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2013 | Buch

Beyond WikiLeaks

Implications for the Future of Communications, Journalism and Society

herausgegeben von: Benedetta Brevini, Arne Hintz, Patrick McCurdy

Verlag: Palgrave Macmillan UK


Über dieses Buch

The 2010 release of US embassy diplomatic cables put WikiLeaks into the international spotlight. Revelations by the leaks sparked intense debate within international diplomacy, journalism and society. This book reflects on the implications of WikiLeaks across politics and media, and on the results of leak journalism and transparency activism.


We live in fascinating times. Technological, social, and political changes have created new opportunities for people to communicate and exchange information; participatory culture continues to expand in many shapes and forms, from Wikipedia to participatory political practices; and campaigns for transparency and openness are challenging established administrative routines. Yet, while such changes create opportunities for some, they pose challenges for others, many of which strike at the very heart of traditional power relations and structures. Although the extent to which the rise of the network society has altered relations is debatable, the fact that societal changes are afoot is undeniable. The rise and legacy of the online transparency and whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks offers a lens through which we can try and understand such changes. As WikiLeaks’ release of classified information becomes a historical moment and its repercussions become gradually clearer, it is useful to start reflecting on the broader implications of WikiLeaks’ practices and actions. What lesson does it represent for journalism, policy making, transparency activism, and social change? How does it help us identify transformations in these fields? What are the responsibilities, the consequences, and the changes brought by the freeing of an unprecedented amount of information?
Benedetta Brevini, Arne Hintz, Patrick McCurdy
1. WikiLeaks and the Networked Fourth Estate
This chapter explores how the WikiLeaks case intersects with larger trends in the news industry. It begins by describing the economic challenges faced by traditional media and the emerging pattern of what I call the “networked fourth estate.” This new media landscape will likely combine elements of the traditional news media with new forces in media production. “Professionalism” and “responsibility” can be found on both sides of the divide, as can unprofessionalism and irresponsibility. The traditional news industry’s treatment of WikiLeaks throughout this episode can best be seen as an effort by older media to preserve their own identity against the perceived threat posed by the new networked model. As a practical result, the traditional media in the United States effectively collaborated with parts of the Administration in painting WikiLeaks and Assange in terms that made them more susceptible to both extralegal and legal attack. More systematically, this chapter argues that the new, relatively more socially and politically vulnerable members of the networked fourth estate are needlessly being put at risk by the more established outlets’ efforts to denigrate the journalistic identity of the new kids on the block to preserve their own identity.
Yochai Benkler
2. Following the Money: WikiLeaks and the Political Economy of Disclosure
In a pivotal scene in All the President’s Men, the Oscar-winning film about the Watergate scandal, Bob Woodward, an ambitious young reporter on the Washington Post, goes to meet his anonymous, shadowy, informant, “Deep Throat,” in an underground car park. Woodward hopes the encounter will offer clues to possible connections between the burglary at the Watergate Hotel and malpractice in President Nixon’s re-election campaign. He is told to “follow the money,” a trail that eventually leads to Nixon’s impeachment and ignominious departure from office.
Benedetta Brevini, Graham Murdock
3. The Leak Heard Round the World? Cablegate in the Evolving Global Mediascape
On March 6, 2011, 100 days after US diplomatic cables leaked by WikiLeaks first appeared in the European and American press, an editorial on the WikiLeaks website celebrated the effects of the disclosures:
[In recent months] … the Tunisian revolution has removed a dictator of 23 years, we now know Arab countries urged America to take military action against Iran, why China cracked down on Google, that the UK government offered to “protect US interests” during its Iraq war inquiry … how the Yemeni government agreed to cover up US airstrikes on its soil, and that US diplomats were ordered to become spies and steal the DNA and other information from UN staff and NGO’s (WikiLeaks 2011a).
Lisa Lynch
4. WikiLeaks and the Public Interest Dilemma: A View from Inside the Media
