WikiLeak’s rise to prominence as the world’s first stateless media organization has carried it into the center of a massive storm of controversy. On one hand WikiLeaks and Julian Assange have widespread global support and have won numerous journalism awards. On the other hand, the US government portrayed them as a criminal entity, as a sort of spy organization and certainly not a member of the press protected by the First Amendment. Some top US officials called Assange a high-tech terrorist and should be prosecuted under the Espionage Act of 1917.
With inflamed rhetoric, many in the mainstream media have negatively framed the narrative of this new journalistic force and tried to distance themselves from it. By doing so, they attempted to deflect perception of WikiLeaks from the appearance of legitimacy associated with the word ‘journalism’. One tactic was sensational personal attacks, with classic tabloid character assassination of Assange to distract the public from asking questions about the real actions of WikiLeaks. The other was sophisticated intellectual persuasion, where the corporate media criticized the organization, particularly questioning its journalistic status.
Among others, Bill Keller of the New York Times strongly disapproved of calling Assange a journalist, though he finally admitted it while maintaining his distance. The New York Times tried to treat WikiLeaks as a source and not a partner. The decision to exclude WikiLeaks representatives from the UNESCO international conference, discussing the future of media after WikiLeaks is a prime example of the establishment’s attempt to discount WikiLeaks.
In February, Julian Assange went to the British Supreme Court for the final appeal of his extradition to Sweden. Allegations of sexual misconduct have been sensationally reported. Behind the Swedish hype, the US Attorney General has conducted an unprecedented criminal investigation against WikiLeaks. The looming question at hand is whether Assange will be extradited to Sweden and then immediately to the US to be tried for espionage. He has been under house arrest for more than a year without any charges. Along with all the sensation and international legal procedural irregularities, the general public has been distracted from the real issues. Many remain passive spectators, as if waiting to see the sequel of a daytime soap opera.
All this has preempted the public from asking real questions about WikiLeaks’s journalistic status, with the established media controlling most of the discourse. Yet, the question of whether WikiLeaks is a journalistic enterprise is extremely important for the future of journalism and for freedom of speech worldwide. It is true that in many ways WikiLeaks appears radically different than the established media. But what is it that really sets them apart from other news organizations?
In general, the focus has been directed toward Assange as an individual. Some have criticized the polarizing effect of Assange’s personality and methods. Controversy emerged around the release of Collateral Murder video, with the intentional slant in its sensational title. One might recall Assange’s interview on Comedy Central’s Colbert Report back in April 12, 2010 where Colbert’s right wing character challenged Assange with a sarcastic tone on the framing of the Collateral Murder video: “You have given it a title called Collateral Murder. That’s not leaking, that’s a pure editorial”. Assange responded, saying “The promise that we make to our sources is that …. we will attempt to get the maximum political impact for the materials they give to us.” Colbert continued: “That way you have manipulated the audience into the emotional state you want before something goes on the air. That is an emotional manipulation ….” with an added tongue-in-cheek “That’s journalism I can get behind.” This sentiment delivered by Colbert’s satire was taken as real by some and for them, WikiLeaks’ action seemed to be intentional manipulation. But is this really so? There are obvious differences between WikiLeaks approach and that of traditional journalism. When these differences are simply judged and framed from the prevalent view, what is essential about WikiLeaks’s approach is not revealed. This requires a new framework for defining journalism.
The Myth of the Creed of Objectivity
What is really the basis behind the accusation that Wikileaks is not a member of the press? Their apparent agenda and modus operandi is called into question as if they are violating some basic rule. First we must look at common assumptions in this profession. The notion of objectivity is something employed by conventional journalism. It can be traced back to the epistemology of physical science, which was extended into the field of journalism and psychology in the form of social science. The creed of objectivity supposedly promises unbiased reporting, and journalists are expected to be neutral and objective. In fact, this creed appears to have become a doctrine. Those who step away from it are met with consequences. A recent example is how web designer Caitlin Curran was fired from her job with Public Radio International’s The Takeaway on WNYC for participating in an Occupy Wall Street demonstration.
