The most explosive news of last week may be the publishing of Panama Papers. It first starts with one of the biggest secrecy leaks in the history, including 11.5 million confidential documents linked with 214,000 offshore companies in Mossack Fonseca, obtained by a Germany Paper Süddeutsche Zeitung from an anonymous source in 2015. They then worked with International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which distributed documents for investigation and analysis to some 400 journalists at 107 media organizations in more than eighty countries. It took them a year to draw a worldwide picture of “politicians, criminals and the rogue industry that hides their cash”.
The papers were published on 3rd April and have drawn intensive attentions around the world and brought profound effects to some countries. The Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson resigned on the next two days, 5th April, an apparent casualty of the Panama Papers leaks revealing his links to offshore companies.
With such a large amount of data, how journalists process information and make them easily readable and understandable to audiences? Well, the ICIJ and the Guardian show us the answers.
- The ICIJ:Power Leader- Li Peng and his relations
This is the power leader page of Li Peng in the Panama Papers. On the left side, it has clearly showed the relation between him and Li Xiaolin and their life introductions. On the right side, the center of the image is Liu Zhiyuan, the husband of Li Xiaolin, has owned a lot of offshore assets and companies through multi layers of relations.
Zooming in, we can see a clearer vision of the relations between Liu and those offshore companies and assets. There are three types of them, is officer of, registered address and registered. And the properties he owned or managed can be categorized into four types, company, officer, address and client.
If we click on any subjects on the relations map, there is a mark popping up with detailed information. If it is a company, they will provide audience with the file number, jurisdiction, name and status. If it is a client, they will offer name, status, client number, client names, attorney, special rates and compliance classification. And the subjects can be dragged on anywhere else on the map with the changes of the lines showing relations.
- The Guardian: What are the Panama Papers? A guide to history’s biggest data leak
The Guardian uses simple diagram to show us the registered places of more than 200,000 offshore companies, which are also tax heavens for property and bank accounts holding. We can see that the most popular locations among the law firm’s clients is British Virgin Islands, followed by Panama, Bah and Sey. Most of them registered around Caribbean.
The intermediaries between Mossack Fonseca and offshore properties are shown upon using the same way of illustration. Accountants, lawyers, banks and trust companies from Hong Kong and Swaziland take up the biggest proportion of intermediating role.
Clearly, we can see the biggest players of the game by the first sight – China and Russia.
Though this chart is different from the above, it is still very simple and easy to understand. The scale of Panama Paper leak outweighs past information leaks significantly, amounting to 2.6TB of confidential documents around the world.
The ICIJ and the Guardian have both done a great job on presenting the facts to audience. ICIJ report shows great interactivity, simplicity and reader-friendliness. And it should be highly respected with such a huge amount of information to be processed and presented. The Guardian produces another report based on the information provided by ICIJ, and they also shows high degree of simplicity and reader-friendliness to inform audiences the facts of Panama Papers.
There will be more news and political actions following Panama Papers in the upcoming days, and now we know how powerful data news can be. You can lie with texts, but not data.