Have you noticed how often journalists are reviled and mocked? While discussing any major issue of the day, at least one person is sure to say in a sanctimonious tone, ‘These journalists! They always blow things out of proportion!’. I’ve heard journalists being described as ‘the most useless elements of society’ and ‘officious and intrusive’. Apparently, these people want journalists to write cozy little articles and maintain a low profile. A reporter who does investigative journalism becomes everyone’s favourite whipping boy and is referred to as ‘Paparazzi’.
‘Paparazzi’ is one of the most annoying catchwords of our times. Any journalist who pokes around a bit, is labeled that. If you’re one of those people who find journalists annoying and about as useful as a pain in the neck, tell me one thing – how do you think you’ll know anything about the world, without journalists doing all the dirty work for you? Quite often, journalists risk their lives to get a story to the public. Take the current crisis in Myanmar. Do you have any idea how many journalists are trying to cover the events from within that country and how many are doing so at serious risk to their lives? Most top Burmese journalists are languishing behind bars because they had the guts to raise questions and seek answers. Even now, some are broadcasting events as they happen in Myanmar. They do so knowing full well what they stand to lose if they’re discovered.
Journalism is not called ‘The Fourth Estate’ for nothing. It is one of the ‘Pillars of Democracy’ and it is what keeps you informed of what your government is doing with your money, or why a certain film actor got off with a light prison sentence or why one group of people is massacring another group. Don’t you want to know these things? Knowledge is power isn’t it? What makes you think you can get it, if you don’t have reporters?
I’m well aware that there are indeed journalists who play dirty. Every profession has its dark side, and journalism is no different. But for a hundred unethical reporters, there are at least a few who are decent and professional. It’s unfair to call them ‘the paparazzi’ for simply trying to do their jobs – which is to inform you about your world.
Note: I have nothing against ‘cozy little articles’ and the people who write them. I quite enjoy them, as a matter of fact. But this post is about why investigative journalism is important, so naturally I haven’t talked about why the other kinds of reports and articles are important too.