To Leak or Not to Leak?

When perusing through the news feed for this past election I was bombarded with a he said she said yelling match that ensued far past the inauguration. This situation not only made the truth unrecognizable, but it brought to light the lack of transparency within the government and political parties. WikiLeaks is an organization that is attempting to challenge this transparency in hopes of creating an unambiguous and truthful world, however their unconventional method has become quite a debate.

WikiLeaks is an independent organization that provides a platform for sources to divulge confidential information while remaining anonymous. In an article on the New York Times website, Sarah Harrison, editor for WikiLeaks, states that in a world “connected by largely unaccountable networks of power that span industries and countries, political parties, corporations, and institutions; WikiLeaks shines a light on these by revealing not just individual incidents, but information about entire structures of power.” This organization sees itself as the purest type of journalism by providing raw sources void of bias or corruption. WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, is an extremely controversial figure whom can be seen as a vigilantly for truth or as a threat to national security. Nevertheless, Bill Keller, former executive editor for The New York Times, perceives Assange as an activist for total transparency and one who truly believes in the good that WikiLeaks can bring to a world full of corruption which is carefully hidden behind a facade of deceit.

WikiLeaks was launched in 2006 but did not become associated with any media platforms until August of 2007 when is began working with the Guardian (Columbia University). Initially WikiLeaks did not attract much attention; hence, when the Guardian was approached by the organization again with confidential information from the Afghan and Iraq wars, the British news outlet suggested to bring The New York Times on board as well (The New York Times). This was the first time that Bill Keller had heard about the whistle blowing organization but was immediately intrigued. The journalists, armed with company lawyers and government officials who ensure all information would not pose a threat to military operations or vulnerable sources, finished the project in six months (The New York Times). The moment that article hit the press, people knew that the media had entered uncharted waters and a new frontier of journalism had begun.

Using WikiLeaks as a source for media platforms has proved quite a controversial topic. Julian Assange seems to have acquired god-like power over the most influential governments in the world and finds newspapers such as The New York Times as means of reaching people effectively. This bids the question: do news outlets, such as The New York Times, have a duty to their audience to report the confidential information given to them by WikiLeaks or should they refuse on the pretense of national security and support of a controversial figure? I believe that The New York Times, as well as other news platforms, have the right to publish any information given to them by WikiLeaks or any other credible source. Not doing so proves that they have extreme institutional bias and are providing a disservice to the people who read their articles. I am not naïve to the point of believing that Assange and his organization will not report information that might put people’s lives in danger, however, the pursuit for total transparency is respectable and I truly believe that the media platforms should use WikiLeaks as means to achieve that. Yet, this avenue should be pursued with caution and full awareness of the impact that the confidential information may have.


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