It was a week where journalism was shown to be at its best. As Sepp Blatter stepped down as the president of FIFA amid a wide ranging corruption inquiry among its executives and the 2018 and 2022 bids for the World Cup. At the helm of the investigation’s reporting was the Scottish journalist Andrew Jennings, a long time journalist with the Sunday Times who had written two books on the subject and made a documentary as part of the BBC’s long running Panorama programme.
In an interview with the Washington Post newspaper in the United States, Jennings called himself a document hound, and the job of a journalist is to investigate.
“This journalism business is easy, you know,” Jennings said. “You just find some disgraceful, disgustingly corrupt people and you work on it! You have to. That’s what we do. The rest of the media gets far too cozy with them. It’s wrong. Your mother told you what was wrong. You know what’s wrong. Our job is to investigate, acquire evidence.”
— Nick Malkoutzis (@NickMalkoutzis) June 5, 2015
Public service remit
As I have written before on the pages of this web site, journalism is a profession which people enter not for the thought of much compensation, but for the fact that those who enter it do it for the public service aspect, whether you work for your local paper, for a national paper like the Times or The Guardian, a broadcaster like the BBC, or a site like BuzzFeed.
The men and women of the profession want to inform, engage and enlighten their communities and make society better, and, like Jennings, are happy and content just doing that.
The same can be said for those who exposed the issue of tax avoidance within HSBC earlier this year, the 2009 scandal of MPs expenses, which saw a hung parliament for the first time since 1974 in that following year’s election, and those who uncovered the phone hacking scandal. Changes were made at companies, and laws were made or strengthened to ensure a repeat of events would not occur, and none of this would have happened had it been for journalism.
Don’t take it for granted
While there are still some questions within the industry, and within some publications when it came to coverage of certain subjects including HSBC, as well as what the future lies for British journalism post Leveson and what the industry will look like in an increasingly digital age, it is still a good time for journalism, and the ability for students to enter and study it, and have the prospect to make long term changes for their communities, near or far, is something not to be passed up.
There will always be a need for journalism, irrespective of the medium that one works on, and we will always need it to help us be better people. It’s more than simply informing people on the events of the day. It’s the ability to hold people to account, to cause change, to make society better, and the results include what happened this week in Switzerland.
We’re a better society with journalism, and we should never take it for granted.
What do you think? What role do you think journalism plays today, and what does its role look like in the future? Have your say in the comments section below.