Barack Obama once said, and I quote; ” An independent press, A vibrant private sector, A civil society; Those are the things that give life to democracy”. This implies that, a country is guaranteed a thriving democracy when the rights of citizens are not trampled upon and the system of rule held accountable with an independent press, serving as the mouthpiece and watchdog of the people. As such, the role of the press can not be underestimated.
_”Investigative reporting is increasingly important in mitigating corruption, which is a major impediment to developing democratic institutions and laws (Sullivan 2013).”_
The focus of this article is to dissect the form of journalism known as investigative journalism. What exactly is it? What are the pros and cons involved and the modus operandi of investigative journalism?
Now, imagine you discover that, everything you have been doing has been captured on camera without your permission with the aim of discovering a “hidden truth” or you have been set up to do something on camera with the aim of ” discovering who you really are”. Would you feel violated then? Is there probable causes for investigative journalists to operate the way they do?
Investigative journalism was explained by the Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) as “an in-depth detailed original work, through a reporter’s own initiative”. Reports of investigative journalism are thoughtful, rigorous and time intensive. They always seek to tell untold stories and expose the rot, irregularities and abuses in the system. Because these reports bother on the life of the citizenry, especially high profile officers, it is highly sensitive and must be treated as such.
_”A hard hitting investigative report that uncovers a nugget of genuine truth is the ultimate viral hit”_
Investigative journalism has strengthened constitutional democracy in the country, though it puts journalists in an ethical dilemma. It has promoted the protection of basic human rights of citizens, using the watchdog mechanism as the main tool. It has also helped fight all degrees of corruption and somehow made the fourth pillar of government fearful.
According to the constitution, the giver and receiver of bribes are equally guilty. How can this statement be integrated into the roles of investigative journalism? Are they an exemption to this rule, and thus are permitted to lure people with money or other entrapping materials in order to tag them as been corrupt? What are the functions, rights and freedom of an investigative journalist?
With regard to the funding of these investigative reports, is it advisable for sponsorship to be sought? If yes, how can the probability of interference from the sponsoring body be controlled?
It is said that, one must not wash his dirty linen outside. With the rot investigative reports discover, is it in our best interest that these reports be made public even to the outside world? Can that affect the development of the country? How then must the work of the investigative journalist be propagated? Are they allowed to walk freely as “givers” of bribe whiles “receivers” are punished? Should they be given immunity against the crimes of bribe? If No, won’t this affect their work and if it does, who will expose the rot in the system? If your answer is in the affirmative, isn’t it possible that they may go out of line? Should there be control mechanisms? How should these control mechanisms look like?
My name is Raheem Awaafo, and I believe the masses matter. Personally I think luring people to take bribes and getting them recorded is wrong. If the person asks for it, then fine! Investigative journalists could be pardoned as “givers” of bribes but not when they lure people and entrap them. Do you think investigative journalists are equally guilty as the people they report on, especially in cases of bribery and corruption?
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