Why Democracy Needs an Investigative Journalism

Topics: Journalism, Investigative journalism, Democracy Pages: 6 (1800 words) Published: August 12, 2010

“A free, aggressive, open and bold press is part of the spiritual core of our Democracy”. -Thomas Jefferson
In the world we are living today, investigative journalism is becoming a significant part in our daily lives as it informs, unleash and reveals us the happenings in our community, society, government and in the country. Having the democracy to exercise and express our freedom of the press, which was have been suppressed before, during the Marcos regime, we can say that the Philippine news media’s role is critical to the advancement and preservation of the country’s democratic institutions and way of life and in helping catalyze equitable development.  The issues and problems confronting the Philippine press revolve around its capacity to contribute more substantially to ensuring accountability of government even as it faces accountability challenges of its own. Its journalistic functions can only be made more meaningful by upgrading news media standards and the quality of its outputs in order to continue to earn the trust and confidence of the general public. It is hoped that the enhanced capacity of the investigative journalists will in turn lead to the improvement of the public’s capacity to discern the objective truth and to make more informed decisions and opinions on matters that affect our daily lives. But removing the constraints to effective media performance cannot be left to the industry or market forces alone. Experience shows that a freewheeling approach can only lead to the emergence of a press community that cannot be held accountable except by market forces dominated by a public that fails, or refuses to, distinguish between good and bad journalism. The work of building a mature press in the Philippines requires the involvement and commitment of media to raise the level of skills and of professional standards as well as helping journalists reach a consensus on their role in promoting democracy and development.  Improving the media also requires making information accessible to journalists so that they can report with substance on issues that matter to the public.  A mature press is not possible without access to information. The public also has to be brought into the arena. Building a free press requires a public that understands and appreciates the media’s role, one that can tell the difference between good and bad reporting and demands that irresponsible journalists be held accountable, and one that is willing to be engaged in public life. In this context, press freedom can be considered part of the problem when news media outlets abuse this freedom to beat the competition. This is manifested by the proliferation of poor quality tabloids, gossip and gore masquerading as news on television, and daily doses of vitriol on radio. What is alarming is that much of the public doesn’t seem to mind as long as these are affordable and entertaining.

That’s how investigative journalism really impacts with the kind of democracy we have.


What Is Investigative Journalism?
Investigative journalism is a form of journalism in which reporters deeply investigate a single topic of interest, often involving crime, political corruption, or a scandal. An investigative journalist may spend months or years researching and preparing a report, which often takes the form of an exposé. Most investigative journalism is done by newspapers, wire services and freelance journalists. As part of an investigation, journalists make use of: surveillance techniques

analysis of documents
investigation of technical issues, including scrutiny of equipment and its performance research into social and legal issues
studying sources: archives, phone records, address books, tax records and license records talking to neighbors or other parties
using subscription research sources such as LexisNexis
anonymous sources (for example whistleblowers)
going undercover
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