Contrary to the convention of claiming journalistic objectivity, Assange admits and discloses WikiLeaks agenda. He has said, “We are an activist organization. The method is transparency. The goal is justice” (April 18, 2010). WikiLeaks stands for a passionate value and one can see their principles in the actions of the organization. For instance, Assange described how by naming the gunship video Collateral Murder, WikiLeaks wanted “to knock out this ‘collateral damage’ euphemism, so when anyone uses it they will think ‘collateral murder.’” (as cited in Khatchadourian, 2010). This explicitly challenging attitude is contrary to the neutral position claimed by ‘professional’ journalism’s creed of objectivity. Indeed, passion and conviction are what fuels the engine of WikiLeaks.
If Assange’s actions were to be examined under the generally accepted definition of journalism, his seeming audacious principle and ethical framework might be called into question as interference of his subjectivity in the process of framing and reporting the news. In this view, one could easily conclude that Assange is not a journalist as he seems to violate this supposed golden rule of objectivity in journalism. Yet, is this really true?
In his weekly column in Truthdig -The Creed of Objectivity Killed the News Chris Hedges (2010) brought up the potential hazard of the stance of objectivity:
This creed transforms reporters into neutral observers or voyeurs. It banishes empathy, passion and a quest for justice. Reporters are permitted to watch but not to feel or to speak in their own voices. They function as “professionals” and see themselves as dispassionate and disinterested social scientists.
Before journalists become professionals, they are first citizens within society. The creed of objectivity indoctrinates those who seek for career with a status of a profession. One is taught to distrust what dwells in the realm of subjectivity such as emotions and intuition. They are trained to see passion in their work as unprofessional; that allowing personal conviction to enter the process would cloud their ‘lens of objectivity’. Individual success in the consolidated corporate media world depends on the ability to trade ones own critical thinking with one of outer authority in exchange for access to power. British investigative journalist Robert Fisk spoke of how the media has become a closed circle with only appointed journalists invited by the White House press conferences to ask questions that are often pre-approved by officials. Many journalists kneel before the profession’s creed of objectivity as a kind of religious guide. This concocted frame preempts real questioning or challenging the agenda of people in power whose actions they are reporting on.
So the question is more nuanced: At the expense of passion, can the creed of objectivity grant this promise of unbiased reporting? Or does it simply set up unspoken and unconscious obeisance to a deeply entrenched system of power?
Just claiming objectivity does not magically eliminate subjectivity. Sociologist Gaye Tuchman has termed objectivity a ‘strategic ritual’ that journalists use to turn facts into truth (as cited in David S. Allen, 2005, p. 58). In fact though, reporter objectivity can never be attained, according to communications consultant James Moore. He dismantled the creed of objectivity thus:
The craft of reporting has surrendered most of its sense of balance and fairness. Objectivity has never existed. Stories have always been framed for purpose and over-dramatized because reporters want to lead a newscast or be above the fold on the front page …. Reporters cannot be objective because they are a product of their experiences. They cannot ignore their upbringing, socioeconomic status, circle of friends, personal self-interests, and the viability of the employers they serve.
Reporting through this filter conjures hidden agendas into empirical facts in public perception, often bypassing critical examination. Ted Diadium in the article Should Journalists Never Be Activists? pointed out the possible hidden motivation behind the trend of separation of the news report and oped; that it was made to remove appearance of “biases from reporting on political issues, drawing a solid line between news reports and opinion columns and protecting the paper’s credibility through strict ethical barriers”. This practice helps to create a perception that reported news is grounded, objective and legitimate.
