As young journalists ourselves, we know how important it is to bring honest news and information to the Geneseo campus. Journalism is a valued part of a society—especially when done morally and with integrity—and nothing exemplifies this value more than the achievements of investigative journalism. Investigative journalists uncover both positive and negative truths that everyday people otherwise may not know about. And it is the work of hundreds of dedicated investigative journalists that has brought about one of the most significant and controversial information leaks in recent time.
The Panama Papers are 11.5 million leaked files from the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm: Mossack Fonseca. The leak is monumental because of its connection to rich and powerful world figures and leaders—and their connection to a possible system of corruption.
Some of the top wealthiest figures in the world were able to establish offshore bank accounts with Mossack Fonseca. Offshore bank accounts can be used legally to anonymously secure money, but they can also be used for tax evasion and money laundering. The firm in question has been investigated on suspicion of money laundering in the past, but only after a careful review of the millions of files will we be able to discover if—and to what degree—corruption exists in the world of the wealthy.
According to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the leak is significant because of the high-profile people and corporations involved. Thirty-three companies blacklisted by the United States government and alleged nuclear weapon financiers and arms traders for the Middle East, North Korea and Syria were listed in the files. Several world leaders connected to Russian president Vladmir Putin were involved as well.
The investigative work does not end with the leaking of information; journalists will continue to sort through the data to uncover the truth about Mossack Fonseca's offshore practices and the legal status of all involved. Not only could this be a breakthrough in uncovering the corruption of the wealthy that has existed throughout history, but it is also a breakthrough in investigative journalism.
In a society riddled with biased and corrupt media outlets, it is refreshing to see investigative journalism successfully act out its intended purpose: to inform the public of what goes on behind closed doors.