Accountability journalism is a type of reporting where stories are written about people, companies or industries that have authority/influence in our lives. That means holding political officials to a certain moral set of standards or making sure business leaders have integrity and are fair. Usually this type of journalism is reported on using the beat system because a journalist can establish connections with people in the field and credibility as time passes.
In years past these investigative journalists were known as “muckrakers” and the term was made popular by President Teddy Roosevelt. To public officials and factory owners, these reporters were seen as pests who were up to no good. However, these men and women felt compelled to tell the public about the community they were living in. Because of their hard work, several reforms were made in the early 1900s.
Upton Sinclair’s book, The Jungle, exposed the filth of the meat packing industry. But he didn’t just write about the sanitation issues, he also wrote about the exploitation of the workers. Because of his efforts, Congress created the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 which eventually led to the formation of the Food and Drug Administration. Ida Tarbell’s articles about Standard Oil Company paved the way for legislation about monopolies and business ownership in the United States. In recent years, the power of investigation led two reporters at the Washington Post to write articles that eventually led to the only resignation of a United States President during the Watergate scandal.
Accountability journalism has seen a decline over the past several decades due to the lack of funding and the decline of readership. Investigative stories take time and money; both are commodities that no media outlet has an abundance of right now. When I first decided I wanted to be a journalist it was because I heard a professor say that being a journalist gives a voice to the voiceless. Many people don’t have a voice because they don’t have money. What’s worse is that the advocates who used to fight for them (journalists, reporters, etc.) don’t have money now either.