Yet, the mainstream media quite often shuns a critical issue if it appears to question corporate and government agendas. Outlets like CNN or the NYT strive for control of either the content or the framing of an issue. Constitutional attorney and author Glenn Greenwald shed light on one media blackout of investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill. Greenwald described how Scahill’s revelation about a CIA’s secret black site in Somalia was largely ignored by the establishment media and a few status quo journalists acting as a mouthpiece for the CIA attempted to discredit Scahill’s story. Investigative journalist, John Pilger elegantly summed up the corporate journalist’s code of conduct; “Do your job as it should be done and you are traitors; do your job as we say you should and you are journalists.”
There is no such thing as true objectivity. The creed of objectivity is often simply a pretense to cloak private agendas and construct simplistic emotional soundbites that obscure some aspect of what is really happening. Whether they know it or not, most journalists have become stenographers of power to defend a pre-manufactured perception or hidden agenda.
What is behind this false creed of objectivity? Its influence is invisible and subtle, yet for those who are willing to look deeper, it reveals a powerful force to govern and control public perception. This creed has become an unspoken law to define and confine journalists and what they might say. Media that serves for the authority in Washington is disguised as a professional class and perceived as a moral institution. In the article The Dangerous Cult of the Guardian Jonathan Cook shed light to this blind faith in the established media where readers accept content at face value.
Mainstream media holds itself out as a moral authority, providing a lens through which to see and validate outer events and perspectives. Individuals that follow this governance are discouraged from engaging in critical thinking. While conventional media holds firmly to this doctrine of objectivity as a professional standard, what is fueling the action of Wikileaks lies in something considered taboo by conventional journalism. Could it be that they are not violating the rules, but simply working under a different creed?
The Creed of Transparency
When people talk about unbiased reporting, they fail to recognize that the framework in which reporting is done is itself not neutral. The truth of the matter is that in the established paradigm, the vast majority of people are not granted an equal voice. Here it is natural for perspectives to be dominated by those with power. Corporations increasingly control the airwaves and significantly influence what is offered as news. In this situation, how can fair reporting be achieved?
If the press were to really to work for people instead of moneyed interests, then in a sense they must strive for justice by bringing voices and perspectives that were pushed into the margins. John Pilger once asked Assange about his passion. He responded with WikiLeaks’ motto: “Our goal is justice. Our method is transparency.” He emphasized the importance of not mixing up the two.
On their website’s about page, WikiLeaks spelled out the philosophy behind the aim and method: “Publishing improves transparency, and this transparency creates a better society for all people. Better scrutiny leads to reduced corruption and stronger democracies in all society’s institutions, including government, corporations and other organizations”.
How does this creed of transparency differ from the creed of objectivity? In the current climate of secrecy, transparency is largely talked about in the context of revealing concealed information. Yet, transparency in general just implies openness and communication. It is an act of honest sharing. Transparency in this sense has two meanings. One is disclosure and sharing when transparency is brought forth voluntarily. Another is exposure of secrets when transparency is demanded from outside of an inner circle. This forced transparency is what WikiLeaks does in holding powerful organizations accountable.
Voluntary transparency is what we used to have when things were more localized, before industrialization and corporate globalization. People used to be able to trust products in the stores in their neighborhood, as they knew the owner and farmers and they could talk and interact with them. Nowadays services and products have increasingly become abstracted, with corporations taking up many critical aspects of our life and community. We no longer know the owners and producers.
When people are distanced from each other and disconnected, it is harder for them to see the effect of their own actions. Real people have become faceless consumers where human relationship is no longer required. Commercial interests and profit motives have come to permeate all of society. With the rise of the advertisement industry, the veil of abstraction has caused people to become and more susceptible to false representation, divorced from genuine relationship.
We are surrounded by cosmetic, artificial images. From outside, products can look beautiful, news stories register as credible. Glorious pictures and beautiful or friendly models accompany the new antidepressant pill and blind ones eyes to the fine print of the side effects. Blood of innocent Iraqis are covered by patriotic images of American flags. Monsanto, a large bio-tech corporation that produces over 90% of genetically modified foods (GMO) portrays a positive image of an agricultural company helping farmers grow food. Yet, in reality it is the opposite, destroying the life force and killing farmers around the world, all the while producing poison for people and the Earth. The company actively hides decades of agricultural poison and extreme monopolizing behavior and suppression of clinical data showing the harm of their products on living beings. Another example is the media’s portrayal of war as rosy and successful when in fact the war in Afghanistan is a disaster.
