Is Wikileaks the Future of Journalism?

Foreign Policy ponders the question after the release of this video that shows the murder of civilians by an Apache attack helicopter.  The video is not safe for work or to be shown to kids.

Yet, we wouldn’t be seeing the guns at all if not for a sustained campaign by Wikileaks. At its best, the rise of Wikileaks represents the type of accountability journalism made famous in the 1970s by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward of Watergate fame, and practiced today by Jane Mayer of the New Yorker and Eric Lichtblau and James Risen of the New York Times — and Seymour Hersh in both eras.

Wikileaks, however, makes no bones about its desire to advance a political message, promising sources that their material will be used for "maximal political impact."  Assange says that he hopes Wikileaks’ work on this case will lead to "world-wide attention to the issue, and hopefully a renewed investigation into those events, and a change in government policy."

Assange writes initial analyses and stories from leaked material himself, and there’s often a Noam Chomsky-esque critique of America in his work. It’s clear he distrusts big corporations and governments. He has more reason to do so than most, having lived and worked in Kenya, where he has helped to expose hundreds of government-sponsored extrajudicial assassinations. Two of his colleagues were killed in March 2009, in an attack some have linked to the Kenyan police.

Wikileaks’ editors are definitely outspoken, but they can’t quite be accused of partisanship. They released the evidence of toxic waste dumping, which The Guardian had been barred from running, but also posted the so-called "climategate" emails from the University of East Anglia in November 2009, mere weeks before the Copenhagen talks. They’ve also leaked the confidential creditor list of collapsed Icelandic Bank Kaupthing, Australia’s secret blacklist of censored URLs, and more than 500,000 pager messages from New York City on the morning of September 11, 2001.

Despite these public-interest successes, Wikileaks’ disregard for gag orders and their unabashed advocacy makes full-throated praise for the organization rare. Yet no journalist I’ve spoken to will speak ill of Wikileaks in private: Every reporter understands that Wikileaks is the thin end of the wedge. If they can’t run a dangerous story, no one can.

While it may not be the future of journalism it is a fun part of the future.  The lack of accountability is one problem while at the same time you don’t have stories being killed because of a publishers opinion on how the news should be portrayed.  It also gives reporters an outlet to release their own killed stories.

2 thoughts on “Is Wikileaks the Future of Journalism?”

  1. I commend Wikileaks for taking the initiative to dig up censorship materials and cover-up stories by making them public. This is certainly what I hope the future hold for journalism – truth telling. It is definitely time to break the tired mold of corporate news censorship and deliver real news to the public. Real, scary, hard to handle truth telling news that will burst naivety bubbles and promote awareness for current issues.

    I would like you to check out an interview series of professional journalists discussing some of the other issues affecting and shaping journalism.

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