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CFN editorial: the importance of the Paradise Papers beyond it’s societal accountability

By now the news of the Paradise Papers has begun to sink in. The 13.5 million documents that released confounding if not shocking information about offshore tax havens that some 3,000 Canadians are involved with, is just another bombshell in a sea of fraudulent craters kicked off by the Panama Papers back in 2015.

The Paradise Papers are bringing attention to the sketchy behaviour of Canada’s elite and rightly so. The fallout of the documents remains to be seen and it’ll be some time before we seen any tangible action from our government but it’s important to put the pressure on our leaders and demand answers to such shady activity.

But it’s also important to stop and appreciate the amount of hard work, talent and journalistic integrity that went into bringing such abrasive information to light. I truly believe that the act of releasing the Paradise Papers and the continuous effort to report on what’s contained within, is more important than the actual information. It’s these types of scandals and landmark events that prove the worth of journalists all over the world, and it’s in this often selfless slog that we should celebrate the fact that the work is being done.

Of course the obvious societal accountability is paramount in a situation like this, but what’s so important from a journalistic standpoint with the Paradise Papers, is that it sets further precedent for the type of work the media industry can point to. The fact is, journalists across the entire globe strive to impart meaningful information to their audiences everyday, and the sad part is that so rarely do we see these stories given their weight in salt in regards to our attention. Important stories are faced with blunt apathy, threat of death or blatant disregard for the truth in far too many circumstances.

In cases like the Paradise Papers, the journalism community is able to break through the ugliness that society so often decides to cover us with, and tangibly show the work that fills our days and nights. Being able to see beyond the headlines and reconcile the information with the dedication connected to each sentence is crucial to increasing the value good journalism can have on individual communities and entire nations in the cases of these two sets of papers.

These high profile media situations created by the industry itself, also serves to slow down in our consumption of news and view things from all sides. In our prevailing social media driven culture today, headlines are read and stories are shared but once the initial dose of information is accepted by the reader, new events fill our feeds and the seemingly important information is filtered out. This even happened with the Panama Papers and I’m almost convinced it’s going to happen with it’s paradise equivalent. Next week a new cache of information is going to enter our collective consciousness for a short time before we move onto something else we deem just as important.

The Paradise Papers are a virtuoso work of journalism that expose fraudulent activity across the globe. Whether or not we’re surprised by those facts coming to light, the communities we belong to should not pass up the opportunities to revel in such rich contextual situations that impact us all on some level. The job of a journalist is to reveal and to teach and if we take nothing from this latest massive data dump, we’re doing ourselves a disservice and blotting out the tremendous effort it took to bring this sensitive information to light.