Sophisticated ads veil profit motives and transform the real nature of products into elevated manufactured images. Many don’t even see the depth of dishonesty permeating our lives. Images packaged with lies and deception, often disguised as the opposite and break down what should be direct, genuine communication.
When human relationship is mediated by false images, the foundation of society itself is artificial and relationships becomes false. Honesty is a essential aspect of human relationship and its degradation in society is a sign of devolution of civilization, where people move away from the sense of brotherhood and shared responsibility and inevitably toward power over others and despotism.
With this decay of honesty, forced transparency has become more and more necessary. In the 60′s, consumer advocacy groups fought for ingredient labeling. That was a call for transparency, a form of check and balance on abuse of power by profit-driven corporations. It was also an attempt to demand honesty when genuine human relationship is no longer possible.
Before corporate consolidation and control, the press was more effective in fostering honesty and basic human communication. They were not just reporting an event that happened in the community, but also had more true investigative journalism. By utilizing the Freedom of Information Act, newspapers and magazines more often exposed the corrupt actions and secrecy of those in power. This way they demanded honesty from institutions and held them more accountable.
Nowadays, journalism has fallen into the role of advertisement and distraction. When ads become an essential avenue for financing newspapers, reporters of course tend to turn away from news that would upset their sponsors. The moral spine of the press has been bent toward commercial interests, which are also taking over government. The creed of objectivity is utilized as a tool to lend a veneer of legitimacy and conceal the true control over perception by those in power. Now this creed itself is being questioned and the public has begun to look for or create a press that acts in the interest of the people.
Some have recognized transparency and disclosure as a vital part of journalism. San Francisco Examiner columnist, Jeff Jarvis paraphrased David Weinberger:
“Transparency is the new objectivity”. Transparency about one’s investments and personal affiliations should be standard in presenting content to one’s readers, and is what readers should expect. But it not……really “objective”, at least in the way the term is used by many journalists today.
From this view, there has also been criticism surrounding the lack of transparency in WikiLeaks’ own operation. Aside from prominent spokesmen such as Assange and Kristinn Hrafnsson, the identities of most who work for the organization have been kept secret. In the 2011 Melbourne panel, WikiLeaks: Its Impact on Journalism and Government, Hrafnsson addressed this need for anonymity, saying that identities are protected due to the political climate where incitement for assassination is repeated in US political circles. He noted that because of this, for now this approach is justified.
On the other hand, WikiLeaks is eminently transparent in disclosing the motives behind their work. Assange said at the Sydney Peace Prize award ceremony: “We’re objective but not neutral. We’re on the side of justice – objectivity is not the same as neutrality.” This commitment to justice was manifested in the very operation of WikiLeaks. He described how WikiLeaks is most interested in particular information among various types; that concealed information has great potential for just reform because those who hide that information spend a lot of energy and resources in concealment. He pointed out this signal of suppression is a sign of opportunity, showing that “there something worth looking at to see if it should be exposed and that censorship expresses weakness not strength”.
WikiLeaks laid out the website’s publishing policy, saying that they accept material that is of “diplomatic, political, ethical, or historical significance, which has not been published before, which is being suppressed …”
Where does this suppressed information come from? The answer was found in whistle-blowers as refuges for those information. Internal documentation put forward by whistle-blowers bridges a gap between the portrayed image of an institution, corporation or government and the actions of the inside circle held behind a veil of secrecy or deception.
