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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Will the media have the courage?

We broke the Panama Papers story. Here's how to investigate Donald Trump

onald Trump is now president. This challenges many of us, not least members of the press. Countless reporters are still shaken and stunned by how he singled out a CNN reporter, one of the most respected news outlets in the world, to attack and humiliate him during his first press conference since winning the elections. Worryingly, none of his fellow journalists in the room stood up for him at the time.
This wasn’t Trump’s first attack on the press, and it certainly won’t be his last. The first White House press briefing, held on Saturday, featured bullying, threats and unproven claims. That is why a new level of solidarity and cooperation is needed among the fourth estate. 
American journalists should stop him from dividing their ranks – however hard their professional competition may be. They should do the opposite: unite, share and collaborate. Even if doing so would mean embracing something quite unfamiliar and new to American journalism.

The Panama Papers has showed that a formerly unthinkable project of collaboration can work. When we shared the data of the papers with a team of 400 reporters worldwide, we brought together a vast number of investigative reporters who typically compete which each other. The main reason why our newspaper, the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, shared the story with competitors was simply that it was too big and too important to do alone.
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Now, once again, we are faced with a story that is too big and too important to handle on our own: Donald Trump’s impact on the democracy of the United States of America.
Of course, American media can’t approach this the way we did for the Panama Papers, when the Washington DC-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) coordinated the work of 107 news outlets around the world. But there’s a wide range of possibilities for how news outlets could work together.
This first step could be showing concrete solidarity. The next time Donald Trump tries to single out a reporter, or doesn’t answer a question, the next reporter who’s allowed to speak should repeat the question of the journalist Trump has snubbed.

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