Evolution Of Investigative Journalism

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Journalism has always been an important issue in America’s democracy and it is reflected on the United States Constitution as the First Amendment is freedom of the press. One of the main traditions of the American press has been investigative journalism, which “beneath the surface of everyday news events” (Aucoin, 225) to expose government corruption, environmental pollution and many other social problems. It has been portrayed in films several times depicting some of the most relevant cases of corruption in the States that later on I will analyze in this paper. Modern Investigative journalism is part of a reporting evolution that began in times of the colonies, a period in which journalism was not what it is nowadays. Freedom of the press…show more content…
The act expired and freedom of speech was stablished as the First Amendment of the US Constitution began to have a legal effect and tradition. The Amendment says: “Congress shall make no law […] abridging the freedom of speech or of the press” (Overholser and Jamaison, 20). In 1830, cheaper newspapers, the penny papers, for a mass audience were introduced and targets expanded to social conditions and not only politics were their focus. Advertising became here the main financial support for those newspapers. The press began to separate itself from political parties and when the Civil War ended the press declared itself independent, a movement resulting in a “more adversarial position towards politicians” (Aucoin, 26). By the mid nineteenth century, reliable evidence became an “investigative standard” (27) using official documents for the base of their accusations. Investigative reporting kept evolving into a more objective and unbiased journalism. In the next years, sensationalism became relevant in this tradition of exposure and undercover reporting became a weapon for investigative journalism. From this situation “detective journalism” was born and it is what we call investigative reporting today. The turn of the century was characterized by the work of Henry Demarest Lloyd that influenced the next generation of journalists and, in general, the evolution of modern American…show more content…
Reporters thought that being an investigator or watchdog of government practices and that they had to control the content of their stories. Moreover, the mistrust produced by the government along with new technologies led journalist to start new investigations. Trust in government failed due to several scandals and lies to the press made by Senator Joseph McCarthy or President Eisenhower’s administration. Their lies were accepted by truth by the American press until it was discovered they were lying intentionally. Furthermore, to this reemergence also contributed the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War, event that “eroded the press’s confidence in government leaders” (Aucoin, 227). Nevertheless, the highlight of this reestablishment of investigative journalism was the Watergate case, a scandal of corruption in the Nixon administration exposed by Washington Post reporters Robert Woodward and Carl Bernstein and that ended with the resignation of President Nixon. This was the main investigative report that marked the highlight of investigative journalism in America. It constituted the bases of Modern American Investigative

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