InvestigativeJournalism: The Panama Papers Case
ThePanama Papers as published by the international investigativejournalists provide a case to view and understand the important rolethat investigative journalisms plays in the world. Investigativejournalism is an important part of the modern day journalism as themedia seeks to provide deeper information and insight about aparticular issue in the society. The use of investigative skills ofinvestigative journalists gives this niche of journalism a value thatgoes beyond just covering stories and reporting them. This makesinvestigative journalism, not only an important section of the media,but also an impactful reporting that influences public opinion.Citing the Panama Papers, the facts of the cases exposed can be usedto explore the impact that investigative journalism can have in theworld.
ThePanama Papers data leak exposed the millions of documents from thePanamanian law firm called the MossackFonseca (ICIJ1).The documents exposed how foreign individuals, firms and distinctpersonalities use the firm to open offshore companies and accounts(ICIJ1).The offshore companies and accounts allowed them to engage infinancial transactions that are disallowed by their laws and thegeneral ethics of finance(Semple1). Among the people who used the law firm for the suspicioustransactions were wealthy individuals and public officials, and somefamous politicians (Rutenberg 1).
Theexposure of these types of dealings with international investigativejournalists presents a practical view of the impact that this type ofreporting provides. One of the impacts is that it exposes informationthat is kept from the normal public eye. According to Rutenberg, theexposure of such information by investigative journalists and leakslike Wikileaks led to a victory of transparency (Rutenberg 1). Theexposure creates a way in which people who are led or governed by thepeople involved in such criminal deals get to know about them. Forinstance, the people got to know the true character of thepoliticians and government officials who got involved in thesuspicious deals.
Investigativejournalisms impacts the public by changing their perception about thepeople involved in the issues being exposed. In this case, the publicand the world were informed of the suspicious characters that wereinvolved in the scandals exposed. The exposure changed the way peopleviewed the individuals listed in this list of the Panama Papers. Thepublic officials and leaders named by the Panama Papers lostcredibility among the people and in front of the world in general.
Asa result of this exposures, there will be changes in the waygovernments regulate business deals in different countries. One ofthe main ways that will change because of the exposure is tax laws.At the same time, the exposure will change the financial ecosystem(BobsGuide1). Some countries will change their tax laws, especially the clausesthat allow offshore companies to operate in their countries. This isbecause the tax laws in a country are used by the foreign companiesby taking advantages of the loophole clauses that allow them tooperate and pay less tax or evade taxes (BobsGuide1).
Inaddition, the exposure led to scrutiny on the Panamanian banking andfinancial system(Semple1). This impact might make governments worldwide to require moredisclosure about the ownership and directorship of offshorecompanies. The disclosure requirement will obligate companies todescribe the details of their directors, both direct owners andowners in trust, and even silent shareholders. This will prevent thepossibility of a country’s national to register an offshore accountor a company and use it to trade in the country.
Theexposure by the Panama Papers is much more significant compared tothe other exposures by the Wikileaks and Edward Snowden’s leak ofNSA records. For one, this is because the Panama Papers exposure wasobjective and is free from world politics as compared with theWikileaks of the NSA records leaked. While the Wikileaks and NSAleaks were aimed at exposing issues that had political angles, thePanama Papers were objective and were well researched by a consortiumof professional journalists, who had no subjective interests in thestory.
Anothermajor comparison is the focus of the Panama Papers exposure comparedto the Wikileaks and NSA exposures. The Panama Papers focused onbusiness transactions that were facilitated by a law firm. The focusof the journalists involved was objective enough to present documentsand facts of the scandal as they related to the businesstransactions. However, the impact of the Wikileaks exposures isperhaps more impactful on the political angle, rather than thebusiness transactions. While the Wikileaks has a bigger impact on theinternational politics level, the Panama Papers have a greater impacton the local scene of the countries that the names individuals comefrom.
ThePanama Papers provide a case of the role of investigative journalismin the modern world by exposing deep information held secret from thepublic. The exposure of the Panama Papers by internationalinvestigative journalists shows how the work of the media can beimportant in the world. Through the exposure, internationaljournalists successfully led to a change in the perception that thepublic have on the people named in the exposure. At the same time,the exposure by the Panama Papers as well as other leaks provides abasis of governments to change laws and policies to avoid theoccurrence of such type of business. The impact of this case andother cases of investigative reports shows the importance of themedia and investigative journalism in the world today.
BobsGuide, Howwill the Panama Papers leak affect the financial ecosystem?Web,Accessed 03 May, 2016,<http://www.bobsguide.com/guide/news/2016/May/3/how-will-the-panama-papers-leak-affect-the-financial-ecosystem>
ICIJ,The Panama Papers TheInternational Consortium of Investigative Journalists,Web, Accessed 03 May, 2016, <https://panamapapers.icij.org>
Semple, Kirk.,Ahmed,Azam., and Lipton,Eric. PanamaPapers Leak Casts Light on a Law Firm Founded on Secrecy. Web,Accessed 03 May, 2016,<http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/11/business/media/panama-papers-leak-signals-a-shift-in-mainstream-journalism.html>
Rutenberg,Jim. Panama Papers Leak Signals a Shift in Mainstream Journalism.Web,Accessed 03 May, 2016,<http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/11/business/media/panama-papers-leak-signals-a-shift-in-mainstream-journalism.html>