Panama Papers Illustrate Power of Journalists

For over a year, journalists across the globe have combed through a set of 11.5 million documents dubbed the “Panama Papers” for information about politicians, celebrities and other powerful public figures who have hidden huge amounts of money in offshore accounts. Condemning information finally came to the surface in a report on Sunday, and for some of the people accused, it resulted in real consequences. Icelandic prime minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson, for one, resigned on Tuesday when it was revealed that he’d secretly moved millions of dollars of investments in Iceland’s banks to an offshore company. But the information published on Sunday is apparently just the beginning.

Offshore banking isn’t illegal, but the cases of it that have been brought to light by these papers are certainly raising important ethical questions. As awful as it is to see such corrupt behavior from people in such influential positions, the fact that it’s being reported—and is resulting in action in cases like Iceland—is pretty incredible. Almost 400 journalists from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists have taken an enormous amount of time to uncover the information in these documents, which together constitute the biggest leak in history, surpassing the WikiLeaks incident in 2010.

Repercussions of the Panama Papers largely remain to be seen, but my initial reaction to this whole ordeal is an odd sort of pride in the power journalism can have in creating change, even if that change is brought on by negative circumstances. Cynical though this may sound, it isn’t too surprising to see certain people in positions of power using their influence and wealth in selfish and harmful ways. And while the documents haven’t yet revealed any information regarding the U.S., this is an important moment to become aware of the worldwide issue of corrupt politics.

—Jenna Ramsey, News Editor