Gauging the Global Impacts of the 'Panama Papers' Three Years Later
The last decade has seen rising interest in developing ways to measure the impacts of investigative journalism. This factsheet offers a comparative analysis of outcomes of the 'Panama Papers’ investigation of 2016, which ultimately involved more than 500 reporters working in more than 80 countries. With a content analysis of impacts self-reported by journalists over three years, we show that ‘deliberative’ outcomes indicating official discussion or investigation have been the most common impact, evident in 45 percent of jurisdictions tracked; we find evidence of ‘individualistic’ outcomes involving accountability for specific people or companies in a third, and of 'substantive’ legal or policy change in 18 percent. We also evidence of backlash against reporters nearly as often as substantive reforms, though rarely in the same countries. Our analysis shows that major investigative reports may continue to have significant impacts years after publication, and that substantive reforms require time to take shape.