Is WikiLeaks the future of journalism?

By now we’ve all seen the dramatic pictures of the Apache gunship attack of the journalists in Iraq.

The film got into the wild thanks to Wikileaks. The non-profit organization has its server in Sweden and its registration in the United States. It depends on whistle blowers and other anonymous sources to get information out.

Foreign Policy ran a piece today (Apr. 7) discussing Wikileaks and 21st century journalism.

Is This the Future of Journalism?

Given the cut backs in editorial staff in news organizations, maybe Wikileaks is the future of journalism. But what does that say about the state of journalism — especially in the United States — if news organizations have to contract out the work their own reporters should be doing.

In his Foreign Policy entry, Jonathan Stray takes a quick look at the issues involved.

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.

But, as Stray later points out, Wikileaks is not a news organization as we know it. It does not owe allegiance to the public but rather to a political agenda.

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.”

on their own web page, Wikileaks makes it clear it is not an impartial gatherer of facts.

The Sunshine Press (WikiLeaks) is an non-profit organization funded by human rights campaigners, investigative journalists, technologists and the general public.

When the Washington Post ran the Watergate stories, it was not the policy of the paper to bring down the Nixon Administration but rather to shed light on government actions.

Major news organizations and journalism groups — including the Society of Professional Journalists — offer moral, legal and financial support to Wikileaks.

I am not upset that Wikileaks exist. I am upset that news organizations have failed readers/viewers/listeners so much that they have to depend on out sourcing news gathering. Without some sort of active participation in the process, how can editors or news directors trust the reliability of the information?

But, I guess we will just have to keep going. We are where we are.

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  • I think this line says it best: “Without some sort of active participation in the process, how can editors or news directors trust the reliability of the information?”

    Any other sources are supposed to be vetted. Who’s vetting wikileaks?


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