The act of whistle-blowing in a higher sense is an effort to reach out to public in honest communication. Whistle-blowing is a fundamental aspect of true journalism. WikiLeaks’s offers an avenue for those voices that are likely to be persecuted or ignored, making it the publisher of last resort. It applies existing legal structures to publish and guarantee a freedom of speech not filtered by private interests. The website founders saw that the best way to secure protection for a source is not to know who they are in the first place. Therefore, the infrastructure is built so no one can trace the communication path and they can protect anonymity at the source. The system of anonymous drop-boxes provides a secure platform and helps those who are inside an organization to step forward and reveal wrongdoing and not be exposed. The foundation of WikiLeaks is built on a system of justice that provides an unfettered avenue of dissent, so oppressed voices can emerge from the margins.
With their ethos of justice, WikiLeaks incorporates the scientific basis of objectivity within the very infrastructure of their website. The technological system does not play favorites or target specific groups or governments. It is striving to practice neutrality in a commitment to the sources themselves. They are indeed source driven and do not actively seek out information.
The website is not meant to serve a personal opinion or need of Assange or the WikiLeaks staff. Its job is to simply verify the authenticity of the materials submitted, then find a way to best represent and manifest the wishes of the source. As part of effectively bringing the voice out into the world, Wikileaks makes what Assange calls some editorial work. He made it clear that it was not enough to release raw data. “When the material is more complex…especially military material which has lots of acronyms…it’s not even enough to do a summary ….” (Assange, April 18, 2010). He described how source material needs at least a summary for journalists to pick it up. Otherwise, it falls into the gutter and buried. He stated the need for some journalistic work by WikiLeaks and others.
WikiLeaks follows the journalistic convention of fact-checking or expects their media partners to do so. Yet, one of the things that makes WikiLeaks different from most mainstream outlets is another level of transparency. They always release the full source material related to a story. Assange emphasized the importance of a scientific approach in this process:
… everything we do is like science. It is checkable, independently checkable because the information which has informed our conclusions is there, just like scientific papers which are based on experimental data and must make that experimental data available to other scientists and the public if they want their papers to be published. (Assange, April 18, 2010)
When information that formed the conclusion is made available to the public, people can examine for themselves the validity of the presented disclosure.
Transparency of full disclosure is not simply stating one’s motives, but requires actions to be known to the public, where people can discern honesty from empty rhetoric and lies by making a link between stated motives and actual deeds. It is a simple science of matching words with actions. For instance, John Esposito in the article Rhetoric vs. Action in American Diplomacy described the gap between reality and rhetoric in American diplomacy in the Arab world. Obama’s campaign speech of hope and change that was welcomed by the Muslim world stands now in stark contrast with the hypocrisy of the real actions of this administration with its drone attacks and assassinations.
Unlike many governments and corporations, WikiLeaks has an impeccable track record of integrity in this and in protecting the vulnerable. Since the beginning of its existence the organization’s massive US government releases could not been shown to have harmed a single individual, yet have contributed to positive reforms in numerous oppressive countries. The body count that resulted from Pfc Manning’s alleged leaks has amounted to zero thus far, while his accusers stand bloodied from head to toe.
This creed of transparency does not negate the importance of objectivity. Instead of a false pretense of neutrality where one’s actions and words do not match, WikiLeaks gives honest disclosure of motives and agenda and puts the information they receive out for public scrutiny. Objectivity cannot be attained through simply claiming to be bias-free. It can only be determined in an open space of dialogue that forms the court of public opinion, engaging people freely in the science of matching rhetoric with action.
Indeed, this transparency brings a new kind of objectivity. It is objectivity that understands what can be objective and what cannot. Once this objectivity is reached, those engaged in transparency move to the next step, what I call the art of editorial freedom.
The Art of Editorial Freedom
Once the limits of objectivity have been established, then the creed of transparency can move beyond the limits of operating under a false creed. Publishing all source material and stating ones bias and affiliations makes journalism honest. This situates the event on an agreed upon objective physicality. “Because Assange publishes the full source material, he believes that WikiLeaks is free to offer its analysis, no matter how speculative” (Khatchadourian, 2010). Only when this scientific approach is taken does a space open up for real editorial freedom. This freedom allows one to move in and incorporate aspects of the subjective field such as opinions and value judgments, which are often considered taboo in modern journalism.
