The dangers of investigative journalism

Since the year 2016, the number of journalists that have been killed outside of conflict zones has continued to increase steadily. Investigative journalism has become a dangerous career.

For the past decade, a journalist has been killed every 4 days while covering different events, and 9 times out of 10 the murder goes unresolved. In 2022 alone, there were 39 targeted killings due to the journalists’ work.

Many investigative journalists today are facing retaliation, suppression, and harassment because of what they have to do for their job. As the number of incidents continues to rise, more and more journalists are faced with dangers that are now normal to experience in this career field.

Recently, an American journalist was arrested while covering events in Russia. In March of 2023, journalist Evan Gershkovich was arrested in Yekaterinburg, Russia during a reporting trip. Moscow charged Gershkovich with espionage while he was reporting. Gershkovich is currently being held in a Russian prison until May 29 of this year. 

This is one of the most recently and most well-known events of journalists facing harassment. Every time a journalist is targeted due to their work it leads to suppression. Everyone should be able to receive news and story coverage from reliable sources, and with the rise of attacks on journalists, citizens no longer have that. 

In June of 2021, freelance journalist Dominic “Dom” Phillips and Brazilian environmental activist Bruno Araújo Pereira went missing in Brazil’s Amazonas State. After searching for them, local police determined that they had been killed the day they went missing. After this happened, Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro, spoke out about their disappearance. Bolsonaro was very dismissive with the killings, saying “anything can happen” when engaging in “adventure”. 

At this point, it is very clear that journalists are being targeted so they do not release stories that could expose someone. In these cases, the people with higher authority, like government officials, have more power in the situation and can try to get away with crimes as they do not want their secrets to be revealed to the public. 

As officials get elected and run to be elected multiple times, they do not want journalists covering stories that could cause less people to vote for them. Some of these people will go to extreme circumstances to avoid losing the power that they once had. 

This continues to happen in the United States as well. On September 2, 2021 journalist Jeff German was a victim of the violence that comes with journalism. German was working for a Las Vegas Review-Journal covering politics and corruption. Shortly after covering this story, he was found killed near his home. During the case, a local government official, who was being reported by German, was arrested and charged with the murder of Jeff German.

This example of journalists being targeted for their work is clear proof that at times, people with power are abusing their power to silence the press. Clearly they do not want their own secrets being revealed, and some of them are willing to go far to stop this from happening. 

Investigative journalism is so important in today’s culture. Having a way to get unbiased and truthful coverage is something all citizens should have the right to. This information also shows patterns of what people with power are willing to do to keep a hold on the power they already have. Government officials are the majority of these people due to the fact that they don’t want to reveal secrets about themselves that could affect them in the future in regards to losing power. Events like these have become more regular and we continue to see more targeted attacks happening. The patterns of rising violence over the years proves that investigative journalism is in fact a dangerous career path.