Thursday, August 5, 2010

Wikileaked. Now What? / from Mediapost

A little more than a year ago, I kicked off this column with an article called "Journalism Rocks." Now, after the Wikileaks fiasco, that headline could read "Journalism Rocked."

Wikileaks' "sharing" of some 90,000+ classified documents relating to the war in Afghanistan has raised many sensitive issues, politically and from a media perspective. The most obvious of these is whether it is ethically correct to publish classified materials -- particularly if they could compromise national security. This is a polarizing question and one that divides journalistic opinion as to the very existence of sites like Wikileaks, which strives to remove all barriers to information (even the barrier of military classification).

Although the materials released by Wikileaks don't appear to have compromised national security -- yet -- they have cast a bigger shroud over the continued conduct of the war in Afghanistan, and likely further eroded public support for a desperately unpopular conflict. They have also highlighted the nature of media today and the role sites like Wikileaks play within it; the output of traditional media outlets and the so-called unvarnished, undigested, and importantly, un-vetted material put forward by new media and the blogosphere.

I see this contrast in terms of slant and opinion versus independently verifiable news, with accuracy and neutrality as valuation (and valuable) metrics. In this respect, information "dumps" like Wikileaks avoid the objection of being opinion masked as news and score high on neutrality, unlike the left-right media bias that has been swelling since the before the last election.

But as this leak has demonstrated, ensuring accuracy is a huge concern for news organizations everywhere. Wikileaks may twinkle with the glorification of democratized journalism, but it suffers from a profound lack of editorial superstructure that helps ensure accuracy and relevance.

Which is precisely what we have come to, and should, expect from our news sources.

To continue reading, click here.

No comments:

Post a Comment