Instead of pretending to be neutral and bias free, honest disclosure of motives allows journalists to connect with their convictions. What guides WikiLeaks’ technical infrastructure is their untamed passion for justice. The release of the Collateral Murder video was a good example. In Assange’s words, it needed to be communicated in a manner that could bring maximum political impact. Thus, the creative approach to the title, Collateral Murder. It was intended to replace the military-created euphemism of collateral damage which up to this point often excused the war crime of targeting civilians. Daniel Ellsberg, leaker of the Pentagon Papers said at the whistleblowers conference in Berkeley that the titling of the video was called extreme by many, but said, “it wasn’t. It was murder”.
In the Manning-Lamo Chat Logs, alleged whisteblower Bradley Manning wrote:
i cant separate myself from others… i feel connected to everybody… like they were distant family… i… care?… we’re human… and we’re killing ourselves… and no-one seems to see that… and it bothers me …. i want people to see the truth… regardless of who they are… because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public…(bradass87)
Manning wanted us to regain connection with humanity as a distanced family rather than separate and detached by dehumanizing rhetoric. By publishing the photo of the two Reuters news employees, Saeed Chamagh and Namir Noor-Eldeen in the Collateral Murder video, WikiLeaks remained true to the wishes of the source: to help the world see those who have been portrayed as enemies are actually human.
Indeed this was so effective that WikiLeaks’ site crashed from the traffic overload and the release gained massive attention from the public. Now the film Incident in New Baghdad has been nominated for an Oscar and the collateral damage euphemism that was used so much after 9-11 seems to have quietly fallen out of favor. In addition, many have credited seeing the Collateral Murder video as turning them actively against the wars.
When this conscious editorializing and the motives behind it are disclosed, the perceived political slant actually falls under a kind of artistic license. Assange was honest about this slant and at the same time, the organization released the full video for public examination. Contrary to the criticism that Collateral Murder was an act of manipulation, it was indeed a unique example of creative rendering, meant to break down the Orwellian framing of casual slaughter in the public mind and awaken the sense of humanity that has been numbed by this euphemism.
Transparency is an invitation for a certain quality of relationship, while the lack of it invites exploiting the relationship for one-sided purpose. It serves informed consent as opposed to manufactured consent.
Mainstream media has become a wing of corporate propaganda, perpetuating lies and entanglement in systemic dishonesty with the public. Using the Internet and social networks and guided by passion, ordinary people are stepping forward to take up the slack. Wikileaks is a non-profit effort in helping form a new peer to peer border-less global 4th estate. As “the intelligence agency of the people”, they perform as a vehicle for evidence of lies and corruption. The online collective Anonymous is going after the misdeeds of illegitimate authority and mobilizing actions to shed light on the gap between rhetoric and actions of politicians and any Corporation that tries to control information flow. Documentary film makers are revealing the true face of deadly corporate commodification of life behind the sheen of glorious advertisement. Citizen journalists, with live-streams, blogging and crowdsourcing are also breaking down the walls of deception.
In the 90s the WTO became the place where the richest 1% negotiated deals that impoverished millions without people knowing that their goose was being cooked. Current worldwide online and street protests against SOPA, PIPA and now ACTA and TPP are examples of how knowledge shared and free communication are currently fueling collective action to stop backrooms deals. After WikiLeaks release of the secret draft of ACTA in 2008, the intentions and motives of policy makers and powerful corporations were exposed. When people can see what is concealed, they can act on what they know. People in Europe took to the streets and this conspiring of ACTA was effectively stalled.
How does one explain the passion and push for direct common control of information that underlies such effective global movements? Is it really undermining legitimate authority, as Washington would have us believe? Or, is it simply a new kind of journalism?
