Hey, everyone! In case you are wondering why am I publishing a content entirely different from what I generally publish? I am supposed to write and publish articles for my assignment. I thought of creating a new website but decided it would be too much to handle. I also decided to publish some discussion articles on my website in the future. I hope you enjoy reading those articles!
Investigative journalism or global muckraking has seen a tremendous growth in recent years. But it has existed in the past and it is likely to have a more significant impact in the future. The term ‘muckraker’ was coined by President Theodore Roosevelt in his 1906 speech. In that speech, he expressed his negative feelings and anger towards media, newspaper, and journalists, who attack public figures with their lies and insults. Ever since then, the term ‘muckraker’ has been used for journalists who dig a little deeper in government, corporate, and social issues. The first investigative journalist was Julius Chambers who exposed the inhumane conditions in an asylum.
Investigative journalists play an important role in exposing corrupt political and corporate practices and their ignorance towards social issues. They faced a backlash for their zeal and passion to work for and improve the conditions of the society. Earlier, the news took time to reach the public and even more to create an impact on part of the government as well as the public. There are several examples of investigative journalism spread across the span of time. Some of the most prominent instances of investigative journalism include- E.D. Morel on King Leopold and the abuse in rubber collection in Congo, Ian Stephen on the 1943 famine in Bengal in India, Ida Tarbell and Lincoln Steffen on the abuse of power, Gareth Jones on the famine of 1933 in Ukraine, Henry Woodd Nevinson on labour conditions in Cocoa plantation. These are considered some of the most popular cases of investigative journalism which stirred an outrage in the public.
Rubber Plantation slaves in Congo
King Leopold answered E.D. Morel by a campaign of his own but in vain and he eventually gave up his control on the rubber plantation. The images printed along with articles on famine in Bengal in India prompted the government to take immediate action but it was still late before the help arrived. It is believed that over 3 million people lost their lives in India due to the famine. With the growth of media, it was believed that famines would not cover because the media would’ve already warned the public and the government would take necessary actions beforehand, before the famine sets in. There are several instances when investigative journalists were executed because their reporting hampered the corrupt economic, political, and criminalized system.
The 1943 famine in Bengal in India
A few examples of investigative stories in 2017- Reports of Megan Twohey and Jodi Kanto and Ronan Farrow on Harvey Weinstein paying off the accusers of sexual harassment for years; Justin Mayo and Mike Baker reported how Swedish doctors double-booked their operations; neglect and abuse of disabled adults in Illinois, and various other stories which were never brought to light.
Corruption has never been truly curbed, it has only increased. And with ever-increasing corruption in current times, society needs brave investigative journalists. Journalists who are ready to cover a story which no one ever will; journalists who can resist temptation, and journalists who can change the status quo. Although investigative journalists alone cannot bring an end to practices which are not in interests of the public, they can only help spread the awareness amongst the public. Often a story reported by an investigative journalist is picked up by other journalists, news channels, blogs etc. and sometimes activists join in to fight against terrible social issues such as human trafficking. Investigative journalism is not about spreading awareness against social issues. These issues have been prevalent and will prevail in the future. The foremost object of investigative journalists is to expose corrupt and inhumane practices. Investigative journalists can only begin the process of reforming our society but the support from the general public is what is needed to stop these practices.
Investigative journalists work together to investigate and break criminal networks operating in corporate and government sectors who are smuggling and laundering public money. It is believed that where there are active media, the government is likely to take quick actions in fear of damage to its reputation amongst the public. However, there are people who don’t care about public opinion.
It is important for people to know when journalism does and does not bring change. It is surely time-consuming and expensive reporting but if done effectively, it is important to manifest change by affecting the way people think and respond to hypocrisy and corruption in any field.
There are some stories which should be out in public for everyone to know and make government officials and corporate institutions responsible and accountable for their actions. Whether investigative journalism will succeed depends entirely on how people react to it. Often time, it does not have an impact, especially when dealing with a large and entrenched system of corruption.
Have you heard of Investigative journalism before? What are your views on it? Do you think it has impacted the world in either a positive or negative way?
Let me know in the comments below!