WikiLeaks sparks different reactions from journalists

By REBECCA LATTANZIO

WikiLeaks has been making headlines for months now, angering wartime officials and CIA officers time and time again. Whether you despise the mission of WikiLeaks or agree with its head, Julian Assange, that it is a public service, you have to admit that it has provided a new and previously unattainable source for journalists. Whether this source will be informative and insightful or dangerous and too powerful for its own good, only time will tell. The opinion about the wiki site is varying, even among journalists themselves.

Marc Thiessen, an opinion journalist for the Washington Post, blogged that WikiLeaks is a “criminal enterprise.” Within just a couple of months, Miles Keller wrote an article for The Daily Cardinal, the publication out of the University of Wisconsin, calling the WikiLeaks company “revolutionizing.” Both writers acknowledge the immense power that the site holds and touch on the fact that Assange may not be aware just how much damage he could do, but their bottom lines are on complete opposite ends of the spectrum.

Thiessen calls for nothing less than conviction under the Espionage Act and the indictment of Assange or even his arrest if foreign governments would not cooperate with “bringing him to justice.” Thiessen gives Assange and WikiLeaks no journalistic credit, but rather calls the site an issue of intense national security and says that these terrible leaks will only encourage others to engage in this criminal act.

Keller looks at the WikiLeaks site as an asset, especially to journalists. He mentions that before WikiLeaks came along only four news agencies, including The New York Times, that had access to some of this sensitive information. Keller does say that it was a mistake for Assange to release names because it put people on the ground in danger, but other than that he sees it as a necessary addition to investigative journalism. Keller defends his opinion by saying that it is the job of the media to keep an eye on the government and expose faults like the supposed abuse of Iraqi prisoners.

Which side of this argument you fall on depends a lot of how you feel about the role of journalism and the role of government institutions. WikiLeaks has created a new playing field for investigative journalism and only time will tell how dangerous or beneficial it can become.

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