Iceland May Offer Safety from Libel Tourism

Iceland is poised to become a safe haven for investigative journalism. In a move that could counteract the United Kingdom’s libel tourism laws (see GIJN member Drew Sullivan’s report), Iceland’s parliament is considering a proposal that would include source protection and free speech.  The legislation, known as the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, was drafted with input from Wikileaks, according to an account published by Neiman Journalism Lab. The country has had experience with libel tourism. More than five years ago, Hannes Gissurarson — a professor of political science at the University of Iceland — was sued in Britain after making disparaging remarks about Jon Olafsson, an Icelandic businessman, during a 1999 speech, according to an article in the London Times. Extracts of the speech were posted on the university’s Web site, and in 2003, Olafsson sued, claiming that his reputation in Britain had been damaged by the professor’s remarks.

ARIJ launches investigative reporting manual at conference

Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ) hosts its second regional conference Nov. 20 through 22 in Amman. Presented in Arabic, English and French, with simultaneous translation, the conference will offer training sessions in investigating climate change, tracking corruption, advanced writing and interviewing techniques, conducting investigations with limited resources and without freedom of information laws, and a computer-assisted reporting  workshop using special Arabic software adapted by ARIJ. The conference opens with ARIJ and UNESCO’s formal launch of ARIJ’s investigative reporting manual, “Story-Based Inquiry,” and culminates with an awards banquet. Last year’s ARIJ conference drew 220 delegates.

Libel tourism threatens journalists worldwide

A report by Drew Sullivan — a journalist, editor, and media development specialist with the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project — is generating buzz on the GIJ listserv and is essential reading for journalists worldwide. Sullivan’s report , written for the Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA), explains how lawsuits can force media organizations to censor themselves or limit the distribution of their news content, restricting freedom of expression and thus threatening one of the foundations of democracy. As Sullivan said in a post on our listserv: “If you are a journalist in Switzerland or South Africa or Indonesia and think this doesn’t affect you, you are wrong. The UK courts allow pretty much anyone to sue you there. And because of English law, plaintiffs win 93 percent of all cases. When you lose, you are forced to pay your lawyers’ fees AND double the plaintiff’s lawyers fees.”

This practice, known as “libel tourism,” has become the tool of organized crime, corrupt politicians, American celebrities, and Saudi terror financiers, Sullivan said.

Crowdsourcing in investigative journalism

13. oktober 2010 17:06

[This is the first of a new GIJN feature on investigative techniques.]

By Nils Mulvad

Crowdsourcing is normally regarded as defined in 2006. Jeff Howe is often credited with the term “crowdsourcing” in a Wired article of June 2006, entitled “The Rise of Crowd sourcing”. Wikipedia defines it as: “Crowdsourcing is a neologistic compound of Crowd and Outsourcing for the act of taking tasks traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, and outsourcing them to a group of people or community, through an “open call” to a large group of people (a crowd) asking for contributions.”

Poynter has defined crowdsourcing in journalism as: “Crowdsourcing is taking a task traditionally accomplished by a professional journalist and includes outsourcing to a large group through an open call. Members of the public might be asked to gather information, use their expertise to examine documents, or participate in other ways.”The main task is to get non-specialists to participate in the journalistic process.

Ides Debruyne called for emancipated journalists

6. oktober 2010 17:41

In a recent article featured on, Ides Debruyne, director of the Pascal Decroos Fund, argues that journalists should be emancipated from their media organizations and become entrepreneurs. Debruyne argues this in light of the changing climate of the news media and the public political movements in Western Europe.

Book on investigative reporting in China published

11. oktober 2010 22:01

The China Media Project has published “Investigative Journalism in China,” which is available from

It has an introduction by veteran investigative journalist Ying Chan,who is at the Journalism and Media Studies Center at Hong Kong University. Here is the editors’ summary of the book:

“Despite persistent pressure from state censors and other tools of political control, investigative journalism has flourished in China over the last decade. This volume offers a comprehensive, first-hand look at investigative journalism in China, including insider accounts from reporters behind some of China’s top stories in recent years. While many outsiders hold on to the stereotype of Chinese journalists as docile, subservient Party hacks, a number of brave Chinese reporters have exposed corruption and official misconduct with striking ingenuity and often at considerable personal sacrifice.

Funding the future discussed at GIJN Conference

26. april 2010 21:32

Event Date:

Thu, 2010-04-22 00 – Sun, 2010-04-25 00

Stephen Engelberg, managing editor of ProPublica, discussed financing the future of investigative journalism in the keynote address on Day Three of the Global Investigative Journalism Conference in Geneva. He was joined by David Kaplan of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalism and the Center for the Public Integrity. Mark Schapiro, of the Center for Investigative Reporting was not able to attend and Brant Houston, who coordinates the Investigative News Network, replaced Schapiro on the panel. Margo Smit, director at Vereniging van Onderzoeksjournalisten (VVOJ) – of the Dutch-Flemish Association of Investigative Journalists – moderated.