Off The Written Path

Exploring New Journalism

Off The Written Path

Is a Threat to Assange a Threat to Journalism?

February 8th, 2011 · No Comments · Tech Blog Posts

A recent post by Vadim Lavrusik at Mashable has me thinking: Is a threat to Julian Assange a threat to journalism?

The editors of The New York Times and the UK’s Guardian think so. Lavrusik reports that Bill Keller and Alan Rusbridger said they would stand by Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, if he is prosecuted for publishing documents on WikiLeaks. Both men spoke during a panel hosted by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

 I have been following WikiLeaks since the Afghan War Diary was published. I’ve read almost every news story I have come across regarding WikiLeaks. I have read some of the diplomatic cables published on the site. And then I became afraid. With politicians demanding  Assange’s prosecution, universities sending out emails to students warning them against mentioning the cables, and political pressure on servers to drop the WikiLeaks site, I began to wonder if Uncle Sam would come after me for reading the information about the inner workings of U.S. diplomacy.

 It is that flash of fear that tells me that Keller and Rusbridger are right to stand by Assange. This is the United States of America; we are not supposed to be afraid to access information about actions our government carries out in our name.

In “The Elements of Journalism,” authors Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel found that “The primary purpose of journalism is to provide citizens the information they need to be free and self governing.”

WikiLeaks does that. If it wasn’t for their site I would never have known that current U.S. officials tried to pressure Spain to drop an investigation  into the torture of terrorist suspects by the former U.S. administration. That is information I need to know to knowledgeably participate in this democracy, that is information that will affect who I will vote for in the next election.

If government officials threaten Assange in order to deny citizens that knowledge, then yes, a threat to Assange is a threat to journalism.


No Comments so far ↓

There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.

Leave a Comment