I am nearly complete with this article request that came through my feed at Answers.com…unfortunately, that site is experiencing random, constantly changing SSL issues, especially when traffic on their server surges in the early AM.
To make sure I don’t lose the big-ass clip I just wrote…I will post it here. Heck you might even learn something. I also have a fictionalized story that places one of favorite characters, Dr. D (based on a real person)…at a large manufacturing concern based on a company I devoted many of my best years to.
It is (hopefully) funny, weird, absurd, entertaining and coming soon. If you ever sat in cubicle, had over 10 bosses or were forced to attend HR seminars about sexual harassment quarterly…. If you ever worked your finger to the bone, figuratively or literally for any organization, only to be tossed out like yesterday’s garbage once you were no longer needed ….you will laugh…at minimum…I hope. It began as real-life anecdotes about me, but it contained too much information that when thoughtfully pieced-together could be a violation of my non-disclosure agreement when I retired from this manufacturing concern in mid-2011. So Dr. D from JPL will take the place of Tapper and all the names dates places and specifics of the company will be changed.
Ok so “Who created…blah blah..blah whatever, etc. et al.”
Investigations and the act of reporting the information found publicly, is as old as the verbal tradition itself. Thus it would be impossible to define the first investigative journalist or identify/give credit to a “creator.”
What I can provide are some historical landmarks in the public dissemination of information that otherwise would’ve remained protected or private.
The creation of movable type and the subsequent publication of the first Bible in English “The King James Bible,” was a piece of Investigative Journalism in itself as the authors had to:
Acquire a Latin Bible. These were all ceremoniously hand-copied and artistically ascribed by Holy Roman Catholic Monks …in today’s dollars they’d cost seven-figures, easily
Translate it adequately
Print copies to make hidden/protected information available to anyone who could read English.
Not get killed in the process. This took the stranglehold The Holy Roman Empire had over Christianity and opened The Bible to individual interpretation as opposed to Catholic Priests’ interpretation – this essentially sparked the Reformation…leading to another daring piece of (what I qualify as) Investigative Journalism.
The Reformation and the creation of Protestants officially began when Martin Luther (1483-1546) who’d grown heavily skeptical, disillusioned, offended and sorrowed by the hypocrisy and corruption of The Catholic Church, nailed 95 grievances to the chapel door at at The University of Wittenberg, where he was a professor of theology.
Aided by the same technology (movable type) used to disseminate The Bible in English. Printers distributed the “95 Theses” across Europe, it was read by thousands within a few weeks.
I consider this a massive historical achievement in Investigative Journalism because Luther had the chutzpah to report his interpretation of truth, publicly, get it published and initiate an overhaul of a major religion despite the fact there was price on his head the moment that first nail went in
More churchy-related Investigative Journalism. Galileo investigated the Cosmos using advances in ocular technology and his mathematical and scientific expertise. Before his time, it was commonly accepted by pagans AND Judeo-Christians that the Earth was Obviously the center of the Universe. This did not reconcile with the motion of planets like Mars and Venus through our sky as the year progresses. Their motion only made sense if we made a paradigm shift to a Helio-centric model.
Galileo, in an unprecedented show of bravery, took his findings directly to the Catholic Priests in Italy. Stating unequivocally that the Earth and all planets revolved around the Sun.
He did this during The Inquisition of all times! He was subsequently tried and convicted of heresy.
Despite all this…he was NOT executed, instead receiving a life-sentence: house-arrest.
Why he was only threatened with torture and summary execution I’ll never know, perhaps one or more of the Priests agreed? Or respected his bravery and dedication to finding the truth and reporting it?
Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense.”
This equally brave soul was fed up with the established authority of the day. In the 18th Century, this was The British Empire.
Paine attacked hypocrisy and corruption. He challenged the authority of the British Crown in the Colonies
While not precisely Investigative Journalism, again a dangerous but honest interpretation of truth was put forth for public consumption and interpretation. His fiery prose is heavily credited with uniting the 13 Colonies to declare Independence and choose to die fighting for it.
His bravery and cavalier attitude of “consequences be damned,” as demonstrated by the other authors listed is the bravest, most utilitarian and powerful form of communication there is.
This has become a central tenet to all professional journalist:
Seek Truth and Report it!
Frequently Sinclair and the other Muckrakers of The Gilded Age are credited with the advent of modern Investigative Journalism.
The Gilded Age was dubbed so because though it looked nice on the outside; all shiny and bright, just underneath the surface was cruelty, injustice…the ugliness of the late 19th Century was “Gilded” by Economic and Political forces.
“The Jungle” was serialized and later published – a fictional hard-knock-life story based on the plight of the modern American laborer in 1906.
This story follows a man who gets mixed up in all the unpleasantness of the day. Most notable is the job the main character takes at a meat-packing plant that carelessly distributes meat, packaged in an unsafe, inferior manner wrought with germs …bad germs
Sinclair wanted to highlight the plight and mistreatment of men, women and children locked into the these brutal, unsafe factories.
He admitted later that no one cared that poor people were being abused in the factories. They did however – stand up and take notice to the fact that meat-packing plants were distributing bacteria infested meat…some of it overflowing with Tuberculosis.
As expected, the Establishment – namely President Teddy Roosevelt immediately called him a “crackpot.” Unfortunately for the man who “spoke softly, but carried a big stick,” Public outcry put the screws the the Legislature and The Bureau of Chemistry was created the SAME YEAR
Today we call it The Food and Drug Administration.
Hence, Investigative Journalism did not need to be created. It always was and always will be. When done effectively as I’ve outlined. It rights-wrongs, serves justice, expands the body of human insight and knowledge, keeps the public safe and informed, protects them from evil forces concentrated in political and/or economic power. Investigative Journalists have the power to change the world for the better…one of the main reasons I do it.