Finance Opinion

Opinion: U.S. mass media failed on Panama Papers

Photo courtesy of Christopher Dombres via Flickr
Written by Matt Stephens

The mainstream media are not saying too much about the Panama Papers, which should be no surprise to anyone. The mainstream media tend to sway away from relevant political news abroad. However, when you have various corporations, politicians, athletes and other big-name individuals hiding money, it’s a big deal.

The only real political hit thus far came yesterday, when the Prime Minister of Iceland Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson resigned. His resignation came following leaked documents accusing the Prime Minister of sketchy business practices overseas. NBC News reported, “(The documents) showed (Gunnlaugsson’s) wife owned an offshore firm with big claims on the country’s collapsed banks.”  

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been brought up among the Panama Papers saga, and for good reason. Some of his associates were accused in the documents of participating in a sketchy offshore network of investments. Sergei Roldugin, one of the associates who was accused, is the godfather of Putin’s eldest daughter.

One member of FIFA’s ethics committee was additionally cited in the report for being connected to an individual that the United States has already indicted on corruption charges.

World-renowned soccer player Lionel Messi was cited in the same report for accusations of covering up money. Messi allegedly stored the money for image rights in offshore companies to avoid taxation. Messi is expected to stand trial on tax fraud charges May 31.

So how much media coverage is out there on this issue beyond social media? Personally, I have not seen too much on this topic. It is very daunting to me that this scandal stretches so deep and we are hearing so little here in the United States.

Inevitably, we live in a society that is so used to money being hidden in offshore accounts that it is not big news. When you have as many individuals being accused as you do here, this should be a top story. Sure, some outlets have reported on the issue online. However, TV stations have failed to explain the situation to their viewers.

As a journalist, it saddens me to see such a hot button topic be so hush-hush.

Ask your friends and family, what is going on with the Panama Papers? Be prepared to wait for a blank stare.

About the author

Matt Stephens

Matt Stephens is the social media director and an opinion columist. Matt also works for WOUB-TV, where he is a reporter for local high school sports as well as Ohio Bobcats Golf and Softball. Matt is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio and is a strong advocate for Chipotle burritos.

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