Definitions of the public interest are not easy. It’s an abstract concept that in a postmodernist age may appear a little pompous and an idea that lags some way behind — in that version of the phrase rather more knowingly used in newsrooms — the racier interest of the public.
Chris Elliott
5. “Something Old, Something New … ”: WikiLeaks and the Collaborating Newspapers — Exploring the Limits of Conjoint Approaches to Political Exposure
New media are now contributing to the democratization of access to information, its creation, and its consumption. This has effectively altered the coveted gatekeeping and public agenda setting roles usually ascribed to traditional media. At the same time, a new relationship is emerging between these Web 2.0 media platforms and their traditional media counterparts, especially print media. While newspapers sometimes rely on less encumbered online sources for cutting-edge news exposés, the new-media entities also often count on the long-established traditional media institutions to provide credibility and critical analysis of new media’s Web-generated news content. It is this notion of a conjoint approach to political exposure that was evident in the WikiLeaks engagement of and association with traditional news entities such as the New York Times, the Guardian, Der Spiegel, the Jamaica Gleaner, and other newspapers as outlets for its classified secret content. The chapter argues that this collaboration, although an uneasy marriage of necessity, may eventually settle into a stable cohabitation of the public sphere and will help to redefine the character of media and the meaning of “news.”
Hopeton S. Dunn
6. WikiLeaks and Whistle-blowing: The Framing of Bradley Manning
Inquiries into freedom of expression and the rights of the press frequently highlight examples where ordinary individuals have taken it upon themselves to leak information to a journalist with the aim of exposing corruption, maleficence, or injustice. Hollywood films have contributed to a certain mythology surrounding whistle-blowing. All the President’s Men’s (1976) depiction of the covert informant “Deep Throat” in the Watergate scandal is an especially well-known example; others include The China Syndrome (1979), Norma Rae (1979), Silkwood (1983), The Insider (1999), The Constant Gardener (2005), The Informant (2009), and The Whistleblower (2010). In real life, whistle-blowers usually wish to remain anonymous, relying on the journalists to uphold the principle of “protecting their sources” to safeguard them from reprisals. The journalist-whistle-blower relationship can be challenging to negotiate at the best of times, and the whistle-blowing site WikiLeaks has transformed it in profound ways.
Einar Thorsen, Chindu Sreedharan, Stuart Allan
7. From the Pentagon Papers to Cablegate: How the Network Society Has Changed Leaking
On November 28, 2010, WikiLeaks, in partnership with five international media “partners” — the Guardian (UK), the New York Times, Der Spiegel (Germany), El País (Spain), and Le Monde (France) — began the coordinated public release of a cache of classified diplomatic cables that would become known as Cablegate. It was the largest leak of classified documents in American history.
Patrick McCurdy
8. Dimensions of Modern Freedom of Expression: WikiLeaks, Policy Hacking, and Digital Freedoms
The recent history of Internet development can easily be interpreted as a constant expansion of free communication and citizen journalism. From the open-publishing experiments by the global Indymedia network (http://​www.​indymedia.​org), to their emergence as a mass phenomenon through blogging and commercial social networking platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, to the incorporation of user-generated content by established media (e.g., CNN’s iReporter), to Wikipedia and similar projects, participating in the production of media messages, information, and knowledge has changed the ways in which understandings and interpretations about the world are created. The “people formerly known as the audience” (Rosen, 2006), i.e., the new generation of netizens, have applied the now-classic Indymedia slogan: “Don’t hate the media, be the media!”
Arne Hintz
9. Weak Links and WikiLeaks: How Control of Critical Internet Resources and Social Media Companies’ Business Models Undermine the Networked Free Press
In his seminal piece on WikiLeaks, Yochai Benkler (2011; also see Benkler’s chapter in this volume) makes a compelling case for why WikiLeaks is a vital element of the networked fourth estate and why we should view its harsh treatment by the US government as a threat to the free press. As he says, the case embodies a struggle for the soul of the Internet, a battle that is being waged through both legal and extralegal means, with major corporate actors — Apple, Amazon, eBay (Paypal), Bank of America (Visa), Mastercard, etc. — using their control over critical Internet resources to lean in heavily on the side of the state and against WikiLeaks.
Dwayne Winseck
10. Wikileaks, Secrecy, and Freedom of Information: The Case of the United Kingdom
