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Importance of Investigative Journalism in Today’s World Essay

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Updated: Dec 28th, 2021

Introduction

The media plays an important role in society. It is difficult to imagine the society without the media. As a result the impact of the media in the society cannot be underestimated. The society is heavily influenced by media, therefore media is part and parcel of the society and it affects the manner in which people relate. Media therefore is an important aspect of the society.

Whenever media is being mentioned, people always quickly thing about reporting. There are different ways in which broadcasting of events is done by different types of mass media technologies available and as such media is known for its obligation of revealing facts to the readers. This might be facts concerning events or other aspects of reality. Journalism therefore is of great significance because it is through it that people get to know what is happening around them and even in other places far away from them.

There are different forms of journalism which largely depends upon the content and nature of the message being broadcasted. Investigative journalism has become popular as a form of journalism. Normally it involves the analysis and investigation of an aspect that is closely followed up by the public. This form of journalism has been popular for the exposure of corruption and other social and administrative lapses in the society. Investigative journalism has a lot of significance and plays an important role in the modern society. However it has its own risk and challenges some of which threaten the personnel involved in it. The aim of this paper is to take an analytical journey through the concept of investigative journalism. The paper endeavours to unearth the cultural implications of the same and also discuss the role and importance of investigative journalism.

Investigative Journalism

Investigative journalism involves the reporting of aspects such as crime, corruption, and unethical acts. This is done through thorough investigation of the same so as to come up with a detailed report. This is normally done in the pubic interests. This is the reason behind the topics of investigation being of moral and ethical essence. This kind of journalism requires a lot of time because thorough research has to be done before the report is disseminated through media. Journalists therefore spent a lot of time researching various sources so as to come up with the detailed truth about the topic of investigation (Stuart, p. 67). Under normal circumstances the sources of information for the journalist must be protected. It is against this kind of premise that people volunteer to offer information about a certain issue. Investigative journalists are in a better position to acquire information due to the fact that individuals don’t fear since they are protected. In case the investigations are done by police most people will not volunteer information. This is due to the legal aspects of police investigation. Therefore investigative journalists are more effective in convincing sources to provide information concerning an event. The success of investigative journalism is well documented in history. This best comes from the exposure of scandals and malpractices in the society that lead to the investigation by the authorities. Most often investigative journalism leads to strong response by the government agencies due to the public interest expressed through the reporting. A case that had been ignored is often picked up quickly once the matter has been exposed by investigative journalism. Investigative journalism however has its own set of risks. First and foremost is the threat on the life of the journalist and his family. This is due to the sensitive nature of the revelations which touch on the lives of many. Another major challenge is the legal mechanism which has restricted the scope of investigative journalists. There are certain laws that have been enacted that require investigative journalist to reveal their sources. This is a major blow to the job since in case this is enforced individuals will fear disclosing information due to the exposure. Under the law people who volunteer information are likely to be treated as witnesses and sometimes grilled and sued in a court of law (Williamson, p. 47). This makes it difficult for individuals to volunteer information to the police. However due to the protection enjoyed under investigative journalism, most people are willing to volunteer information (O’Shaughnessy & Stadler, p. 64). This has been one of the success factors of the system. However with such threatening laws investigative journalism might lose its advantages.

Another crucial aspect challenging investigative journalism is the resource question. Investigative journalism requires a lot of funds so as to successfully conduct research and come up with conclusive reports. As a result lack of funds has made most media houses tend to avoid investigative journalism due to the huge amount of capital required. Sources of funding need to be found so as to boost the investigative journalism. Most media houses shun investigative journalism since it requires a lot of funds to carry out the investigations. As a result investigative journalism is threatened by the resource question. Reporting of matters like crimes needs a lot of research which most often involves travelling to gather data and compile it for the sake of analysis. As a result unless media house get funding for all these processes the field risks being isolated.

