“Don’t be afraid. But keep them afraid.” – Seymour Hersh
This week, we have seen a huge leak of millions of documents concerning our world’s elite, and not for the first time! The #PanamaPapers are the next phenomenon to join the leagues of notoriety of the #expensesscandal or #WikiLeaks or #snowdenleaks scandals. The content of the revelations linking to the world’s major movers and shakers, our governments and crucial public figures. However, I do not wish to dwell on the content of such exposures, but instead focus on the fact we are aware of this information.
And isn’t it great that we know these sorts of practices exist? Yet, simultaneously, it is deeply concerning that it takes such a grand revelation to bring such illegality or immorality to the public light. It makes one wonder if the elites of this world can get away with something like this for so long, what else is still to be discovered? As stated, on a previous blog by Alex Kerr earlier this week – the Panama Papers are only ‘the tip of the iceberg’. This is a mere one company in one jurisdiction. Just take a second to imagine how many others lucrative companies are out there in numerous tax havens. Also consider how much they have probably just stepped up their security to avoid a similar leak happening to them? Then think how many other morally corrupt practices are currently taking place worldwide? It is terrifying to think about what issues of public importance can go on behind the closed doors of the rich and powerful.
This is why we need our investigatory journalists – people with their fingers on the world pulse, to act as a watchdog for us all. These global issues of national security, tax evasion, corruption (to name but a few) need to be exposed or where does it end? If there is no way to find out and publicise these misdemeanours, how do we hold the rich and powerful – in particular, the ones we elect – to account?! Politicians must be scrutinised, arguably, to an even higher degree than other figures. They are elected to serve the people of their communities and if they are in any way infringing on our right of proper representation through their actions or omissions, it is essential we are aware so we can act on the knowledge and keep our politicians honest and accountable.
Sadly, we all know that journalists can be unethical – sometimes with devastating consequences. In recent memory, this has been exemplified by the phone hacking scandals, in particular the News of the World’s chilling tampering of the voicemails of a missing teenager, Milly Dowler– giving false hope to her family and interfering with a police investigation. It is evident that actions like these cannot be condoned in any way and regulations must be introduced to prevent this occurring again. Of course, freedom of press is essential, but must be countered with the responsibility of morally sound reporting. But we cannot let these cases limit the power of our investigative journalists to such a degree we cannot uncover these sobering truths. I believe the majority of investigative journalists are good people, who instead of using unethical methods of investigation, actually aim to expose the unethical methods used by others to conceal corruption or crime, or hold their exclusive retention on power or wealth.
We must recognise the importance of investigatory journalism and continue to support, protect, champion and congratulate those working in the field as they fight wrongdoing, hypocrisy, corruption, illegality, inequality and immorality simply by exposing it.
Our ‘world watchers’ must be respected and appreciated for the work they do creating a more honest and transparent planet for us all through their reports.
Equalities Officer, SNP Youth Glasgow