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Take Today: The media as drop out. Todays buzz is certainly not yesterdays news: look at facebook or on twitter. When wikileaks released a video in june this year nobody blamed the Chinese dissidents who announced in 2007 that “they will launch a site designed to let whistleblowers in authoritarian countries post sensitive documents on the internet without being traced” for violating the values undergrinding western democracies. But in the last week Julian Assange became the center of attention for millions around the planet as its detention in England casts an enigmatic shadow over a charismatic character.
Marc Coddington provides a useful summery of the highlights of yesterdays news briefly and concise. Most professionals from the field of journalism and experts are torn between moralizing and analyzing the “full-out war on the internet”. But while most commentators attempt to reconcile their identity in the face of the new reality, few go beyond the surface level into the more profound implications of the wikileaks phenomenon. Others are just artistic expressions to update our sensibilities to the present. Robert Fisk is unlike others who always look into the rear-view mirror for a guide to the future rightly pointing to the loss of institutional memory as the cause of wikileaks rise.
“…Its a very sad day for journalism, in fact what appears to be happening is of a computer hacker… has become the new journalist”
Is wikileaks the failure of journalism? Very much, Fisk says and explains the larger consequence of wikileaks on the values undergrinding western democracies.
“There is one thing we don’t take into account. These are documents that eventually would have become in the public domain in 30 years time. Where of course historians would have read them and used them. Whats different about this is that we are now getting them online and in real time. And if this goes on, and the Americans actually cant improve their encryption of their own documents when they are floating around, we are going to have pretty soon a situation where we will know today what the British ambassador or the American ambassador is saying in Beirut yesterday. And this will be pretty astonishing.”
Not only is this the view of an icon in investigative journalism but also that of an informed historian. Needless to say the matters have worsen every day with journalists subscribe to the Cable Leak’s via RSS picking out what satisfies their national or nice audience. Neither in 2008 when wikileaks conducted an information auction into Chavez’s management, CIA activities in Venezuela and the Bolivarian revolution nor in 2009 when it publishes 9/11 messages
has it caused so much widespread discussion over the moral ground of the non-profit organization funded by human rights campaigners, investigative journalists, technologists and the general public. With the release of 250.000 diplomatic cables of “The Iraq War Logs” two weeks ago the tip of an iceberg is now melting. This caused already one victim. An 69-year-old diplomat was admitted to George Washington University Hospital after falling ill at work on Friday. Richard Holbrooke is a good example of what might happen to many more people over the shock wikileaks created by making public what was thought of being confidential. Finding himself on the front news of newspapers all over the globe can cause heart-attack. And it is only in the light of this tragedy that we can appreciate the conclusion Oiwan Lams blog post with the title “Why is china blocking wikileaks?” has to offer us. Maybe we are all wrong about our assumptions underpinning our self created identities. And it is good to remember that the same companies that build the “Great Firewall of China” hosted Wikileaks “alleged documents”.