December 9, 2023


Serving the university community

Investigative journalism enhances good governance

Soremekun S. Seyifunmi

Behind every successful man, there is usually a supportive woman, they say. Behind good governance, there is a working journalism, I say. It is safe to call journalism the fourth arm of the government, after the executive, legislative and the judiciary. Its significant impact on society has placed it in that spot. Journalism is crucial to good governance, just like a predicate to a complete sentence. 

Journalism is a form of communication, but different from other forms because of its one-way form; from the journalists to the audience. It is the act of gathering and presenting newsy information. It is also giving an account of happenings in the society to the people, and while this can happen in a variety of ways, one crucial type is INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM.

Investigative journalism is simply the act of uncovering evil deeds or acts. It is the unearthing of illegal works that a person or group does not want out. Femi Falana (SAN) describes investigative journalism as the act of “unmasking serious crimes, political corruption or wrong doings”. In doing this, the government is not excluded.

The rule of law is a key characteristic of good governance with the principle of checks and balances among the various arms of government. While  it is true that the three organs of government check the activities of one another, there is a need for an outside arm responsible for checking those three. This is where investigative journalism comes in. 

The role of investigative journalism in promoting good governance cannot be over emphasized as it acts as check and balances in terms of its reportage of the activities of governance to the people. And this should be done with little or no hindrance.

Actually, investigative journalism, without government hindrance, is a guiding light that should be welcomed when there is really nothing to hide and there’s much to improve. It allows for ongoing checks by the people of the activities of the government. Governments can however make certain efforts to conceal their activities from the media.

Section 2 of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution states that; “The press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people”. In other words, it is criminal for the government to hinder journalists from doing their work.

The media have to be truly independent of the government  as it is only this way that there would be good governance. In most developed countries, Investigative Journalists do their job with little or no hindrance from the government. The same is not the case in underdeveloped and developing countries, Nigeria inclusive.

Apart from its ultimate goal, checks and balances, a working investigative journalism will bring corruption to a very minimal level. Everyone will be mindful of due process in all they do, as they know there’d be an undercover agent behind the scenes checking them.

So, of all the issues hindering good governance in this country, if that of investigative journalism is solved, then we are a few steps closer to good governance. 

Let us allow investigative journalists to do their job as “watch dogs” effectively, and in return we get good governance. It’s a win-win for everyone!

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