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2012 – a year of irony for the media industry?

December 29th, 2011 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Comment, Funny, Journalism

By Matt Buck, currently engaged as engraver to @tobiasgrubbe

If…

1. Rupert Murdoch revives the News of the World, but online-only.

2. Nick Davies loses his job at the Guardian, but joins the revived News of the World as part of its investigative team.

3. The Guardian poaches the “fake sheikh” Mazher Mahmood from the Sunday Times.

4. A trend develops for floundering local newspapers to be bought out by local entrepreneurs, returning control and vested interest to their communities.

5. The Leveson inquiry into the culture, practice and ethics of the UK press concludes nothing needs to be done about unethical and/or illegal media practices, as they are redundant because everyone is publicly revealing everything about themselves on social media sites like Facebook anyway.

6. Journalists are officially declared to be bloggers, thereby ending a perennial (and very tedious) debate.

7. The Guardian launches a paywall.

8. Richard Desmond, founder of Northern & Shell and owner of Express Newspapers is knighted in the New Year Honour list and becomes chair of the Press Complaints Commission (PCC).

9. Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and is appointed National Security Adviser to the Obama administration.

10. Facebook buys the Daily Mail, as part of a number of strategic acquisitions of ‘accordant’ news outlets throughout the world.

Thanks to Matt Buck for permission to use his excellent cartoon.

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#media140 – El Pais writer Joseba Elola ‘witnessing history’ with WikiLeaks

“I’ve never lived something like that and I don’t think I will live something again like that,” – these are the words of El Pais staff writer Joseba Elola, reflecting on his work on the diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks.

Speaking on a WikiLeaks roundtable discussion at #media140, Elola spoke about the journey from arranging to meet with Julian Assange for an interview, to helping El Pais join outlets such as the Guardian and Der Spiegel as a media partner of the whistleblower website in its release of more than 250,000 secret and confidential cables sent by US embassies around the world.

Three months after requesting an interview with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the pair met, Elola told the conference.

He is a fascinating character, a brilliant person, extremely intelligent.

At the end of the interview I asked him if he had anything on Spain. Why don’t you include also a Spanish media as part of your launch, I asked him, why don’t you transfer your documents to El Pais, we will help.

He said let him mull it over. I came back to Madrid, I was excited and then quite an ordeal began.

You meet them, you see them, but then it takes a long, long while to get to see them.

I got an email from him three weeks afterwards and in the newsroom we were excited, finally that long-awaited email came asking for the specific number for the director.

I have never lived anything like it in my life, it was like witnessing history of the 21st century.

All of a sudden you get new information every day, day after day, it was a very exciting experience.

Speaking further with Journalism.co.uk he added that while he fears it will take “years before we manage to get another release of such relevant information”, he is “so happy to have been able to play a little role in that story”.

I hope we keep on being a reliable media for any platform; WikiLeaks, OpenLeaks, KanariLeaks, BrusselsLeaks or whatever.

I think the important thing is to keep your brand reliable to the public and I hope that the fact we were involved in Cablegate might raise some confidence in the people who leak information into the public, too.

I really think the media for years have been a little bit asleep and didn’t do their job properly, and I think WikiLeaks brought something really good for journalism and for society.

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Dinner with Julian Assange

February 7th, 2011 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Niche, PR

This Wednesday at 6:30pm, “people from around the world” will reportedly “commence dining” in what appears to be a fundraising initiative from under-siege whistleblowers’ site WikiLeaks.

All you need to do to join the party is make a donation to the site. And there is more bang for your buck than just dinner, you also get a password to play a video message from Julian Assange.

After you have filled out our pledge form you will be given a password (keep it safe!). The password will unlock a video for you to play at your dinner that will be available from 6.30pm GMT.

In the words of Julian Assange – “There are four things that cannot be concealed for long, the sun, the moon, the truth – and dessert!”

Check out this rather snazzy website for more information.

“Take a bite of truth!”

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MediaGuardian: Follow Julian Assange’s extradition hearing live

February 7th, 2011 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Legal

WikiLeaks’ editor-in-chief Julian Assange is in court today to fight extradition to Sweden on charges of rape, molestation and unlawful coercion.

The Guardian’s Simon Jefferies is live blogging the hearing.

Follow updates on Guardian.co.uk at this link.

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Clay Shirky: WikiLeaks has created a new media landscape

Clay Shirky, author and professor at New York University’s interactive telecommunications programme, has contributed to the Guardian’s Comment if Free with an analysis of WikiLeaks’ effect on the media and publishing environment.

WikiLeaks, as my colleague Jay Rosen points out, is a truly transnational media organisation. We have many international media organisations, of course, Havas and the BBC and al-Jazeera, but all of those are still headquartered in one country. WikiLeaks is headquartered on the web; there is no one set of national laws that can be brought to bear on it, nor is there any one national regime that can shut it down

WikiLeaks has not been a series of unfortunate events, and Assange is not a magician – he is simply an early and brilliant executor of what is being revealed as a much more general pattern, now spreading.

