Monthly Archives: July 2013

The Necessity of Investigative Journalism

Investigative journalism, though often perilous, is important not just to the field of journalism but also to society as a whole. Investigative journalism ranges from “simple news-based enquiries to undercover operations” (Forbes, 2005, p. 1) and has led to the discovery of scandals and acts of corruption in individuals, businesses and governments. Although there is no conclusive definition for investigative journalism, it is often associated with reporting in the public’s interest. To some, investigative journalism is simply “an extension of what good journalism should really be” (Forbes, 2005, p. 1).

To highlight the significance of investigative journalism, one can look at the Watergate scandal that shook the United States in the 1970s. The scandal led to the resignation of then-president Richard Nixon and the aftereffects of the scandal “altered the history of American politics to a great extent” (Naik).

Locally, the results of investigative journalism also hit the headlines, such as the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) scandal in which its Chief Executive Officer T.T Durai was found guilty of misusing funds meant for the running of the NKF. The general public was riled by Durai’s affluent lifestyle and personal expenditure which was a stark contrast to the NKF’s goal of offering as much assistance to its beneficiaries, financial or otherwise.

At present, social media has made it easier for investigative journalism, as the role is somewhat shared between journalists and citizens. Given the large ratio of citizens to journalists, the likelihood of citizens discovering information that could lead to an investigation is higher. Also, public commentary towards a piece of news on social media can help drive the story, as journalists have an obligation to answer to the concerns of the public. The viral nature of social media has also enabled information to be spread rapidly, decreasing the chances of guilty parties “snuffing” out their wrongdoings before it reaches the general public’s knowledge.

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References

Forbes, D. (2005). A Watchdog’s Guide to Investigative Reporting: A Simple Introduction to Principles and Practice in Investigative Reporting: Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.

Naik, A. Watergate Scandal  Retrieved 11 July 2013, from http://www.buzzle.com/articles/watergate-scandal.html

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PR Spin: Ineffective in Current Times

Public relations (PR) has often been viewed negatively because of the existence of spin. PR spin involves “manipulating the truth, hiding facts or presenting false information” (Wolcott, 2011). Spin also occurs when “companies are seen to use deceptive or manipulative tactics to gain the public’s goodwill” (Kennedy, 2010). Spin has led PR practitioners to be labelled as “spin doctors” and created a sense of distrust towards the practitioners and industry. 

But, it could argued that spin is losing its effectiveness. Regulatory bodies for PR, such as the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and the Institute of Public Relations of Singapore (IPRS) have put in place a Code of Ethics that provides practitioners with guidelines on how to go about their work ethically. Also, practitioners themselves see the need to remove spin from their scope of work. As trust with the public is essential in PR work, most practitioners approach their clients with the intention of using aboveboard methods to put the clients in good favour with the public.

Social media has also contributed to the reduction of spin by making it “easier for consumers to learn about the mix-ups and and blunders committed in the name of trying to influence what they buy and believe” (Elliott, 2011). Social media has become the filter where by users can inform one another if a company is genuinely trying to influence the public in the right way or is employing spin to fool them. The speed at which social media transmits such information means that companies must be responsible in their actions. Social media has the power to make known to the world any backlash from the public, and this can be detrimental to the existence and reputation of the said companies. 

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References

Elliot, S. (2011). Redefining Public Relations in the Age of Social Media, The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/21/business/media/redefining-public-relations-in-the-age-of-social-media.html?_r=0

Kennedy, M. (2010). Pubic Relations: Not Just the Spin Zone  Retrieved 4 July 2013, from http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel/public-relations-spin-zone/

Wolcott, D. (2011). Definition of SPIN.  Retrieved from http://losangelespr.blogspot.sg/2011/03/definition-of-spin.html

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