Compromise is a fact that threatens the field of investigative journalism. This is mostly underscored by interests in the form of advertisements. Most media houses get their revenue from advertisements. As a result they don’t engage in things that will make them lose their income bases. Majority of the scandals take place in agencies especially those that deal in real estate. Since real estate companies are huge source of income to the media through advertisements, most media houses spare them from investigation. This kind of collaboration threatens the field of investigative journalism.

Essence of Investigative Journalism

The essence of investigative journalism has several connotations. However the most common aspect of its relevance is the issue of public interest. Investigative journalism is primarily done in the spirit of public interest. This happens as a result of the weighty matter which are investigated and reported upon by investigative journalists. Most of the time investigative journalism involves the reporting of crime, corruption, unethical practices in organizations. Such a kind of reporting is meant to inform the public about the hidden ills in society. Therefore investigative journalism essentially serves as a watch dog of the society. In other words it accounts for all the hidden things that are done behind the awareness of the society. This marks the significance of investigative journalism as a forum through which the public is made aware of the various acts of immorality taking place. This puts the society in a better position to respond accordingly so as to rid itself of such happenings. Without investigative journalism there will be so many negative things done against society without its knowledge. As a result there is likely to be rampant abuse of human rights and mistreatment of certain sections of society without any mention. Therefore investigative journalism keeps the perpetrators of evil on their toes since they risk being exposed. This form of journalism serves as the eye of the society in matter of crime, corruption and other aspects of ethics.

Exposing the ills and immorality in the society is an obligation of investigative journalism. Through thorough investigation investigative journalist unearth several acts of injustices done against sections of society. This heralds justice to those who have been victimised. This is a core aspect of investigative justice. Rampant acts of corruption, terrorism and violence are caught on camera, interviews intercepted and the whole plan revealed through investigative journalism. Through this the truth is brought out on the fore. And the masterminds of such acts are exposed. Therefore a chief feature of investigative journalism is the revelation of facts surrounding certain invents. Without investigative journalism it is virtually impossible to access truth behind most of the heinous acts against humanity and society at large.

Carrying out credible investigation into the truth behind corruption, unethical deeds and crime is an important aspect of investigative journalism. The aim of investigative journalism is to come up with credible information that brings out the true essence of acts against morality and ethical values. This is the reason behind the thorough investigation by investigative journalists. Since the police and other investigative agencies are known for acts of cover up and shoddy work investigative journalist finds it upon themselves to establish the truth behind certain acts and behaviours. This is mostly done with the public interest in mind. Therefore, investigative journalist endeavours to analyse a matter in details so as to provide the society with enough evidence of the real truth behind such acts.

Reporting acts of impunity corruption and injustices forms the central focus of investigative journalism. Investigative journalist not only endeavours to investigative matters of public interests but also report them. This is the main essence of investigative journalism. The reason why the journalists trouble themselves with investigations is to bring out a more credible report that will be given to the readers, viewers and listeners. The content is just not sought in vain but is meant to be broadcasted for all to know. Therefore it can be said that investigative journalism serves as an informer of the society. It performs the role of whistle blower whereby things that were not known are made public through the investigative reporting. This serves society well since a lot of things go without being reported.

Importance of Investigative Journalism

Investigative journalism is of great importance in the modern world. This is due to the large number of benefits associated with investigative journalism. Through the investigation and gathering of data pertaining to crime, deceit, fraud and other acts of immorality investigative journalism plays a very important role in the society (Newman & Gibson, p. 82). Exposure of maladministration and corruption in the society is one of the most fundamental reasons to why investigative journalism is important. Through the exposure investigative journalism brings to understanding the causes and nature of various injustices that would have gone unnoticed. Through this exposure it becomes possible for the victims to obtain justice. At the same time the perpetrators of such crimes are brought to book once the truth about their actions are exposed.

