Monday, July 26, 2010

Wikileaks: Investigative Journalism or “Irresponsible” Journalism?

A newspaper called Wikileaks is at the center of controversy today as it will release 92,000 "secret" documents on the Afghanistan war. The White House is saying the release of information is irresponsible and is a threat to security of our forces in the region. "The United States strongly condemns the disclosure of classified information by individuals and organizations which could put the lives of Americans and our partners at risk, and threaten our national security," National Security Adviser James Jones said in a White House statement (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-07-25/u-s-denounces-publication-of-classified-documents-on-war-in-afghanistan.html). Wikileaks provided the New York Times, The Guardian and Der Spiegel access to these documents several weeks ago. All three news outlets are stating that the documents bring to light certain elements of the 9-year war but "no smoking gun" exists.

In light of last week's knee jerk reaction by the White House and the NAACP and the fact that wiki is part of this groups name begs the question of the legitimacy of their documents or how they obtained them. To Wikileaks credit they did allow other organizations, see above, to vet the information. The article "CNN Host Calls for Crackdown on 'Bloggers' in Wake of Sherrod Incident: 'Something's Going to Have to be done'" from newsbusters.org highlighted the suggestion that a "gatekeeper" is required on the internet because bloggers can post items anonymously without any accountability. Everyone knows, or at least should know, that anyone can post anything in the blogosphere and one should do their due diligence to vet the information before taking it as gospel. Perhaps if organizations like CNN did their journalistic job and got back to investigative reporting the deceptions of the blogosphere would never see the light of day.

Then again, without the internet press, like Wikileaks, would the truth about the Afghanistan War come to light? Don't we, as readers of things on internet, need to ensure the information we are reading is accurate? Or are we suppose to once again turn to the government to tell us which information is true and which are not? I fear a society that relies so heavily on the government to vet the information.