Monday, December 6, 2010

WikiLeaks, part II

Doug wrote an earlier post about Wikileaks, so I'm here for some recent updates that happened in the last several days, and some important implications the leak of these documents on journalism today. The Columbia Journalism Review has a great rundown of some news outlets' coverage of the documents.

Here's the break down of what has happened since the release of more than 250,000 confidential U.S. State Department documents last week:
  • It's been has been hit with denial-of-service notices, and kicked off the servers in the U.S. and France
  • On Friday, U.S.-based Paypal cut off Wikileak's account, a major source of income
  • Amazon has cut Wikileaks off its server service, it has now hired a Switzerland-based company to host its site
  • As a result of this censorship, WL has been using its Twitter account to request followers to start "mirror sites"
  • WL's founder Julian Assange is now wanted by the Swedish government on allegations of sex crimes, including rape
NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen had an interesting quote in response to the controversy, stating “The watchdog press died, and what we have is WikiLeaks instead.”

Wikileak's radical transparency could be considered watchdog journalism, but I think there's a line it has crossed between the public's interest and breaching national security.

While the definition of whether WL's move is considered espionage or watchdog journalism is still up in the air, I think an interesting question could be asked of the journalists who received the documents directly from WL. Is it ethical to use an organization like this as a source? (The only U.S. news outlet that had advance access to the documents was the New York Times, courtesy of the Guardian. CNN and WSJ declined the documents because they didn't want to sign the confidentiality agreements.)

Now that the documents are out, why have the only stories I've read related to them have been about the organization and its founder Assange? Is it too early to expect journalists to begin writing pieces about the contents of the documents or to begin investigating any discrepancies in the documents?

I'm not 100% sure how I feel about WL, but I do know that this controversy has shown me that 1) Twitter has the potential to one day become a major source of communication and 2) the investigative role of journalists has dramatically declined.

No comments:

Post a Comment