Staff editorial: The Panama Papers show journalism at its best
This past weekend, the largest data leak ever breached the Internet, linking prominent world leaders to unethical abuses of offshore bank accounts. It dives into how the major players of our globalized world are linked to bribery and unlawful transactions.
Essentially, the files show just how corrupt some rich figureheads have become.
Documents either directly link or link via associates people such as soccer superstar Lionel Messi, President Xi Jinping of China, the president of Argentina, the kings of Morocco and Saudi Arabia and, most notably, President Vladimir Putin of Russia. The leaks revealed money hidden in tax havens on islands in the Caribbean, Oceania and off the coast of Africa.
The 11.5 million documents leaked are being called the “Panama Papers,” and the willingness of the unknown whistle blower to leak the documents to a German newspaper is a triumph of public information that must be imitated if the relationship between journalists and society is to remain meaningful.
And, fairly, the 400 journalists from 80 countries who contributed should be lauded for their commitment to information freedom and service to societies all over the world.
Sadly, the Panama Papers confirm a notion that people already believe: world leaders are corrupt.
It’s not all of them, but if just a few are abusing the system, the lack of personal accountability looks bad from a systemic point of view. The leaders of any organization — government, business, sports or even university campuses — need to be more transparent about their finances so the public knows whom to trust.
If our leaders are hiding their bank accounts, what else are they hiding? Can we trust them at all?
One role of the media is to hold powerful people accountable, and these leaks are an example of how investigative journalism can make a difference on a global scale.
— The Cougar Editorial Board