The Panama Papers is arguably the biggest scoop of the decade, exposing 214,000 shell companies used by the world’s elite to avoid paying the tax owed to countries. Acts like this stop hospitals being build, schools receiving adequate funding and those less fortunate in society being looked after. As more of these crimes continue to be exposed in gradual releases, conservative estimates put the dollars taken from taxpayers pockets in the billions. But why did the whistleblower from Mossack Fonseca who started all this go to German publication Süddeutsche Zeitung rather than a more global partner? The actions of most media organisations over the last week should explain why the inside man likely hit a brick wall when attempting to contact mainstream, corporate owned news businesses.

As we reported last week, many news organisations were slow to pick up the story – local news networks appeared to have little interest in a topic that cost Iceland’s Prime Minister his job and sent ripples through the communities of the elite. CNN, Fox News, news.com.au. Stuff.co.nz and Channel 10 News chose to not even mention it the day after it’s release. But now things have become even more sinister as the story develops and many of these networks are still banishing coverage to the middle of the paper, bottom of the site or the end of the news bulletin. In the case of China, all mention of the Panama Papers has been banned from state run media.

This may have something to do with many organisations being excluded from the initial story, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists being chosen to work through the millions of documents, emails and files and farming out much of this work to investigative journalists and analysts around the world. However this is no excuse for an intentional blackout of something so important – regardless of which entity breaks a story, the others are usually very quick to pick it up as evidenced by Wikileaks or the Edward Snowden leaks.

Importantly, News Corp under Rupert Murdoch has many subsidiary companies, some based in Panama. There is no insinuation that Murdoch or News is doing anything illegal, but it seems they take issue with publishing something that could create a perception that they have been acting in an immoral way. BBC and CNN and likely many others also have links to Panama based businesses.

This is not unbiased journalism and that the corporate side of a media based business would have so much impact on the journalist side is horrifying. The end result of this is that rather than seeing what’s going on in the world (news) we’re being spoon fed what’s vetted. The Guardian in the UK chose not to report on the David Cameron link to tax avoidance and instead front paged Vladimir Putin, even though British influence in these tax havens in extraordinarily high. The New Zealand media were just as silent even as evidence of tax havens in the country come to light.

The media giants are those we turn to for news and they are doing everything in their power to ensure we don’t get enough information to get angry about one fact – the mega rich are not paying taxes and the poor and middle class are paying too much. It’s unfair and should be against the law but it’s not because the laws are designed to make sure that tax havens and tax avoidance are secretive and within the law. 

Without reform nothing will change and while we look to the mainstream media for our information we’re going to be blind to the crimes being committed against us as a society.