Journalists are professionals who go round collecting information and later forward their information which is then presented by media houses as news to the public.
Journalists play a very important role in informing the general public about what happens within their vicinity and beyond because the rest of us are busy with our usual activities to make ends meet thus we never bother to find out what others are doing. According to Ward there are some people who think that journalists are out to make money which is very wrong because the information they collect is not only useful to us but its also referred by law enforcement agencies and the criminal justice system because the journalists act as the watchdog for these agencies (32). Journalism as a career is not just about taking photos and interviewing people but it’s a calling because for a journalist to collect reliable information it takes them a lot of time and commitment. This is due to the fact that they have to go to places where other people are afraid of going. That is why people who do illegitimate things avoid journalists because they know their activities will be unveiled if the journalists report about them. Journalists risk losing their lives when they visit places which are not safe such as battle fields. The law enforcers rely on journalists as their source of information because they are the people on the ground, thus they know almost everything about events that are taking place in their areas of coverage. The videos journalists shoot can be used in a court of law as evidence against a criminal.
Journalists are renowned for unveiling issues that would have gone without being noticed thus they should be appreciated because it costs them a lot of resources to collect information and in fact some have been killed in line of duty. They endure a lot of humiliation and suffering just to get a piece of information. Many are times when journalists assign themselves the duty of watching whether people adhere to the law. Wahl-Jorgensen and Hanitzsch argue that the law enforcers would want to do the same thing but they can’t do it without being recognized because they don’t have the required skills, but journalists can easily integrate this task into their daily routine (14). The law enforcers are cautioned to execute their duties with care because they can put the life of a journalist in danger because more often the people who convey information to journalists demand to remain anonymous. Therefore, the law enforcers are recommended to respond in a way that does not imply they obtained their information from the media.
The information collected by journalists is not broadcasted without eliminating certain parts because it’s not advisable to leak the entire footage to the public; some details might incite the public to act in a strange manner which could threat national security. For instance, when there is civil unrest the media houses are not allowed to display clips that show how people are killing each others because it might incite people to fight back in retaliation. When the time comes when criminals have to be brought to the books of justice the clips and interviews that were collected by journalists are referred but the justice system exercises caution not to reveal the source of their information. This information is also used when the judges are giving their verdict and the prosecutors use the same information to press charges because their arguments would not be valid without verified facts hence they enforce law when they are sure they have enough evidence against the accused. Cases of journalists being killed have been on the increase because in a situation where they are reporting in a country that is not in good terms with their nationality they are perceived to be spies for their governments thus they are met with a lot of hostility. Sometimes journalists have to employ law enforcers to accompany them in areas where they are likely to be resisted and in such scenarios confrontations may occur which could cause their equipments to be destroyed. Journalists are very important because they are usually the first people to arrive in a crime scene and any other natural calamity that may happen they are the first to know. When law enforcers want to notify the general public about something that concerns security such as the most wanted criminal they employ the media to broadcast their information.
Thus the relationship between the media and law enforcers is a two-way traffic. In the past decades media houses did not have freedom to express their views but since most countries are adopting democracy the journalists are free to collect the desired information (Wahl-Jorgensen & Hanitzsch 13). In fact the media houses are keeping policy makers on their toes because in developed countries journalists are allowed to report inside the parliament to enlighten the public on what goes inside the parliament. In sincerity the scandals that have generated heated debates currently and in the recent past were brought into the limelight by the media. The journalists evaluate such scandals thoroughly but then they have to carry out their evaluations in secrecy without attracting attention because they could be apprehended by the criminal whom they are investigating. From this analysis, it is clear that journalism major is directly related to criminal justice and law enforcement.
Wahl-Jorgensen, Karin and Thomas Hanitzsch. The handbook of Journalism studies.
New York: Taylor & Francis, 2009. Ward, Stephen. The Invention of Journalism Ethics: The path to objectivity and beyond. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2005.