Date: 27 January 2017
Subject: The Big Chill: Investigative Reporting in the Current Media Environment
MLA Citation: “Journalism Research.” Journalism Research. SPJ.org, n.d. Web. 27 Jan. 2017.
Ever since the dawn of the twentieth century, investigative journalists have dug deep below the surface to expose corruption and bring the truth to the public. Though these “muckrakers” are called something different now, simply investigative journalists, their purpose has remained the same- to “bring about positive change in existing laws or to expose wrongdoing.” However, in recent years, the public has become increasingly hostile against the press, seeing it as a corrupt corporation within itself, resenting it, and even suing it for publishing “biased” stories. How will this affect the future and integrity of the industry? Will the world of journalism eventually alter or censor its publications in order to please the public, and if so how can we work to stop it? Publishing true facts and stories, no matter how badly people don’t want to hear it, is a vital part of society, teaching the population about the world they live in.
A major lesson I have learned from this article is that as a journalist, I constantly have a target on my back. Big corporations seeking to maintain a good reputation will stop at nothing to defame and denounce any journalist who attempts to expose them for their evils, so journalists have to be cautious and pick their battles. However, this article has also revealed that major news organizations and publications are increasingly becoming just as afraid of a tarnished reputation as big businesses are. The authors say that “Within a recent period of two years, three major news organizations issued retractions to major investigative pieces. The San Jose Mercury News in the summer of 1996 published an exhaustive and detailed series about a possible connection between the CIA and crack-cocaine sales in this country. Within a year, Mercury News editors were recanting some of the series’ findings.” We, as journalists, cannot become afraid of a little backlash or criticism. If we do, we begin to cower away and you see results like the ones mentioned above, which sacrifice the integrity in journalism and betray the very foundations the industry is built upon. Writers such as Upton Sinclair and Ida B. Wells revolutionized journalism by stopping at nothing to reveal the truth to everyday people to improve their everyday lives. The purpose of the press, as explained both by Joseph Pulitzer himself as well as the authors of this article, is to craft and deliver reports of the events all around the world to the people they effect. This does not exclude controversial, tragic, or violent stories, and if publications’ confidence begin to wane when publishing this kind of information, society will be lacking in its depth of understanding of the world around them. Therefore, as journalists, we must remain courageous and confident.
Furthermore, I learned that “Money Lust” is affecting the stories published by large publications. Due to want of large profits, companies are increasingly publishing only stories that they know will make them big bucks. Whether those are sponsored by a well-known and wealthy corporation or simply something that customers want to read, they are taking the place of necessary local news stories and “replacing in depth and interpretive stories on front pages across the country.” How can we as a society stop this corruption? Supporting local publications and broadcasts is a great place to start. By showing support for local journalists, society can use their money as their mouths and show that they truly care about knowing the truth about what is happening in their region.