The bulk releases of internal information about US military and foreign affairs by WikiLeaks were a shock to American officials in their scope and scale. However, so far, despite the public anger showed by the US government and immediate action against the lone alleged leaker, no new legislation restricting free expression rights has been adopted by Congress and signed by the president.
David Banisar, Francesca Fanucci
11. WikiLeaks, Anonymous, and the Exercise of Individuality: Protesting in the Cloud
When WikiLeaks released the Collateral Murder video in spring 2010, featuring a US army helicopter shooting Iraqi civilians, cyberactivism was not a hot topic in the mainstream media. However, thanks to the ability to leverage the potential of the Internet to influence political debate, WikiLeaks quickly imposed itself as a headline-grabbing organization. The mass media fell in love with WikiLeaks, not least because of its enigmatic nature, its organizational model based on individuality, and the juicy revelations about its frontman Julian Assange. In the wake of WikiLeaks’ major releases that year, the amorphous online network known as Anonymous also came under the spotlight, notably for its pro-WikiLeaks cyberattacks. In February 2011, a CNN journalist wrote, “Perhaps the most controversial incarnation of the WikiLeaks model comes from Anonymous” (CNN, 2011).
Stefania Milan
12. Anonymous and the Politics of Leaking
Once used exclusively to refer to people who staged fearsome Internet pranks, today the name “Anonymous” belongs to many individuals and groups engaging in diverse genres of collective action, ranging from online stunts and political campaigns to expediting in-person protests. Their interventions have included protesting the Church of Scientology, hacking into servers to scour for politically worthwhile information to leak, and providing technological support for citizens in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya during the 2011 Arab Spring revolutions.
Gabriella Coleman
13. The Internet and Transparency Beyond WikiLeaks
Not two months after WikiLeaks began to release the cache of diplomatic cables allegedly leaked by Pvt. Bradley Manning, Al Jazeera entered into a leaking experiment of its own. Though it was quickly overshadowed by growing uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, “The Palestine Papers”1 — a release of more than 1,600 documents from a decade of internal Israeli-Palestinian negotiations — marked an important milestone for Arab media. It was the first time a major Arab publication had been involved in notable whistle-blowing since 1986, when Lebanese paper Al-Shiraa exposed the Iran-Contra Affair.
Jillian C. York
14. WikiLeaks and the Arab Spring: The Twists and Turns of Media, Culture, and Power
In 2011, global audiences followed the uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) with inspiration, fascination, and astonishment. The use of media technologies and social media platforms became a focal point of discourse and spurred debates between techno-utopians and techno-dystopians as to the role new technology played in what came to be referred to as the “Arab Spring.” This chapter engages with the question of whether WikiLeaks’ releases of material related to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) contributed to the sudden explosion of angry protests, and it argues that such a connection exists, even though it has to be considered in the context of the broader media landscape and the political environment of the region. Further, the chapter places WikiLeaks in the context of emerging communication platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, which provided a human narrative on the activities and effects of oppressive regimes in the MENA region and served as important tools in the fight for freedom and democracy. Social media helped dissidents to organize protests and voice anger, and their social and cultural effects concerned conceptions of the individual vis-à-vis established authorities, destabilized societal attitudes toward authority and established hierarchies, and highlighted their own role in the construction of knowledge.
Ibrahim Saleh
15. Twelve Theses on WikiLeaks
“What do I think of WikiLeaks? I think it would be a good idea!” (after Mahatma Gandhi’s famous quip on “Western Civilization”)
Geert Lovink, Patrice Riemens
16. Amy Goodman in conversation with Julian Assange and Slavoj Žižek
The following is a shortened and edited transcript of a conversation between Julian Assange, editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, and Slavoj Žižek, Slovenian philosopher and cultural theorist. The conversation was moderated by journalist Amy Goodman from the TV news show Democracy Now! and sponsored by the Frontline Club. It took place in front of a live audience on July 2, 2011 at the Troxy, London, England.
Benedetta Brevini, Arne Hintz, Patrick McCurdy
Beyond WikiLeaks
herausgegeben von
Benedetta Brevini
Arne Hintz
Patrick McCurdy
Palgrave Macmillan UK
Electronic ISBN
Print ISBN