There are two main ways in which investigative journalism makes the world a better place.
Firstly, investigative journalism exposes abuses of power. Terrible things that would otherwise have been swept under the carpet are exposed, thanks to investigative journalism. We have, for instance, come across investigative journalism reports about the working conditions in the oriental sweat-shops. Those are the sweatshops where most of the products on sale in the western world are manufactured. I personally came across such a report this morning. I had gone online to check my Target Visa gift card balance. Then I detoured to a news site, where I came across a bold investigative journalism report on the working conditions in Chinese sweatshops…
Thanks to such reports, the people who buy the products made in those sweatshops get to understand the working conditions of the people who manufacture the apparel and gadgets they love so much. The owners of the sweatshops (who tend to be powerful individuals) are then forced to implement better working conditions for their workers. In turn, the workers in the sweatshops, who tend to be powerless individuals, get to enjoy better working conditions and better pay — all thanks to investigative journalism.
Sometimes, investigative journalists have been known to venture as far as into prisons and into war-zones where they proceed to expose the terrible abuses of power that take place in such settings. Following such reports, the soldiers in the war zones, prison officers (and other purveyors of power) are forced to scale back on their abuses of power – leading to relatively better conditions for the people living under their power.
Secondly, the fact that investigative journalism exists help keep those who have power in check. They know that if they abuse their power, the abuses are likely to be documented by investigative journalists. And that could lead to negative publicity, which most organizations and governments fear.
There is no doubt, then, that the world would be a worse place, were it not for investigative journalism.