Dollars to explore advanced networking platforms and he is working with the Investigative News Network.

Brant and Jean Philippe suggest to vote on the resolution by Jean Philippe with friendly amendments on the following:

-Every 6 months there is sent a report to all members

-The term “steering committee”  is changed into “volunteer committee” 

-In 2013 a final report is presented for voting in Brasil.

Votes then are taken on:

Setting aside the suggestion of a resolution by Bruce Shapiro – UNANIMOUS

Taking on the amended proposal by Jean Philippe Ceppi -UNANIMOUS 

Click here to see a list of the member of the Voluntary Group


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