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
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
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
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
September 11, 2001.
Despite these public-interest successes, Wikileaks' disregard for gag
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
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.