We need accountability journalism now more than ever

We often neglect reading a journalist’s name on an article, we may even neglect to remain informed and not read the article at all. Throughout daily life, the name Ronan Farrow means nothing. In my adventures as a journalist, on the other hand, that name means a lot. But why should you care who he is and why do we need more journalists like him?

If life were a Western, preferably excluding Clint Eastwood, Farrow would be the sheriff-gone-rogue, while the likes of Harvey Weinstein and Donald Trump would be the evil bank-robbing pussy grabbers.

Farrow, with a brief yet illustrious history in politics where he worked with Obama and Hillary Clinton, is on a manhunt, yes. His coming from a prominent yet questionable background is sketchy, yes. That all is irrelevant when it comes to his efforts as a remarkable journalist who has brought his admirable work to various fronts.

If you’ve read the New Yorker, specifically on Feb. 16 and a few months ago, you’ll know what I mean. You might also be wondering about Farrow’s peculiar background, but why does that matter, when he’s one of a few reporters storming the front of society’s dark-side? Farrow is the journalist going after those who abuse their power. His reporting has added to the rightful condemnation of Weinstein and, starting last week, he has his eyes set on another philandering target: President Donald Trump.

Why does all of this matter? And still, who is this Ronan Farrow? Farrow is the son of actress Mia Farrow and filmmaker Woody Allen, with some speculation by tabloid channels like E! Online that Ronan might actually be Frank Sinatra’s son. Farrow, born Satchel O’Sullivan, is detached from his father which may explain his vigilante reporting behavior.

There is no hard evidence that Frank Sinatra is the biological father of Ronan Farrow. And the discussion around this is irrelevant, as it only aims to detract from the journalistic integrity of Farrow’s work. If we all give in to these shenanigans then all of the revelations, reported by Farrow, are buried under our want for entertainment rather than our need for information. Information that will change our societies for the better, information that will eliminate those who aren’t fit to sit on powerful positions. Is that too much to ask for?

In his article titled Donald Trump, A Playboy Model, And A System For Concealing Infidelity, Farrow outlines the details behind the alleged affairs between Trump and former playmate Karen McDougal. The meticulously sourced article details how the American Media Inc., which owns The National Enquirer, allegedly works with powerful men to conceal their filth is Farrow’s strongest revelation yet. The article also mentions the likes of Tiger Woods and Arnold Schwarzenegger being allegedly involved in what Farrow reported is called a “catch and kill,” method.

“Catch and kill” is a method used by media empires to buy the rights to stories that may hurt individuals such as celebrities and politicians and then never release them. In the case Farrow reported, AMI’s CEO David Pecker bought the rights to the McDougal affair story and proceeded to bury it. The story about the McDougal affair is particularly damaging to Trump: it alleges the affair took place after his marriage to his wife, Melania, and in the early years of his youngest son Barron Trump’s life.

The men in power, on Farrow’s radar, are put to the test with his investigative reporting. Men whose behaviour should alert every journalist who has an ounce of integrity. Men, like Trump and Weinstein, who use their power to jump from one woman to the other as they like. Men like Woody Allen, who married his adopted daughter, to which Farrow has commented “he’s my father and my brother-in-law,” adding that that is a “moral transgression.”

The moral transgression that has caught Farrow’s eyes now is Trump’s undermining of the American presidency. A man, who alleges to be a good Christian, sits on the throne of America while spewing a constant barrage of problems at his nation’s well being. Like Farrow, to stand up against the likes of Trump and Weinstein, journalists must protect the people. Giving voice to those who are silenced by the powers of intertwining institutions, is a journalist’s professional and moral obligation. These times may be even harder than the Vietnam War era and infringements on the First Amendment are the least of our worries. This is an entire system of politics, finances and culture that are leading to the decay of democracy.

On the #MeToo movement and on fighting male toxicity, Farrow has repeatedly outdone himself in bringing forth valuable information and reporting on perilous situations. To the political world, going after the president of the United States, Farrow is pushing the boundaries of modern day journalism whilst reminding us of the responsibility a journalist has in holding those in power accountable to their unforgivable mistakes.

We are all aware of the insurgency of “Fake News” and the terrifying repercussions it poses for our democratic societies. That we, if not for the efforts of our power-checking institutions, will no longer enjoy our liberties. That we, by being idle and complicit, may lose centuries worth of progression. I wish we had more Farrows. I wish that we were more vigilant in protecting our democracy.

To diminish a journalist’s work by highlighting their absurd life or by highlighting the oddities of their characteristics, as done by tabloid-running agencies and sensationalist journalism, is an egregious and abysmal wrong. To focus with tunnel vision eyes on Ronan Farrow’s personal life is to sully his outstanding reporting. In doing so, we will lose the battle for a society that is sustainable and we will forfeit our cumulative efforts to rid us from the likes of Weinstein and Trump.

Those in power must be held accountable. Those stories must come out. Those who care more about Farrow’s parentage don’t understand. It’s up to those who are willing to go through the system and play it by the book all in order to save our progressive ideals and ultimately our societies.

This is a call to arms for every journalist. Pick up your notepads and pens, your voice recorders and cameras, your caffeine pills and your pocket-sized Constitution. There are those who need to be reminded of the virtue of accountability. Those like Weinstein and Trump.

Photo Credit: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images