In the newsrooms an adaptation to the saying is common that says that the one who keeps delicacies, keeps regrets. The adjustment in the journalistic world says that the one who keeps firstfruits keeps bitterness. This may be the reading some colleagues have with what happened in Colombia after the publication of almost all the names of the so-called Falciani List by the First Page portal, when it was known that CONNECTAS has been investigating said material without that at that time I would have exposed none of the Colombians with accounts at the HSBC bank in Switzerland in what is now known globally as the scandal of the Swiss Leaks.
But this is still a simple read. The interesting debates generated within several of the research teams of the most impactful media in Colombia for the publication of banking information, and the evolution of the facts, make it relevant to us to know the different nuances after the set of publications on the subject.
For several weeks, CONNECTAS as an ally of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), reviewed in detail the so-called Falciani list, with the support of data support from the Initiative for Investigative Journalism of the Americas. After this exercise, he decided that he did not have enough elements to publish or omit the publication of any of the names. This was reflected in a first joint publication he made with allied media in Latin America . A topic of special sensitivity in the context in which the scandal occurred that confirmed that the HSBC stimulated tax evasion, and made its controls more flexible to allow the entry of monies of illicit origin.
Evidence of the complexity of the issue in the journalistic field is that at the time of the launch of the publication by the ICIJ and Le Monde de France, only less than one hundred of the 106,000 names on the list were revealed. This after the review of the material by more than 140 journalists in the media of 45 countries.
When Colombian media began circulating names of people who were supposedly on the list, we were contacted by various local media to determine if this information was true, which we proceeded to deny. We were also consulted about the decision not to publish and for colleagues there was always a respectful attitude towards editorial arguments of not doing so. Likewise, it was stated that formulas were explored that would allow contrasting this information under different optics. Something fundamental for an organization like CONNECTAS that promotes the exchange of information in the Americas on relevant and public interest topics.
The strategy used for that new look was to invite the research teams of several of the most renowned national media. Thus began the review of the information in conjunction with Semana, El Tiempo, El Espectador, and Noticias Uno . This exercise involved doing in a few days what globally took weeks. The alliance was based on an agreement to respect the guidelines given by the ICIJ not to publish all names lightly, to seek to contrast with each person that was mentioned its version and the absolute handling of information confidentiality.
In addition, it was agreed to work together in the search for information and contrast of it, and discuss the findings in the light of the public relevance of the names. For the publication it would be explored to make a single version to spread jointly. In case of differences of editorial criteria, each one was free to publish or not to publish the information under the aforementioned guidelines and with the emphasis that I would like to make.
Intense and interesting debates took place over 15 days as to why or not to disclose a name. In parallel, progress was made both in the investigation and in the contrast of the information with the people and entities on which there was a consensus that required more information. It was thus that of the 286 names on the list there were about twenty names, whose peculiarities could make their cases subjects of public interest.
The answers by contrasting the information made the list shorter. At that point were the journalistic inquiries, when the publication of 246 names by the First Page came, and they were widely disseminated by other means. In the journalistic logics this led to the conclusion of an exercise that lacked a few days. Like the participating media of this alliance in Colombia, they considered that there was enough documentation to decide what to do with the information.
It was not possible to arrive at the formula of a single version to spread jointly because El Tiempo decided that it would not disclose anything, for this reason it was withdrawn from the credits in the texts. According to the Deputy Director of Information of this publishing house, Andrés Mompotes, the investigation and the contrast did not allow them to conclude that there was an indication that any of the list sought to evade the Colombian tax system. He also indicated that they continue with the investigation and possible publications will depend on the findings.
On the other hand, Semana and El Espectador made a joint publication with many of the inputs and discussions that took place within the group of reporters who participated in this exercise, deciding the editorial emphasis they wanted to do, according to what was agreed upon.
Likewise, he made News One made his own evaluation, which in addition to being television has another format, and CONNECTS that after the exercise decided to publish for now only the name of two family clans .
Los trabajos colaborativos entre medios de comunicación, son parte de los cambios en el ejercicio periodístico con el nuevo milenio. Además son parte de las estrategias usadas por periodistas para enfrentar poderes capaces de silenciar a los medios. El avance en las comunicaciones y en la posibilidad de manejo de grandes volúmenes de datos son nuevas oportunidades para el oficio que organizaciones como el ICIJ, han desarrollado con notable éxito con varios ejercicios de impacto global. Esto a la par ha obligado a construir nuevas formas de trabajo donde la confianza y las reglas claras de juego son fundamentales. Algo que se cumplió en el caso de la alianza de Colombia.
The First Page material is the first filtration of which there is a record of a material that for months managed to handle with great confidentiality. Paradoxically the filtration of a filtration.