I often get asked by colleagues, friends and viewers Ben, why is it that so many news outlets are biased? Can’t we just get the facts minus all the spin?
Well, what they are really asking me is a larger question: Do you think journalism is dead?
Not at all. But what is journalism? and moreso, what is investigative journalism? It seems many have forgotten what it means.
I’ll start by stating what investigative journalism isn’t. It’s not about force-feeding the public stories which are slanted in favor of huge corporate interests and presenting them as “facts”. It’s also not about serving the interests of one political party over another. Most importantly, it’s not a popularity contest.
As for what journalism is, let’s start with the word INVESTIGATIVE, which means specializing in uncovering and reporting hidden information. Journalism is also a GRASSROOTS endeavor, meaning by the people, for the people. And then what about an actual definition of the word JOURNALISM itself? Turns out it means the collection and editing of news for presentation through media. Notice how I didn’t say sensationalism. Or bias? I said news.
I think journalism can be about even more. To me, it should be a profession based around INTEGRITY. At the end of the day, if adherence to moral and ethical principles is not part and parcel in how we receive our information, what are we left with? I also contend that investigative journalism should be FEARLESS. No question should be too tough to ask, no story too controversial, no subject matter out of bounds.
Journalism should also be a guardian of LIBERTY, in that a free people, should have a free press. And finally, no constraints – ever – should be placed on the search for TRUTH.
That is the definition, the soul, of what investigate journalism should mean. And it is why I work so hard every day to restore what the founders called the fourth estate.