Thoughts on Wikileaks

Posted: March 16, 2011 by Karissa Donkin in #8 Wikileaks

I’m not sure we all fully grasped the power of anonymity on the web until Wikileaks happened. Sure, anonymity has always been one of the lures of the internet. You can be anyone you want to be and talk to anyone you want, without that person knowing the real you. But who knew the veil of internet anonymity could spawn something like Wikileaks?

Wikileaks reminded us of the power of information because it showed us how much of a difference piece of information can make. For example, take the video of a Baghdad Airstrike Wikileaks posted. The video did not shine a positive light on the US military. Because of that video, people began to ask questions and hold the military accountable. The video showed an injustice and Wikileaks brought it to light. That information would probably still be under wraps if it weren’t for Wikileaks.

Wikileaks has changed the way journalists do their job. The site is a new source for journalists, but like a lot of information in this age, it doesn’t come without ethical qualms. Should journalists report the information in some of the cables because it’s public information and people deserve to know? Or should journalists stay away from the website because of how the information was acquired?

Wikileaks has shown the importance of investigative journalism, something most journalists must do to get to the bottom of some of the information in the cables.

Perhaps most notably, what hasn’t changed in journalism since the advent of Wikileaks or even the advent of the internet is that…well, we still need journalists. Those diplomatic cables don’t mean much to the average person – we still need a journalist to dig and find the story within the information.

Wikileaks is controversial but I think the idea is here to stay, here to remain a reality in the daily life of a 2.0 journalist. Even if the current version of Wikileaks is shut down, how long will it take before another site pops up? You can’t stop the flow of information.

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Comments
  1. sharonfawcett says:

    Karissa, I think you’re right that if Wikileaks is shut down, similar sites (“services”) will take over. In fact, I recently discovered something along the Wikileaks line while researching a paper on the 1994 Rwandan genocide and the accompanying massacres (1996-1997) committed by the Rwandan Patriotic Army in Zaire/DRCongo–which the UN is now saying may be genocide.

    Peter Erlinder, an attorney for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, has created a website (www.rwandadocumentsproject.net) to “make available primary source materials from international and national agencies, governments, and courts that relate to the political and social history of Rwanda from 1990 to the present.” While I believe the documents are declassfied, they aren’t things the average citizen could easily access, or even have knowledge of their existence. And, many of them paint an ugly portrait of the current Rwandan government, as well as other governments and international agencies. It’s no wonder Erlinder was arrested in Rwanda last June for “denying genocide.”

    So, I think in the future we may see more individuals/groups with an interest in certain governments, corporations, etc., creating sites similar to Wikileaks, to address alleged injustices that trouble them.

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