Reporters United, the Story So Far
From supporting whistleblower Maria Efimova in 2018 to the first wave of FOIs in 2020, this is a provisional “have done” list
Reporters United was legally registered and established a physical presence (in Romantso) in May 2019. Prior to this, before becoming an official entity, it had begun supporting investigative journalism, networking and collaboration between journalists in Greece. All initiatives of Reporters United to date have been self-funded or supported by revenues from collaborations with international media. Here is an indicative list of what we count as our most important achievements as Reporters United.
The first legal threat against Reporters United
After approaching Antapodotiki Anakyklossi SA, the company operating buy-back recycling facilities with the approval of Greece’s Ministry of Environment and Energy, for comment on a story we were about to publish regarding their performance, inspection and financial records, we received an “out of court action” from their legal counsel threatening legal action.
Our first investigations: Moria, Laskaridis, Outlaw Ocean, hydrocarbons, buy-back recycling
Up until October 2020, Reporters United published its stories and investigations in collaboration with media partners in Greece and abroad. Now that we have our own website we can also self-publish when required. Within two months of launching the site we published five investigations: The logbook of Moria by Stavros Malichudis and Iliana Papangeli, an investigation into the Laskaridis Brothers fishing business, The fight to keep the Mediterranean free of oil-drilling by Euridice Bersi (published in English by The Nation), China’s Invisible Armada by Ian Urbina, and an investigation into Greece’s buy-back recycling scheme.
FOI requests to the Greek Police regarding the use of drones and Body Cameras
As part of an initiative by Homo Digitalis, a Greek non-profit defending digital rights, we wrote to the Chief of the Greek Police to request access to documents regarding the police operations during the anniversaries of the Polytechnic uprising and the death of Alexandros Grigoropoulos.
Exclusive collaboration with the Outlaw Ocean Project
Reporters United is the exclusive Greek-language partner of the Outlaw Ocean Project, an ongoing multimedia investigation by writer and Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter Ian Urbina, who is also advising us as a member of the R•U Advisory Board on stories related to shipping and the fishing industry. More about our collaboration here. Ian’s first investigation published with Reporters United available here.
November 2020 | “The trial of Golden Dawn”: A R•U panel at the CIJ Logan Symposium
Reporters United participated in the 4th Logan Symposium, a biennial investigative journalism conference alongside speakers such as Edward Snowden and Ai Weiwei. In cooperation with the CIJ (Centre for Investigative Journalism) we hosted a panel on the Trial of Golden Dawn, the trial of the Greek neo-Nazis which concluded in late October with the criminal conviction and sentencing of the organisation’s leadership. The panel included Yiannis Papadopoulos from Kathimerini newspaper, Stefanos Levidis, a researcher with Forensic Architecture, Ioanna Meitani, founding member of Golden Dawn Watch, and Chrysa Papadopoulou, a lawyer representing the family of murder victing Pavlos Fyssas.
November 2020 | #Speak-out: Initiative for the protection of whistleblowers
Transparency International Greece, Vouliwatch, Reporters United and 16 more organisations launched #Speak-out, an initiative for the protection of whistleblowers in view of the implementation of the new EU Whistleblowing Directive into Greek law. On November 11th, we sent a letter to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice calling on them to take action to create a strong, inclusive, progressive and up-to-date institutional framework for the protection of whistleblowers.
2020 | Collaborations with journalists and producers in Greece
The following journalists have worked on collaborative projects with international media in 2020 within the framework of partnerships formed by Reporters United: Eurydice Bersi, Myrto Boutsi, Pavlos Zafiropoulos, Stavros Ioannidis, Christoforos Kasdaglis, Nikolas Leontopoulos, Stavros Malichoudis, Anastasia Moumtzaki, Sotiris Sideris, Alexia Tsagkari, Thodoris Chondrogiannos, graphic designer Alexia Barakou, sound engineers Panagiotis Papagiannopoulos, Alexis Koukias-Pantelis and Aris Athanasopoulos, cinematographer Fanis Karagiorgos, editor Giorgos Kolios.
2020 | Partnerships and publications in international media
In 2020, stories by Reporters United’s reporters were published in Mediapart (France), Buzzfeed (Germany), VICE (Germany), Diario De Noticias (Portugal), Aftenbladet and Klassekampen (Norway), Open Democracy (UK), WP Magazyn (Poland), while Reporters United collaborated on the production of Eurydice Bersi’s research «Oil and Water Don’t Mix», that made a cover story for The Nation (USA).
