Stephen Handelman Discusses Some of The Most Striking Recent Examples of Investigative Journalism (Part 1)

Stephen Handelman

As a prize-winning former columnist, foreign correspondent, and senior writer/columnist for TIME magazine and The Toronto Star, Stephen Handelman is a huge proponent of journalism done right. Understanding the positive impact journalism can have on society, Stephen Handelman will utilize this blog as well as the next to discuss some of the best examples of investigative journalism that may not be as well known as others but still have changed minds and policies.

Stephen Handelman notes that a lot of amazing journalism happens because journalists are willing to place themselves in dangerous situations. A willingness to go out into the field can ensure someone is in the right place at the right time. This was the case when BBC journalists were able to access a tablet on a Libyan battlefield, which revealed facts about the operations of the Wagner group, a private Russian military force which is one of the world’s most secretive and dangerous mercenary groups. The journalists were able to use the information on the tablet to pursue corroborating evidence that proved what most suspected: that the Kremlin was a major supporters of the group’s worldwide activities and was a de facto instrument of Russian foreign policy. The tense relations between the Wagner group leader, a confidante of President Vladimir Putin (and a former caterer) and the Russian military may determine the future direction of Russia’s war in Ukraine,

Investigative journalism often uncovers political corruption. The Center for Strategic & International Studies was able to utilize investigative journalism to reveal that foreign companies were spending billions of dollars to improve China’s shipbuilding industry. In addition to ships to help meet the growing demands of international shipping, journalists revealed that China was also using the funds to develop more warships. This was clearly something of interest to not only neighboring Taiwan but all democracies, including the United States. By providing illustrations and a timeline, readers of the Center for Strategic & International Studies were able to ascertain the growing threat and power of the Chinese Navy.

Stephen Handelman notes that investigative journalism helps provide power to the powerless. When NBC News uncovered what was happening at a secretive Christian boarding home in the 70’s and 80’s, children and women were able to share their horror stories. NBC News reporter Tyler Kingkade, was able to expose stories of domestic abuse, forced adoptions, and years of psychological trauma. The boarding home was giving out babies to families in exchange for just a $250 “love gift.” When the story broke in 2021, one woman was able to reunite with her baby for the first time in 40 years.

Without oversight of powerful institutions and governments, history has shown that atrocities can occur. Investigative reporters help expose injustice, and shed light on activities that the powerful hope to keep hidden. Public reaction to these revelations generates debate, policy change and reform. Be sure to check out the next blog for even more examples of fantastic investigative journalism.

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