"Investigative reporting - who is the real victim?"

Investigative journalism is not a big money-maker. Large amounts of time and money must be spent giving journalists enough support to uncover difficult and often complex suspicions, which they must be able to prove to be true beyond both reasonable and unreasonable doubt..

The Asahi network is spending a huge amount of time—5 years in fact—in giving a voice to young men who have, allegedly, falsely been accused and convicted of rape.

The story follows that of a young girl, on her way back from school, kidnapped and taken to a park where she was gang-raped by her school peers. The accused boys (17 at the time) were immediately arrested, “confessed,” and convicted.

The investigative documentary follows the holes in the story that the police failed to report. For instance, the victim says she cannot remember it raining on the night of the rape but the reporter shows that there are records of a heavy downpour on the night, accusing the girl of lying. The reporter also interviews the boys who explain the ordeal of the interrogation by the police as the reason they made a “forced” confession, even though they later deny any involvement.

The reporter is obviously impassioned by this story, staunchly believing in the boys’ innocence. She goes to great lengths to show why the boys were not involved and in the process, accuse the girl of lying and crying “rape” to cover-up the fact that she was actually out on a date that night and didn’t want her parents to find out.

In terms of investigative journalism, the Asahi network have done it by the book, going to great lengths to stand-up for something they believe in. However, one can’t help but wonder about the dubious morality of a major network is accusing a rape victim of lying. Of course, if she is lying, then the accusations may well be deserved. But do they include an interview with her? No. Do they include interviews with her friends? No. The documentary is obviously biased and follows just one train of thought. There is a stark lack of balance and the argument therefore appears weak.

Investigative journalism is often used to help the under-dog and the network believes that in this case, it is the convicted boys. However, in reality, it is hard to say who the under-dog actually is – the boys or the girl. Asahi is stepping on dangerous ground and should be careful in dishing out such sensitive accusations.

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