Light/Breezes

Light/Breezes
SUNRISE AT DEATH VALLEY-Photo by Tom Cochrun

Friday, April 8, 2016

POWER OF THE PROBE AND LAUGH

REVEALING LIGHT
Sun rise sweeping away pockets of fog in Cambria Ca.
    Investigative journalism resembles the good knight leading a charge against the high and mighty and the rich and powerful.
    An historic effort involving some 370 journalists from more than 75 nations is beginning to shape history itself. Already heads of states are stepping aside, powerful men and women are going into hiding, governments are shifting, legal probes have begun and this is just the beginning of the aftermath of the so called Panama Papers.
   Full disclosure here-much of my professional life was spent doing investigative reporting and documentaries. I'm biased but I consider the work one of life's most valuable callings. The recent film Spotlight provides a realistic glimpse into the work of investigative journalists. It requires devoted attention to detail, massive reading and research, hours spent pouring over documents, interviews, often with those who want nothing to do with you, or with victims of any number of crimes, offenses or disasters. I found time with the hurt, abused, cheated, ignored or helpless a continual grounding in the reason we devote so much of our life to pursing information and facts and looking for evidence of justice, help or understanding.
    The International Consortium of Investigative Journalism is unprecedented. The 11 million leaked documents have been organized and attacked by reporters, editors and writers around the world. Tax cheats, thieves, bankers, lawyers, government insiders in many nations are targeted. A team of journalists is laying out information and doing what no government in the world has done. This kind of exposure will bring heat as well as light.
    The Sacramento Bee, one of the McClatchy news group, a participant in the ICIJ, wrote, "The level of venality revealed by what are being called The Panama Papers, is mind-boggling and infuriating. It's the globalization of corruption and even more contemptible are political leaders who loot the public treasuries of their poor nations."
    Before this is over we will see more names and organizations. Russia's Putin, Mexico's Pena Nieto, the Chinese President, Pakistan's Prime Minister, Saudi Royals, Iceland's Prime Minister, athletes, film and entertainment figures, and others of "the rich and famous" are implicated. 
   Documents now come in digital files. Julian Assange and Edward Snowden are in awe of the Panama Papers leak. In my era leaked documents were Zerox copies of sensitive information hidden or tucked in file cabinets. Stone age, huh? 370 journalists from many nations working together on a digital platform is exhilarating. Traditionally journalists are considered watch dogs. In this era of legislative nursery schools riven with impotence, gridlock and populated by ideological cry babies and in a time of money driven politics, it's encouraging to know the power of the press still has a bark.
AND INVESTIGATIVE LAUGHS
     Some of the best investigative work comes from unlikely messengers-comedians. 
      In the last year HBO's John Oliver has tackled thorny and intricate issues with depth, understanding and ending with a laugh. Last Week Tonight has provided moments when the profane, illegal and corrupt are exposed as absurd and laughable. He is not alone. Seth Meyers of NBC's Late Night achieves humorous elucidation with his segment A Closer Look. Meyers is a brilliant writer. He probes, explores and lampoons leaving you informed and laughing. There is more of the same from Samantha Bee in her weekly TBS Full Frontal. Sam also examines with a lens that can include a contemporary feminist calibration. Her piece on the destruction of rape kits being a case in point.
      Oliver, Meyers and Bee are focused and tough. They are from the Jon Stewart style and school of Journalism. They put before the public critical matters, in an exploratory and examining manner. They are so adroit so they also make us laugh. We pay attention. 
      Whether by an international consortium or clever writing and performance, the matters these communicators bring before us demand our attention despite what power and privilege would prefer. Its good to see innovation in investigative story telling. 
WHERE'S WILSON?
     Driftwood architects had a field day on Moonstone Beach after a few days of active surf. Mindful of something from Castaway.
TO ONE MORE APRIL DAWN
   See you down the trail.

17 comments:

  1. I think we're just seeing the tip of the iceberg when it comes to these Panama Papers.

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    1. I think you are right. More drama and revelations ahead.

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  2. Edward Snowden was quoted as saying the information leds straight to Putin. Wonder how long he'll be allowed to stay in Russia. Or alive.

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    1. Certainly would not want to be in his shoes.

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  3. The LA Times investigative team took down LA County Sheriff Lee Baca. They are working on additional bombshells about the corrupt Orange County DA's office.

    I read the other day, the director of "Spotlight" brought the Oscar to the Globe's headquarters in Boston-nice touch.

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    1. It says a great deal about the quality of a news organization when they support an I-Team.

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    2. Russia is a weird place. I was there in 1990 (as a high school senior.) I came back predicting that the various republics (particularly Estonia) would leave the USSR. I thought it would be a bigger war to accomplish that. Seems only Ukraine was an issue. So far.

      I also said that we needed to be keeping a closer eye on their alliance with China. At the time, no one seemed to be paying any attention to them.

      My point (I promise I have one) is that because of the corruption, Russia never behaves like we think it will. Putin may be there longer than we think.

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  4. Makes the Pentagon Papers look like chickenfeed, eh?
    Lovely photo's, the last one made me think of how many times I'd been just ahead of one of those contrails in the sky, and happy I don't do that anymore.

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    1. It certainly does.
      I understand what you say about being in front of those contrails. There is a point at which travel becomes more than what you want to do frequently.

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  5. Mrs. Chatterbox and I were inspired by your beautiful coastal photographs and drove to Cannon Beach today, but it was cold and mostly overcast. Maybe we should move to Cambria.

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  6. We will sometimes get overcast and or fog. Today for example we've had a .2 inch of rain and while that is not a lot by your standards, it is appreciated as we continue to try to break the drought. Mostly though, blue sky and sunshine here. BTW our daughter and her friend are headed to Portland for a look-see. They've read and heard great things about the area, though we hope they don't decide they like it enough to move from Central California.

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  7. Wow. I didn't know you do that for a living. I'm impressed. I'm sure it's no walk in the park.

    These are stunning photos as always.

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  8. Lux,
    Thanks for the kind words. As for investigative reporting, no it was not easy though it was rewarding in knowing important information was given to the public.

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  9. The Pentagon Papers were anything but "chickenfeed." Maybe for those who experience them as history. Anyway, good piece, Tom. I keep expecting the rich and powerful to find a way to shut down the investigation, although I hope the great mass of journalists doing the work will keep the perpetrators from digging their hole deeper. Yet, the personalities of the Putin-like may lead them to even worse behavior.

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  10. It would be a fascinating time to be back at work as a journalist wouldn't it? Big data is changing everything.

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  11. I'm in love with John Oliver. My husband said I could go on a date with him, as long as I allowed him (my husband) to tag along. 😊

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    1. I'm sure that would be an entertaining and high energy event.

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