I recently came across an article where the investigative journalism genre was being severely criticized. The writer of the article was of the opinion that nothing justifies investigative journalism. He was of the view that investigative journalism only ends up nurturing a siege mentality, alongside a conspiratorial mindset in the general public. He was also of the view that investigative journalism often ends up telling people some difficult truths, truths that they are not ready for: inconvenient truths as it were, without elaborating on the ‘bigger picture’ around those issues.
As I continued reading through the article, it occurred to me that indeed, there needs to be a discussion on the justifications that exist for investigative journalism. But I also felt that I must make the assertion that whatever comes up in the discussion, we shouldn’t even for a moment consider doing away with investigative journalism. This is because investigative journalism serves to open the eyes of the members of society, to help them understand how the world really works.
To be sure, investigative journalism may not always be very successful in opening the eyes of the members of society, and getting them to fully understand how the world actually works. Perhaps this is as a result of the biases in investigative journalism, and because of the often mediocre training given to investigative journalists. As it were, some of the members of society don’t even have the necessary mental acumen to really grasp how the world works: because the workings of the world are complex and intricate. But investigative journalism does, at the very least, alert them to the fact that things are not the way they appear. And that they shouldn’t always take things at face value. This is very important.
We do have to mention that when we make reference to investigative journalism in this context, we are referring to the truly ‘deep’ investigative journalism: that which seeks to uncover the inner workings, and deeper intricacies in the society and in the government. We are not making reference to the basic version of investigative journalism: like that which seeks to uncover any difficulties that, say, holders of the Gap credit card may be having — only to end up urging the audience to apply for gap credit card towards the end of the (supposedly) investigative journalism piece. Such pieces have their places too: but when we make reference to real investigative journalism, we are referring to something else. We are referring the truly deep investigative pieces. Pieces that seek to uncover the conspiracies of this world. Pieces that seek to truly open the eyes of the masses, and hopefully to enlighten the masses.