Spanish version

INVESTIGATION

ICIJ explains origin of name of MF investigation

The consortium solicited suggestions, but in the end decided to call it the name suggested by its director.

Spanish version

Temas:

On April 3, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), in conjunction with 109 other media, published an investigation into the Panamanian firm Mossack Fonseca, whose activities have been questioned around the world.

From the first day of publication, the coverage has generated negative attention for Panama, especially due to the name that was adopted by the media participants to identify this work and which La Prensa has never been used in its own editorial coverage.

Marina Walker, deputy director of the ICIJ, replied to questions submitted by this newspaper about how it chose the name of the project as well as on other issues about the investigation.

How many investigations have been coordinated by the ICIJ?

Around 10, but Panama Papers has been, without a doubt, the largest.

Are the projects always named?

Yes. It is a way to give consistency and uniqueness to the project when you work with multiple media in different countries and languages.

How are the projects named?

We try to be simple, and use easy to remember names that do not have to have negative connotations. For example, some participants of the project proposed names like Dark Money, but it seemed to us that it was unfair, when we knew that not all the money that circulates in tax havens is connected with criminal acts.

What names have been used previously and why?

When a given country is a focus of the investigation, we have used the name of the country in the title of the project. For example: Swiss Leaks in the investigation of the documents of the HSBC in Switzerland; Luxembourg Leaks, when we mentioned the role of that country as a tax haven for large multinationals; and China Leaks, when we reveal the elites of China offshore connections. We chose Panama Papers since it is the country where Mossack Fonseca has its headquarters, but also by the enormous amount of Panamanian companies involved in global research.

Do you have the media involved in the 'christening' of each project?

We consulted our partners and ask them their opinion. But ICIJ makes the final decision.

There was some opposition to the name Panama Papers?

Yes, for example, in Panama, La Prensa newspaper disagreed.

Did you consider the negative impact it could have on Panama?

It is not our intention to stigmatize the country. We have been consistent with the form of naming projects that we always use. We have had no complaints on previous occasions by the names that we have chosen. On the other hand, we received support from ordinary citizens who thanked us that we exposed the excesses committed by some suppliers in their countries. Those citizens do not want their country to be a tax haven, and although the revelations hurt at the time, we believe that they can eventually help the country make urgent and necessary reforms.

Was it an obligation for media partners to use the name assigned to the project?

It was a suggestion that they use the name, with the expectation that it be used.

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