Discussion: Is It Journalism? WikiLeaks' Status In Media World Complex

This man has to answer allegations against him on a rape charge in Sweden. Let him deal with that first. Then one can think about his politics.


FFS this is like going to NAMBLA to get a quote about the complex status of pedophilia. Wikileaks is not journalism period full stop. There’s nothing plausibly called journalism that resembles it in the slightest.


I believe the issue may be much simpler. If reports are true that Assange provided Manning with cyber hacking tools to break a password on a classified system, then the crime is aiding and abetting a cyber attack and data theft.

If Assange had been approached by Manning with gigabytes of data already stolen then an argument about first amendment rights would be appropriate. But breaking and entering is a crime even if the person’s intentions were good.


Possession of a copy machine or a program enabling you to copy online does not make you a journalist. A journalist should provide context for facts so the reader can better understand them. Not all those who arguably are journalists do that all the time, nor are all those who provide distorted facts and/or context necessarily journalists as opposed to opinion writers. In any event, to the extent that someone does no more than copy and distribute, then he or she is not performing a journalistic function.
To argue otherwise is to suggest that spies collecting and distributing documents, albeit to a smaller audience, also are journalists.


What’s with the Wikileak stories chosen to be highlighted in this piece? You go out of your way to try and give Wikileaks partial credit for things like the Panama Papers, which they weren’t involved in, and completely gloss over things like their outing homosexuals in Saudi Arabia and other concerning behaviors with regards to personal privacy issues.

I know what you mean – but what if instead of “journalistic” we asked about “reportorial”?

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I think ‘reporter’ or ‘reporting’ in the context of general journalism means more than simply issuing or distributing existing documents; it’s a term of art. If the OSC finally gets to provide the background documents underlying the probe to Congress and maybe even the public, that won’t be as part of a journalistic venture although it would be part of the OSC’s report on the probe.


This is exactly right. Assange and WikiLeaks do not perform journalism in any form. Assange is a hacker that got in to the stolen documents publication game. I remember hearing a quote from Assange himself; when asked about doing basic journalistic functions like verifying information he’s received is accurate, his response was basically that that’s not his job, that he just publishes whatever he gets. And, of course, he and WikiLeaks got in to the influence peddling game by shopping the release of selected information.


Sure. Of course journalists sometimes bring to light information that others would hope to keep hidden, but it’s not journalism every time that happens. And being suspicious of the Trump administration’s motives here doesn’t make Assange a journalist either.


But Glenn Greenwald was apoplectic!
That proves he is a journalist.


It’s so ironic to see the #FakeResistance locked arm in arm with the Trump “Administration” so that they can get a pound of flesh out of their Scapegoat du Jour. (Is Comey back to being a hero again today or a villain? I lost track.)

Of course you’re right. WikiLeaks “receives” and then dumps data on the Web, with no attempt to contextualize it, let alone asks what it might mean or why it matters. By definition, that’s not journalism–the AP, of all people, should know this, and someone there should have a nice little chin-wag with whoever wrote the headline.

What WikiLeaks does is no different from the occasional research papers I get from students who, yes, do round up information from a required number of sources and then reproduce that information–perhaps they even remember to cite where it comes from–but otherwise have nothing to say about what they want their reader to think about all of this.


Wikileaks is to journalism what sewage is to drinking water. Needs to be processed.


I’d guess they know it well enough, but since other people are apprehensive that this could lead to persecution of real journalists they’re making the comparison and the AP folks saw an opportunity to make a few calls and do an easy news feature. And headlines are meant to create a certain tension in the reader’s mind to encourage them to read further. I think they could have made it clearer that journalists don’t publish information handed to them by Russian intelligence agents who stole it from an American political campaign in order to influence a national election. They don’t facilitate hacking either. But pobody’s nerfect, right?

I’m sorry to say I got a liberal arts degree without ever learning to do formal research myself. : (

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This is the position I have taken all along. At some point being the recipient of stolen documents has to be addressed.

Keep in mind that there is a crime called “receiving stolen property” which is intended to deter the intentional creation of a market for stolen property. I realize the 1st Amendment freedom of the press right might limit the application of that criminal law concept here, but I think of Wikileaks as an organization that knowingly encourages and publishes stolen information. It’s goal is to create a market for stolen information. Maybe it is journalism or maybe it isn’t. Maybe it is protected by the 1st Amendment or maybe it isn’t. Those questions need to be examined by our legislative and judicial systems.


The rape charges were dropped some time ago.

Let’s check out all the allies of authoritarianism siding with the Trump administration by re-defining the word “journalism” so as to narrow the scope of the First Amendment.

If Wikileaks isn’t bona fide journalism, what about FoxNews? It’s basically a propaganda mill. But if FoxNews is excluded, how about The Nation, or MSNBC, or CNN, or any corporate news outlet?

Here’s the thing: the Constitution doesn’t mention any professional standards when it protects the freedom of press. Free speech is guaranteed without any reference to professional standards. And that’s a better system than having the government make determinations about what is or isn’t allowed said protections. Because we cannot trust the government with the power to pick and choose what types of speech are not actually “journalism”.

It’s important to note that, as opposed to medicine or law or accounting or any number of professional trades, there is no credentialing body in journalism. Why not? Because it’s something anybody can do, and its value can be directly measured by a free market.


I believe the issue may be much simpler. If reports are true that Assange provided Manning with cyber hacking tools to break a password on a classified system, then the crime is aiding and abetting a cyber attack and data theft.

The documentation filed yesterday simply said “Linux operating system”. It’s ridiculous to call the Linux operating system a hacking tool.

Assange’s defenders are claiming that Assange is being falsely accused of hacking, and that his participation consisted solely of encouraging Manning to provide as much information as possible.

We’re in a bad world if providing an operating system will be represented as material support to cybercrime.

Julian Assange is locked arm in arm with Trump. Is he #FakeResistance too?

The stuff that that intelligence agencies dump into the WikiLeaks anonymous dropbox is a mix of fact and fiction. Does WikiLeaks sort that out? No.

Journalists know who their sources are. They are pledged to protect them but they do check them out to assess their credibility. Does WikiLeaks do that? No.

Assange was a fugitive who was looking for a get-out-of-jail-free card for the past seven years. He used selective release of information to punish his enemies and benefit those who promised to help him. This is what the National Enquirer was doing with its “catch-and-kill” stories about Trump’s bimbos. Is this journalism?