For weeks, emails, bank records and other data from a notorious Panamanian law firm had flooded the computers of two investigative reporters at the Munich newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung – and now they were in danger of drowning in it. The journalists, Bastian Obermayer and Frederik Obermaier, reached out to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), and the most ambitious global journalism investigation in history was underway.
In April, 2016, ICIJ and more than 100 other news organizations published the first Panama Papers stories, a Pulitzer Prize-winning project that revealed startling details about the scope of international tax avoidance and how some of the world’s richest people shield their money from outside scrutiny.
It was just one in a series of ICIJ projects that have transformed global investigative journalism. Each was made possible because journalists took a giant leap of faith: they shared information with other