Covering the Extractives Industry: Big Data, New Tools, and Journalism
By: ANYA SCHIFFRIN AND ERIKA RODRIGUES | March 5, 2014
This paper was presented during the professor’s track at the Global Investigative Journalism Conference in October 2013 in Rio De Janeiro. For more on educators and investigative reporting, see the Investigative Journalism Education Consortium.
Pay No Mind in Flickr (CC License)
The one thing we know is that our efforts have empowered journalists, if only they take advantage of it. Our most effective efforts in the struggle against the resource curse have been those aimed at transparency. There is information available now of a quality and detail that traditional civil society organizations are not used to dealing with. And more is on the way.
— Law Prof. Peter Rosenblum, who specializes in extractives and human rights
The extractives sector (oil, gas, and mining) continues to be an important subject for journalists, particularly in developing countries. Revenues from oil, gas and mining contribute substantially to GDP and in many cases make up the bulk of government revenue.
Indeed, among 29 nations that in 2011 were implementing the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative  (EITI), 10 reported extractives revenues totaling over one-quarter of their respective government budgets (six of which were actually over 50%). Among the broader global community, 30 countries reported natural resource rents representing over one-fifth of their entire national economies, with six whose natural resource rents constituted more than half of their GDP (Iraq, the Republic of Congo, Saudi Arabia, Mauritania, Kuwait, and Gabon).
The companies in the extractive sector are large and influential. The estimated global market capitalization of publicly-traded oil, gas, and mining companies currently stands at €6.1 trillion. Extractives companies traded on the three primary American exchanges (NYSE, NASDAQ, and AMEX) are collectively worth €3.7 trillion alone.