The main obstacles in the way of journalists following the money across borders in order to investigate corruption and organized crime are the high costs of information and the lack of know-how when it comes to using foreign databases that contain crucial information for the investigation.
A new movement, a new alliance between research librarians and investigative journalists might be the answer to the problem.
About two years ago, in a chat about the Investigative Dashboard in Amman, Jordan Chuck Lewis, the founder of the Center for Public Integrity , mentioned he sees potential in the cooperation between research librarians and investigative journalists.
Research librarians affiliated to world Universities have access and know-how that needs to become part of the new journalism. They have access to arrays of databases, some of them very costly and impossible to access to most journalists.
With the global investigative journalism movement, with the new breed of cross border investigative journalists operating in transcontinental networks, it makes natural sense that journalists and research librarians start cooperating and feeding information to each other.
Just imagine a librarian sitting in front of his computer in an office at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business and assisting a journalist in Mbuji Mayi, in DR Congo with information on a mining company that just got a license to mine for diamonds in the surroundings of the Congolese town. The Stanford librarians can, in a matter of minutes, identify who are the main shareholders and executives of the company. They may find out it is an honest company with a good track record or they may find out the company is crooked with a history of abusing locals and not paying local taxes. Either way, this information is very valuable to the people of Mbuji Mayi.
Imagine this same scenario replicated all over the Globe, imagine a network where information revealing the truth continuously flows between journalists, librarians and the public. It would make a difference.
The Investigative Dashboard is part of this movement and is featured in this video which is a result of a Journalism that Matters gathering at MIT Boston where journalists met librarian.