October 2020 | Production of 25min TV documentary for Arte
Reporters United undertook production and field research in Greece for a 25’ TV series documentary on the Greek-Turkish crisis for the French-German public network Arte . Reporting and location filming took place in Athens and the island of Kalymnos. The Greek contribution to the documentary included interviews with State Minister George Gerapetritis, academic Konstantina Botsiou, and the mayor of Kalymnos, and reporting on the situation at sea near the islets of Imia with fishermen from Kalymnos. Journalists Alexia Tsagkari, Thodoris Chondrogiannos and Stavros Ioannidis were involved in production and research.
2020 | FOI at last!
In 2020 we launched, in cooperation with two organizations that have pioneered open data in Greece, Vouliwatch and the Open Technologies Alliance, a series of workshops to educate, for the first time in Greece, journalists on the use of Freedom Of Information (FOI) requests, based on the constitutional right for Access to Public Information. We have so far held two workshops in the series, the first with Helen Darbishire from AccessInfo! και the second with award-winning Le Monde journalist Stéphane Horel. We plan to resume workshops as soon as the pandemic situation allows, with a third speaker from abroad. At the same time, journalists from the Reporters United community have started to submit FOI requests, both independently and in cooperation with Vouliwatch. In a recent high-profile case, we supported the request to the government to publish in full, as it is obliged by law, the sums of money granted to the Greek media for the “Stay at Home” campaign.
2019-2020 | Cooperation with pan-european network of journalists Investigate Europe
Reporters United is the exclusive partner in Greece of Investigate Europe, a team of journalists from 10 European countries. Within the framework this cooperation, four reporters from the Reporters United network (Nikolas Leontopoulos, Stavros Malichoudis, Thodoris Chondrogiannos, Sotiris Sideris) have so far participated in cross-border media research projects on detained minor migrants in Europe, the race for the vaccine for COVID-19, fossil fuel subsidies, the natural gas trap and the Secrets of the Council.
June 2020 | WhistleblowingMeter
Since June 2020, Reporters United has been part of the WhistleblowingMeter project by global network WIN (Whistleblowing International Network), with the aim of monitoring the transposition in Greek law of the EU Directive for the protection of whistleblowers. The project’s ”Country editor” for Greece is Reporters United’s lawyer and pro bono legal advisor, Clio Papapantoleon.
May 2020 | Secrets of the Council
As part of its collaboration with Investigate Europe, Reporters United has taken on the Greek part of the research for the project “Secrets of the Council”, which aims to highlight and address the secrecy and opacity surrounding the workings of the most important and powerful decision-making body in Europe the Council of the European Union. Our goal is to monitor and analyse the behaviour of Greek governments behind closed doors within the Council: Who are their allies? What changes do they promote and which do they obstruct? What interests do they serve?
April 2020 | Whistleblowing & COVID-19
In April 2020 Reporters United co-signed, along with other organisations from all over the world, an open call to highlight the importance of witnesses that act for the public interest during the Coronavirus crisis (Coalition to Make Whistleblowing Safe During COVID-19 and Beyond).
2019 | OGP Consultation
Reporters United participated, together with 10 other organisations, in the public consultation by international initiative Open Government Partnership (OGP) for Open Governance in Greece. You can read more here.
2018 – present | Investigative animations
Starting informally in 2018,, and officially since2019, Reporters United has been producing (script, animation design, sound design, narration – under the instruction of Alexia Barakou) the animations used by Investigate Europe to visualise their investigative projects. You can browse the animations here.
2018 – present | Seminars on digital security
From 2018 onwards, Reporters United, together with GFOSS (Open Technologies Alliance), has initiated a series of seminars on digital security. To date, we have trained more than 35 journalists in Greece in various aspects of digital security.
2018 | The case of Maria Efimova / Daphne Caruana Galizia
In 2018, Reporters United activated an informal network of support for whistleblower Maria Efimova (whose revelations shed light on the murder case of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia), from appointing a lawyer to represent her, to organsing a public event (in cooperation of Hellenic League for Human Rights) to raise awareness for her case. A Reporters United journalist testified as a defence witness for Efimova before Areios Pagos (the Supreme Court of Greece). A number of current members of the Reporters United network were involved in the support effort, as were the two lawyers we cooperated with (Ioannis Ktistakis and Clio Papapantoleon). We are proud to say that in a decision of historical significance Areios Pagos ruled against the extradition of Ms Efimova to Malta.
A culture of cooperation between reporters
We are trying to gradually establish practices and behaviours that foster a culture of cooperation and transparency during journalistic research. For example, we use an open source platform for internal communication (an alternative to Slack), so that journalists can discuss and collaborate online on specific projects. Reporters United has also been accepted on the DocumentCloud platform which will allow our journalists to work together, exchange, process and finally publish in the public domain documents and evidence from their research.