Out of the mire, a banal but chilling proposition starts to emerge – that we decide on the innocence or guilt of a plaintiff according to whether we like them or not. Legality, our conviction in the rights and wrongs of the matter, trails our desires (whether the reverse would be preferable is not clear). Whenever I read biographies of Plath, I always have the suspicion that someone or other is being criminalised simply for being who they were.
Yet there has been very little reflection on the weaknesses of investigative journalism as it’s currently practiced. All too often, investigative journalism tends to focus on elite (mis)conduct, failing to recognise that the power dynamics at grassroots level should constitute the stuff of investigative journalism too. Investigative stories are often confined to the major urban areas. Many journalists have been overly reliant on a narrow range of sources, especially leaks and tip-offs from disgruntled political figures, to break stories. Many of these stories are passed for investigative journalism, but in fact are not. Leaks and tip off-driven journalism can make journalists lazy, discouraging proactive investigation and making them susceptible to manipulation by hidden political agendas. At a deeper level, it can reinforce the tendency for news agendas to be set on a top-down basis. – Jane Duncan at SACSISBACK TO TOP