Sunday, October 4, 2009


By Brandon Wheeler

In 1964 the Philadelphia Bulletin won a Pulitzer Prize in a new category, Investigative Reporting. The Philadelphia Bulletin won the award for the exposing of police officers that were running an illegal lotto game from the police station. This event marked a new time in American journalism. In the next decade, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post uncovered the Watergate scandal with the Nixon Administration. This single action would lead to the popularity of investigative reporting and give journalism a new image (Kovach and Rosenstiel, pg 140).

When periodicals came to be in England in the 17th century, they were investigative. The early investigative periodicals is the reason the press has constitutional freedom. These periodicals started the watchdog role by making the government more transparent. They aimed to go and find the news. It is the role of journalists to monitor power.

Today's watchdog journalism is being threatened and cut down. The corporate dualities of today's media have aimed the watchdog role in favor of babying audiences from the search for truth to entertainment news. For example go to and you will find that about 20 percent (depending on a given day) of their latest news headlines are niche news and pop culture news. With more headlines being that of interesting or odd news that perks the readers interest. But where is the news regarding the government and what it is doing well and not so well? Where is the role of the watchdog? Oh wait, that's right its ding off and fading into oblivion with the rest of the American culture, because truth be told most people don't care and don't want to come home from work and think and search for the truth. They want to come home, sit down, relax, and be entertained.

The media companies do nothing to change this either. How could they? With so many channels and the internet and cooperate owners who care nothing about making money themselves (after all who can blame them, the doors will close with no money). They are forced to provide news that requires little thought and entertainment news, because that's what the audience wants. There is so much competition out there for peoples attention that the journalist don't have the power anymore. The people dictate what they want to see and want the media to cover. Still that is no excuse. The media's primary purpose is to inform the citizens so they can be informed and self governing. Today's media needs to get back to the role of the watchdog and inform the people of what the government is doing, what they do well, and what they need to do better. It is our write as citizens to know and it is our obligation as journalists to inform them. In a way it is a catch 22 I suppose. I sit here and call for the watchdog role and when journalist do fulfill that role, people look at them as sneaky and untrustworthy.

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