Is journalism a public service?

By Normita Fenn

Normita Fenn

The emergence of the internet has truly changed our lives. We are able to connect via email, Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media.

One other service the internet has given the public is the revelations of wrongdoings, frauds and scams that were ordinarily not known, thanks to the work of journalists. I watched a CNBC documentary, American Greed, a story about the former CEO of Tyco Int’l. Dennis Kozlowski. The work of many journalists, analysts and experts that uncover his extravagant lifestyle with his expensive tastes came into play.

This started as a case of non-payment of taxes (for his purchase of multi-million dollar art pieces in New York and shipping them somewhere else) that turned into larceny; media expose on his wife’s million dollar plus b-day party (caught on video), houses, luxury yachts that turned out to be financed by Tyco. A journalist from Wall Street Journal, Mark Maremont, was one of anchors of the show and who was one of the collaborative journalists who followed the case.

The downfall of Mr. Kozlowski and his co-defendant Mark Swartz, CFO, is one of the most prominent white collar crimes in our time because of the abuse of authority, abuse of the employees and stakeholders. He was found guilty of 22 of 23 counts of grand larceny and conspiracy, falsifying business records and violating general business law. He was sentenced to a maximum of 25 years in 2005.

The revelations were mind-boggling when we think about what the journalists found, one of them saying that the sentence was too harsh and did not fit the crime considering the allegations against other high profile defendants of white collar crimes at that time. But are journalists’ not committed to public service and believe that what they are doing is for the good of the public?

Our society is better off because of the work that journalists do for us, and the Kozlowski case is one of them. In April 2012 his plea for parole was denied, the panel “ruling that releasing him early would tend to minimize his crimes and affect public safety.”


About normitafenn

Normita Fenn studied journalism at University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She earned her MBA in Marketing from Golden Gate University-San Francisco. She resides in San Ramon, California. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter: @NormitaFenn
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3 Responses to Is journalism a public service?

  1. normitafenn says:

    This case is merely an example of what true journalists are doing and why they pursue this noble profession – to serve the public with truth and integriy.

  2. Taj Nagar says:

    Smart, but interesting, as are many of your blogs.

    I read through the past entries over the past week, and I must
    say I think I’m infatuated.

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