America’s biggest news outlets will have the opportunity to sift through the Panama Papers as early as next week, Variety has learned.
The leak of 11.5 million documents from the offshore law firm Mossack Fonseca have rippled through the international community, implicating everyone from actor Jackie Chan and director Pedro Almodovar to Chinese President Xi Jinping, along with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In the United States, however, only reporters from McClatchy, Univision and Fusion have been able to dig into the data released from the Panamanian law firm known for structuring tax shelters and corporations for rich clients. But according to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ deputy director Marina Walker, next week the organization will begin considering requests from other news outlets interested in using the documents to launch their own investigations. Once made public, information in the documents could shed light on how the rich invest their money in questionable ways.
“We don’t promise to give access to everyone but we will make decisions based on countries we haven’t worked in, and expertise that maybe useful to the team,” Walker told Variety.
ICIJ has so far received requests from all over the world, including the New York Times and Bloomberg (Variety has also asked for access).
“We would consider anyone,” Walker said. “We would not only consider big outlets but also small weeklies if we have reason to trust that there are good investigative reporters there, that they really want to be collaborative, and that they want to do good stories.”
But Walker said offering access to news outlets is not as simple as sending a login code. The database is complex, and before accessing the documents reporters will need to be trained on how to use the system, and the ICIJ has a core staff of six people.
“We have to balance how much coordination we can give, with as many partners as we can possibly serve,” Walker said.