Investigative Reporting

Topics: Rape, Investigative journalism, Child abuse Pages: 6 (2061 words) Published: April 16, 2014
As our society continues to grow and evolve, secrets will be hidden from the public more often than not. These secrets should be known to everyone, and this is where the importance of investigative reporting comes into play. Investigative reporting is a type of journalism that tries to discover information of public interest that someone is trying to hide (English Definition of "Investigative Journalism"). The topic in which the reporter investigates is solely dependent on their own personal interest, or the interest of their editor. These topics could range from government and politics to police negligence. Despite the risks, investigative reporting is very valuable to our society because it looks for the buried lies and secrets being withheld from the public that could directly affect us. Over the past years there have been many investigations that were started by reporters which then initiated public outrage and caused for further investigation by the proper authorities. One such investigation was carried out by Craig McCoy, the city editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The investigation was described in his essay called How We Got That Story: The Buried Rapes. The spark of interest began in 1998 when the Inquirer wrote articles about how the Philadelphia’s police department had ignored reporting’s of crime in order to make their citizens believe their city was more safe than it really actually was. Many officers admitted to this occurring, but claimed that murder and rape was accurately recorded. However in 1998 there was a report where a woman said she was raped by a loan shark in front of other men and yet this claim was demoted to a code that said “investigation of person.” This prompted for further investigation and they later discovered there were thousands of similar reports that were classified as “investigation of person” or “code 2701.” The investigation soon brought to light that multiple different rape cases that were ignored, were all victims of rape by the same criminal who is still at large (Winburn).

The reporters received an anonymous call which described two 1997 attacks that were dismissed. The caller told the reporter that “these assaults appeared to be the work of the same man who had committed other rapes, and then gone on to murder a woman in 1998” (Winburn). The serial rapist could have been stopped before there was another victim if the Philadelphia’s police department had actually looked into these rape cases. According to the essay, there was a trend to the types of rape cases which were overlooked. The police tended to ignore cases involving poor or transient women, and also women with drug abuse or criminal records. Such negligence by the police were not widely known by the public, however with the help of the Inquirer team this issue was brought to light. Many Woman’s groups requested the police department to go back over all the rape accusations and make sure they were properly investigated (Winburn). They also demanded for reform in the rape squad unit for the Philadelphia police and also wanted to check on their performance. If the reporters never took on this problem and investigated it so deeply, Philadelphia could still be facing the same problem today and there would be even more victims whose voices were halted by the police’s lack of effort.

In 2002 the Boston Globe’s Globe Spotlight Team published an article which investigated former priest John J. Geoghan for child molestation charges. According to Globe Spotlight Team’s article, “Since the mid-1990s, more than 130 people have come forward with horrific childhood tales about how former priest John J. Geoghan allegedly fondled or raped them during a three-decade spree through a half-dozen Greater Boston parishes” (Rezendes). The most upsetting thing about this is that the Catholic Church knew of his tendency of child abuse and yet they continued to move him from church to church. Every time there was a sexual abuse...


Cited: Boston.com. The New York Times, n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2014. .
"English Definition of "Investigative Journalism" Cambridge Dictionaries Online. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2014. .
"The Importance and Dangers of Investigative Journalism – Urban Times." Urban Times RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2014. .
Rezendes, Michael. "Church Allowed Abuse by Priest for Years." BostonGlobe.com. Ed. Walter V. Robinson. N.p., 6 Jan. 2002. Web. 13 Apr. 2014. .
McBride, Kelly. "How Student Reporters Ended Discrimination among University of Alabama Sororities | Poynter." Poynter. The Poynter Institute, 2 Oct. 2013. Web. 13 Apr. 2014. .
Rezendes, Michael. "Ariz. Abuse Case Names Bishop, 2 Priests." BostonGlobe.com. N.p., 20 Aug. 2002. Web. 13 Apr. 2014. .
Winburn, Jan. "Chapter 7: Investigative Reporting." Shop Talk and War Stories: American Journalists Examine Their Profession. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin 's, 2003. 147-51. Print.
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