“The Death of Investigative Reporting”


“The Death of Investigative Reporting”

Newspapers pioneered investigative journalism in the 1900s as a powerful medium in shaping public policy. It wasn’t until Theodore Roosevelt, who would later coin this style of journalism “muckraking”, responded to some writers taking a closer look at some his actions that the term became a badge of honor. Charles Lewis of the Center for Public Integrity separately published a student investigative reporting unit at American University in Washington in 2009 where student investigations uncovered judicial lapses that sent 11 innocent men and women to prison, as well as five to death row. Campus based generators of investigative journalism might be an emerging contributor to mass media however, expressing their claims for academic freedom in any way that tackles wrong-doing in powerful institutions may be above and beyond what many administrators are willing to support. The presence of investigative journalism may be dying out. With profit oriented media moguls like Rupert Murdoch heading up massive networks of the typical media diet, the costs of investigative journalism might simply be too high of a risk or cost with little pay off. Investigative journalism is a deeper more time consuming process than accessing news that is simply frightening and readily available. It might not be the whole truth about events in the world but stories that are easier to access will cost less money to turn a profit to begin with, but investigative journalism might not be disappearing because of bottom line business mechanics. It was a cold shock for Rocio Gonzalez and the world on September 2, 2011, when both Rocio and Marcela Yarce were found dead in a park in Mexico City. As journalists both of these women were involved in media coverage concerning the violence and latest actions of Mexico’s dangerous drug cartels. Needlessly, both women were strangled before being shot, autopsy confirmed, but the bigger issue is still a question of willpower as struggling news agencies like those in Mexico are continually confronted with obstacles to investigative journalism. According to John Vivian, “News Media is many Mexican cities have been bullied into silence. Among 29,000 people killed in the drug wars over four years have been 30 journalists.” Unfavorable media coverage for powerful factions can often lead to threats or worse. In the face of fear and intimidation, the valuable ability to take injustice and put it on display has many important properties for the good of the people. According to Martin Luther King, “ Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured as long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its pus-flowing ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must likewise be exposed, with all of the tension its exposing creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.” Investigative journalism certainly shares a lot in common with King’s approach to political reform, in fact it played a very pivotal role in spreading awareness about the atrocities of racism in America. News is everywhere, but investigative journalism hasn’t changed. It’s important to demand more of it from our news sources and ourselves.

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