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Making Transparency Possible - Interdisciplinary dialogues

Alternative title: Korleis kan transparens gjerast mogeleg? Tverrfagleg dialog.

Awarded: NOK 2.5 mill.

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2018 - 2021

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Populærvitenskaplig framstilling - Engelsk This project seeks to increase public understanding of financial markets. We believe the functioning of financial markets depends on openness to allow for public debates on legal and ethical issues. Illicit financial flows and tax havens merit increased public debate based on the size and importance of the phenomenon. For instance, Global Financial Integrity estimate that US$1.1 trillion left developing countries in illicit financial outflows in 2013. The UN has consequently included improving regulation of global financial markets in the Sustainable Development Goals. Over the last few years, however, investigative journalism such as the so-called Panama-papers, the Swiss Leaks and the Lux Leaks etc. has made it clear that public understanding of financial markets is being hindered by secrecy mechanisms and illicit financial flows. Cross border investigative journalism has proved important in order to draw public attention to the problems of illegal financial flows and tax havens. Public understanding, however, depends on journalists? ability to gather, assess and present complex information in a sound manner. As a result, we additionally seek to understand how the quality of journalism on financial flows and tax havens can be improved. The project seeks to achieve this goal by establishing an interdisciplinary dialogue between investigative journalists and experts in economy, law and journalism. The first major activity was a workshop and conference held February 2018 where the participants discussed preliminary findings and began planning of joint publications. We decided to publish an anthology of 19 original articles building on the project. The book was launched at the making Transparency Possible conference in March 2019 where Anya Schiffrin and Joseph Stiglitz (Colombia University) gave the keynotes on journalism, information asymmetry and finance.

This project seeks to contribute to improving the quality of cross border journalism on global financial markets related to illicit financial flows and tax havens in order to facilitate public debate and make public understanding of financial markets possible. The project will do this by analyzing journalism on the landmark cases Panama papers, Lux leaks and Swiss Leaks. First, we wish to understand better legal and ethical issues investigative journalists face when working on illicit financial flows and tax havens. Second, we seek to understand better how journalists interpret and communicate complex financial data. Thirdly, we seek to explore the emerging praxis of digital crossborder cooperation between journalists as part of such investigations. The project takes an inductive bottom-up approach employing qualitative methodologies such as interviews, focus groups and interdisciplinary workshops/dialogue. We begin with interviewing investigative journalists to understand better the real problems and challenges journalists faced when researching illicit financial flows and tax havens. These issues will form the basis for the interdisciplinary dialogue where we will make use of experts on international law, finance and economy to discuss (with investigative journalists) the research problems defined above. The research team is recruited from Law, economy and journalism studies, in addition to NGOs working in the field of illicit financial flows and tax havens.

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