Socialist Worker

Investigative journalism – or a stinking swamp?

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2290

Trevor Kavanagh, the Sun’s associate editor, wrote on Monday, “The Sun is not a ‘swamp’ that needs draining.”

He bemoaned the “misuse” of police resources in investigating journalists. He complained about dawn raids causing fear and humiliation for the families of News International employees.

Kavanagh didn’t oppose those same dawn raids when they were used to target asylum seekers or people accused of being rioters.

His other defence is that the police are trying to divert attention—and that the arrests represent an attack on freedom of the press.

He says the only crime of Sun journalists is “to act as journalists have acted on all newspapers through the ages, unearthing stories that shape our lives, often obstructed by those who prefer to operate behind closed doors”.

But this story is not about investigative journalism. It is about corruption.

There is a mutually beneficial relationship between cops and hacks. The police leak sensational stories on crime. They release their version of events. Journalists build up police sources—not to expose wrongdoing but to beat their competitors.

Hundreds of thousands of pounds changed hands—not to expose wrongdoing but to prop up a corporation.

Countless miscarriages of justice have happened with the press and the police working hand in hand.

News International has ruthlessly pursued the interests of the rich and the powerful. It represents the same establishment as the police officers. And it is as corrupt as they are.

The US satirical journalist Finley Peter Dunne once wrote that newspapers “comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable”. The best journalism does that. News International doesn’t.


If you enjoy Socialist Worker, please consider giving to our annual appeal to make sure we can maintain and develop our online and print versions of Socialist Worker. Go here for details and to donate.

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.