Paradise Papers: Five Tips on Digging into the Data

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Digging into Pardise: Data hackathon with ICIJ journalist Will Fitzgibbon. Photo: Madelene Cronjé

The International Consortium of Journalists (ICIJ) has just released its Paradise Papers database of and made it available to the public. Now it’s your turn to take part to the global investigation and search through the 13.5 million documents.

ICIJ director Marina Walker, ICIJ reporter Will Fitzgibbon and Bastian Obermayer, journalist at Süddeutsche Zeitung, organized a hackathon at #GIJC17 in Johannesburg to help journalists become familiar with the database.

Following are some tips if you want to start digging into the Paradise Papers and their offshore secrets.

1. Anyone can pitch their own stories to the ICIJ.  If you find interesting leads in the public domain, you can submit your research to  Based on the documents and your research, ICIJ will give access to the data related to your lead and topic.

2. Don’t forget to encrypt your emails. A very simple tool allows you to do so: Mailvelope. This extension allows you to create a PGP key to lock your messages and unlock the encrypted messages you receive. (For more information about secure contact with ICIJ,  check out their leak drop page.

3. Secure your documents on your computer. Remember the information available in the Paradise Papers should have never been revealed. With VeraCrypt you can create a “ghost” folder on your desktop; the folder can hold thousands of documents and does not appear on your computer.

4. The most obvious names are not necessarily the ones you will find in the database. In other words, if you are interested in a political figure, make a list of the names of his/her relatives, including the names of his/her husband/wife and children.

5. To save time, make some lists of names (for example, the MPs of your country, the football players of your favorite team). Then you can compare your lists to the Paradise documents and check if some names match within the database.

This article is also available in French

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