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.
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