He began his working life working for the news organisation Bureau of Investigative Journalism, where he worked on the Iraq War. From late 2010 to early 2011, James Ball was part of the organisation known as Wikileaks, where he was closely involved in Cablegate - the publication of 250,000 classified US embassy cables in 2010 - and also worked on two documentaries based on the Iraq War Archives. In 2011 he joined the British newspaper The Guardian, where he served as editor of special projects such as: "Reading de Riots", an investigation into the riots that occurred in 2011 as a result of the death of Mark Duggan after he was shot by police on his way to be arrested; the WikiLeaks leak of data on the US base at Guantanamo Bay; in the ICIJ Offshore Leaks, the publication of details of a series of international tax fraud documents including the so-called "Panama Papers"; and played a key role in Edward Snowden's Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the NSA leaks.
James Ball currently works as a special correspondent at BuzzFeed UK and also as an associate lecturer at City University London on their Interactive and Investigative Journalism courses. His most recent and successful publications include Wikileaks: News in the networked era, a history of how Wikileaks worked, which he co-produced with Charlie Beckett; and The Infographic History of the World, a representation of human history through visual representations of data with commentary, which he co-produced with Valentina D'Efilippo.