Investigative Journalism: Speak Truth to Power

As each new day brings another story of corrupt politicians, unprincipled officials, and government boondoggles, there remains one strong and effective way to fight back: a free and vocal press.

Our founding fathers made freedom of the press the First Amendment to our Constitution for a reason. A free press separates democracies from dictatorships, by giving reporters both the power and the duty to hold the powerful accountable by bringing the truth to the masses.

Investigative journalism, the most effective weapon of the press, has all but disappeared from many newsrooms. This comes as a result of the struggling newspaper industry that can no longer afford to invest the time and resources to dive in and uncover the details that are often overlooked.

The disappearance of the investigative reporter has left many wondering: how is corruption supposed to be exposed? Who is delving into the mountains of paperwork to find a misuse of taxpayer funds at the mayor’s office? Who is protecting the public from fraud, abuse, and exploitation?

We need enterprising, truth-seeking investigative reporters more than ever, even as the news media changes. Our state-based journalists at Watchdog.org, a project of the Franklin Center, are bringing back the hard-nosed reporting of yesteryear, using today’s technology to bring the stories that matter directly to the people.

Jason Stverak is president of the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity. This post is a revised version of a chapter in the Institute for Humane Studies Public Policy Career Guide.

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