What this whistleblower website is doing is nothing different than what the Press was supposed to be in the spirit of the First Amendment before the advent of modern corporation. Indeed, WikiLeaks is working directly with the same ideal of press freedom that the US Constitution was based on.
The Founding Fathers understood that all governments have an inherent tendency toward corruption and that the role of the Press is to counter that corruption with sunshine. They envisioned the Press to be a watchdog of power, and a servant of the people. In fact it was the only occupation that was given protection under the US Constitution for this very reason.
When governments and corporations abuse their power, it is the journalist’s responsibility to side with the common man and with justice. From the onset, the journalist’s role was never meant to be neutral and was actually intended to take an activist stance. WikiLeaks is a continuation of the great tradition of a free Press.
‘How do you prosecute Julian Assange and not the New York Times?’ a former administration official told Reuters. You can’t. What WikiLeaks does, bringing out information from a source is what journalists do and have done for decades as common accepted practice. The New York Times and WikiLeaks in this regard are fundamentally no different.
The real difference lies not in the releasing of sensitive materials, but in their allegiance manifested in their root affiliations and actions. The New York Times, under the banner of ‘professionalism’ only released ‘government approved’ materials. At one point, they even showed their pride in being praised by the White House after obeying orders not to publish material.
Over 40 years ago, The New York Times released the Pentagon Papers, and the 1971 Supreme Court decision made it clear that its publication was protected by the Constitution. The Times and The Guardian once defended the public right to know. Yet, now their treatment of WikiLeaks shows how they are betraying the foundational principles of the US Constitutional legal and political system. By violating their true professional ethics of commitment to justice and speaking truth to power, the established media has fallen from grace.
WikiLeaks as an organization follows an inner conviction that what is just must be allowed to speak for itself, independently of outer filters or influence. The fact that one small non-profit organization released more important documents than all the media combined in the past decades is simply a testimony of their commitment to the true role of the Press. WikiLeaks honest and brave admission of what cannot be objective, transformed the false creed of objectivity into a new ethic of transparency. They are here to provide to the public vital information that reveals the yawning gap between rhetoric and reality in the actions of a pompous elite. Such information allows everyone to confront reality and actively engage in altering the course of history.
George Orwell once said, “In a time of universal deceit speaking truth to power is a revolutionary act.”
This act of holding the powerful accountable is always revolutionary. In time, the media lost its roots, becoming an arm of power. WikiLeaks reconnects with old traditions of the Press and has blazed a new ground in the global age, where interconnection is more important than nation-state divisions and affiliations. This budding new journalism along with social media are bringing back the virtue of honesty as the higher foundation of human relationship.
Over 200 years ago, the Signers of the US Constitution were branded as the traitors and terrorists of their time by King George III, just as Assange and Manning are today.
Recently, Rolling Stone’s contributing editor Michael Hastings acknowledged that what Julian Assange is doing with journalism is truly revolutionary. With a global financial industry run amok, the passage of the NDAA and the drumbeats of potential world war, people around the world are rising up against illegitimate authority. WikiLeaks is revolutionary journalism in a time of universal deceit. It is here to stay because the only true journalism is revolutionary.
Allen, D. S. (2005). Democracy, Inc.: The press and law in the corporate rationalization of the public sphere. Chicago: University of Illinois Press.
Scott, D., & Usher, R. (Eds.). (1996). Understanding educational research. New York: Routledge.
Note: This article is a shortened modified version of an upcoming article Open Future Manifesto: Breaking the Spell of Orwell’s Dictum, and contains edited excerpts from my previous articles, Freedom of Speech in the Age of WikiLeaks and WikiLeaks: The Global 4th Estate.
Special thanks go to Asher Wolf for her crowd-sourcing, Shota Anonyveli and Mary Mullarkey for meticulous editing, idlewild606 for the creative transformation of the image, and Gabriele Müller, Ian DeBaron, Winston Weeks and Alissa Johanssen for creative input on the title. Without your help this article would not be what it is.