Alternative Reporting Channels

You also may have the option of reporting corruption to the following alternatives:

1. Reporting to a civil society organisation

2. Reporting to journalists and media outlets

3. Reporting to politicians or political entities


Reporting to a Civil Society Organisation

Civil Society Organisations are formed by groups of individuals that represent an interest, purpose or value. The type of work done can range from research, policy recommendation, legal advice, legal actions, advocacy and political reform. Some CSOs do corruption-related work and have specialized teams dedicated to challenge it. 

(a) How Could They Help?

Reporting corruption to a CSO can allow you to get support from a group of specialists without having to pay fees. Due to their work, CSOs usually have networks and access to media outlets that help them raise awareness about  the issues they work on. 

  • If you need help to start a legal action, there are specialized CSOs that can help you. These may be anti-corruption organisations or a CSO specialised in a particular sector, such as environmental protection, education, health care, land rights and others.
  • They could also help you raise awareness regarding your case and give you recommendations on what is the best strategy to report it.

Reporting to a CSO is also relatively easy and safe since there are usually  reporting channels designed specifically for  these cases. 

(b) Is it Right for Me to Report to a CSO?

Expertise. Some CSOs are specialised in supporting whistleblowers, advocating for change and moving taking legal cases.Resources. CSOs are often overburdened with many cases and have insufficient resources.
Cost. If CSOs take your issue or case forward, it is free of charge as they are not-for-profit organisations.Dangers to the CSO. A dangerous case may also pose a risk to the CSO.
Media. CSOs often have good access to media and are experienced in handling the media. That can be helpful when the reporting person/victims are vulnerable.GONGOs. In some countries there are government oragnised NGOs that may not be independent. It is not always obvious who they are or what are their motives.
Networks. CSOs often have good connections to other CSOs who can also help.
Movements. CSOs can sometimes mobilise people and start campaigns if that helps the case or raises awareness.

Reporting to Journalists and Media Outlets

Journalists and media outlets follow and publish the stories on corruption networks. Due to their training and specialisation, journalists have the necessary tools to gather testimonies, access public information, and connect a corruption case with other stories. In well-functioning democracies, journalists enjoy strong source protection, which means that save for very exceptional cases they cannot be obligated even by authorities to disclose their sources of information. 

Media outlets help spread the stories that journalists research. As journalists and editors are independent in their decision whether they want to investigate and report on a story, there is no guarantee that what you share with them will be published. 

(a) How Could They Help?

If you would like to know more about the corruption you detected or to put pressure into a public body to follow or investigate your case, reporting to a journalist or media outlet may be appropriate.

  • Reporting corruption to a media outlet or journalist can give you access to other sides of the story you have started to follow. 
  • They can interview a number of people to have more information regarding your case. 
  • Journalists also know how to access public information regarding companies and public institutions that can help you collect evidence. 
  • Some journalists even have data analysis training that allows them to make inferences about big data sets.
  • Journalists enjoy more protection when publishing a story than an average individual does. They are also obliged to protect their sources and thereby you are going to face less risk by bringing your case to the media than by publishing it yourself.

(b) Where to Find Them?

You know the media of your country and which outlets publish good investigative articles. If you have evidence of a previously unpublished grand corruption case it may also make sense to get in touch with one of the major investigative journalism networks. Examples include:

Example: Walmart Mexico Bribery Case

An investigation made by The New York Times, an American newspaper, uncovered a network of corruption of Walmart’s Mexican subsidiaries which involved high level employees who used bribes to secure permits to build new stores. According to the investigation, the company payments were made for more than $24 million, in which Walmart’s executives not only were aware of the situation but they had established a corruption network in the country. It was until the publication of the article of the NYT that the allegations and Walmart’s investigation were publicly disclosed and legal procedures took place.

Social media can also be a good ally. This was discussed in How Can I Report Corruption?

(c) Is it Right for Me to Report to a Journalist or Media Outlet?

Awareness. They can focus the public's attention on a case or corrupt activity. They can raise awareness and give visibility of a case and find other victims or whistleblowers who want to speak up.The news cycle. Because of the news cycle, the media often doesn't have a long attention span and after a short time moves onto a new story.
Protection. They and their sources are often well protected by law and the power of publicity.Powerful interests. Some media are not independent and are influenced by big political/economic interests.
Pressure for change. They can exert pressure on public bodies and request remedies to address the wrongdoing.Bad media practices. The media sometimes disregard the interests of the whistleblowers/victims just for the sake of getting more readers/viewers.

Reporting to Politicians or Political Entities

Individual politicians often have communication channels to listen to what locals in their constituencies have to say. 

  • Since corruption heavily weighs on the level of trust that citizens have on them, many of them are eager to showcase their agenda against corruption through policies and programs that reduce the chances of corruption within their districts. 
  • However, if an individual politician is involved in corruption, it will be unhelpful and could be dangerous to report corruption to them.

There may also be investigative/inquiry committees in the legislature that are dedicated to investigating corruption and making anti-corruption policies.

(a) How Could They Help?

Politicians have access to reporting bodies inside congress and other public bodies. They can ask for attention to be given to your case within congress or conduct a specialized research of your case within their teams. 

  • They can also help you with advocating your case to pass the necessary reforms in order to bridge the gap that allows corruption to happen. 
  • They may also be able to help raise awareness and put pressure on prosecutors, regulators or anti-corruption agencies to take action.

Unfortunately, many politicians have ties to corruption networks which is why not a risk free channel to report a corruption case. 

(b) Is it Right for Me to Report to a Politician or Political Entity?

Cost. The process should not cost you anything. In most countries, politicians especially those in the parliament or congress have the mandate to investigate and scrutinize the final audit report after the budget has been executed.Corruption within these institutions. Where corruption has reached highest levels, politicians can be involved and may want to protect their counterparts.
Attention. Since politicians and the people involved in political entities are well-known and some of them are opinion leaders, they can help you to make a statement in the media or before public entities to report corruption. Sanctions. Since politicians have no legal powers, it is difficult for them to bring a case to a criminal, civil or administrative institution to investigate the case.
Political misuse of your case. Since politicians have their own agendas, they may use the issue to attack the government or a company for political gain.
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