Investigative journalism also serves the public interests through its detailed research and reporting of injustices. This is done through the appropriate updates given to the readers, listeners and viewers through the investigative reports. Therefore investigative journalism serves as a public eye to those in authority against the abuse of power. Since media is independent it therefore becomes evident that those in position of authority cannot manipulate it for their own purpose. Therefore investigative journalism becomes the only refuge for the public through which facts about hidden things are exposed. The history of investigative justice is full of exposures of fraud, deceit, terrorism and corruption which had been hidden from the public c eye. Without investigative journalism it is evident that this could have remained unknown for centuries. As a result investigative journalism serves as the forum through which the public is made aware of the on goings in the society.

Investigative journalism has led to the achievement of justice to many to whom it had been denied. This is primarily due to cover up of heinous events by the police who sometimes work for certain people in power. Through the exposure of the truth behind certain social ills and acts of injustices, investigative journalism has led to the formal investigation and conviction of many who would have gone Scot free. As a result investigative journalism has remained an important aspect of social justice through which activism and lobbying has led to justice to those it had been denied (Goldman & Papson, p. 72). This is due to the effectiveness of investigative journalism in accessing information from sources that would have declined to be questioned by police. This is due to the legal nature of events whereby volunteering information for police investigation might lead to exposure or conviction. However due to the nature of investigative journalism the sources are duly protected, most individual volunteer to give information. As a result investigative journalism is more effective in its investigation as compared to the legal arms of the government.

Cultural Aspects of Investigative Journalism

Investigative journalism has a lot of significance of the cultural values of modern society. This is due to the great role that it plays in the evolution of society among other things. As a result of investigative journalism modern society is keen with justice and accountability (Jagose 94). The culture of information can be attributed to the role and impact of investigative journalism in the society. This is coupled by the informative nature of investigative journalism. Investigative journalism has led to a craving for understanding about the on goings in the society. At the same time the public expectations of the media concerning this has experienced a skyrocketing trend. As a result the media is trusted by the society to reveal the truths behind many events. This has put a strain of responsibility upon the media since it is expected to get the facts and relay them through investigative reporting. Therefore investigative journalism has created a culture of accountability. This works both for the public as well as for the agencies, governments and institutions of authority. Through the thorough investigation of scandals, human rights abuses, rampant acts of corruption, impunity and immorality investigative journalism has made the society more alert and vigilant. Those in positions of power are most targeted since abuse of power strongly features in topics of investigative journalism.

Conclusion

The media’s role in society is paramount. In virtually all aspects of life media has always remained relevant. This is due to the different roles it plays. Apart from entertaining people, the media has other significant roles in the day to day experiences of life. This might be through the information and news relayed through the various forms of media as well as other forms of broadcasting. However investigative journalism is of core importance to society in a number of ways. Apart from informing the public about the ills and injustices, it plays an important role of whistle blowing of the wrong doers. This is a role through which the unknown facts about certain forms of injustice are first broadcasted in the media. This has far reaching implications both to the society, the media and the institutions of justice and governance. In one way or the other investigative journalism has a lot of influence on how matters of corruption, crime and other forms of injustices are conducted in society. The exposure of certain truths behind the practices influences the achievements of justice to a great extend. However investigative journalism has a lot of challenges that threaten to affect its future. The paper has analysed the aspect of investigative journalism in detail. Its cultural implications have also been analysed. The paper has therefore analytically discussed the whole concept of investigative journalism and also highlighted the importance of it.

Works Cited

  1. Goldman, Robert, and Papson Stephen. Advertising in the Age of Accelerated Meaning. New York: The New Press, 2003.
  2. Hall, Stuart. The Work of Representation’ In His Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices. London: Sage Publishers, 1997.
  3. Jagose, Annamarie. The Invention of Lifestyle’: Interpreting Everyday Culture. London: Arnold, 2003.
  4. Newman, Felicity, and Gibson Mark. Monoculture versus Multiculinarism: Trouble in the Aussie Kitchen. Open University Press, 2005.
  5. O’Shaughnessy, Michael, and Stadler Jane. Semiology In Their Media and Society: An Introduction. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 2002.
  6. Williamson, Judith. A Currency of Signs’ In Her Decoding Advertisements: Ideology and Meaning In Advertising. London: Marion Boyars, 1978.
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