Full post on Guardian.co.uk at this link.

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The Drum: Julian Assange and the journalism defence

According to the US Department of Defence spokesman Geoff Morrell, the DoD is “hard at work building a case” against Julian Assange. Any case they do build will likely be based on a prosecution under the 1917 Espionage Act.

There have been some passing comments recently from the likes of Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger and New York Times editor Bill Keller about whether or not Assange is a journalist or not. Far from idle debate, or just semantics, the definition could prove key to defending himself against the US. ABC’s The Drum blog has the full analysis.

Well, why does it matter whether Assange is a journalist or not? It certainly might matter to Assange, because under the US Espionage Act it’s an offence for anyone to disclose information pertaining to America’s national security and which he “has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States”.

A journalist, the courts by and large accept, has an occupational motive for disclosing information that comes his or her way, more or less regardless of consequences. But if Assange isn’t a journalist, what is his motive? If it could be shown that his specific purpose, in passing the cables to newspapers around the globe, or in posting them on WikiLeaks’s own websites, was to injure the United States, he might be caught by the act.

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Frontline Club on its meeting to discuss Vaughan Smith’s support for Julian Assange

We missed this report being published at the end of last week, but it follows a meeting of members at the Frontline Club to discuss founder Vaughan Smith’s support of Julian Assange and Smith’s decision to give Assange a bail address.

At the meeting, which chair John Owen described as “unprecendented”, it’s reported that there was widespread support for Vaughan’s stance, although some concern was raised about his perceived role in the case.

The main areas of concern were that Vaughan was seen as a spokesman for WikiLeaks and that the distinction between his personal support for Julian Assange and WikiLeaks and the Club could get lost in the reporting of the story.

It was suggested that the Trust should take on the responsibility of the PR and appoint a spokesperson to relieve Vaughan of what had become an “impossible task” of dealing with the press.

While there was a great deal of support expressed for the WikiLeaks operation, some journalists were concerned that the Club should be impartial and not take on a campaigning or advocacy position.

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Assange: The US cannot take down WikiLeaks

January 31st, 2011 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Broadcasting, Editors' pick, Journalism

If you’re a whistleblower and you have information that’s important, we will accept it, we will defend you and we will publish it.

This was the message from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in an interview on CBS News’ 60 Minutes, where he also insisted that the US does not have the technology to take the WikiLeaks site down.

Just the way our technology is constructed, the way the internet is constructed. It’s quite hard to stop things reappearing. So, we’ve had attacks on particular domain names. Little pieces of infrastructure knocked out. But we now have some 2,000 fully independent in every way web sites, where we’re publishing around the world.

In the interview, Assange also challenges the idea that WikiLeaks goes after certain parties.

We don’t go after. That’s a bit of a misconception. We don’t go after a particular country. We don’t go after a particular organizational group. We just stick to our promise of publishing the material that is likely to have a significant impact.

He also defended the organisation’s harm minimization process, although admitted that “it is absolutely impossible” to say that nothing WikiLeaks ever publishes will result in harm.

Read Journalism.co.uk’s interview with former WikiLeaks in-house journalist James Ball, who worked for the group on the preparation and release of the US embassy cables, at this link.

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WikiLeaks to be subject of New York Times’ first e-book

January 27th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Editors' pick

The New York Times is to publish its first e-book on Monday, which will take a look at WikiLeak’s activities lin 2010.

“Open Secrets: WikiLeaks, War and American Diplomacy,” includes an introductory essay by the newspaper’s executive editor Bill Keller, where he explains the paper’s role in the release of documents. An excerpt of that can be found here.

It will also include profiles of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and analyses from NYT correspondents of the documents in the book, which will reprint the full text of all the cables and war logs published on the NYT’s Web site, as well as an additional 27 cables selected for the book.

The e-book will be available from Monday (31 January) and an excerpt of Keller’s essay will be published in the New York Times Magazine on Sunday, his first piece as columnist for the magazine.

Earlier this month the Guardian announced it would be publishing its own book detailing its partnership with Assange.

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AP: WikiLeaks looking to enlist up to 60 more media partners

WikiLeaks is seeking up to 60 additional media partners to help speed up the publication of its massive cache of US embassy cables, the Associated Press reports.

Editor-in-chief of the whistleblowers’ site Julian Assange told the AP that he wants to reach beyond traditional media organisations such as the Guardian, the New York Times and der Spiegel, with which he has worked on previous releases.

Assange has previously expressed frustration with the slow pace of the release of the secret diplomatic cables, and said releasing country-specific files to selected local media would serve to push them out faster.

Sometimes, that could mean doing what Assange called “triangulating the politics of a country” — giving documents to a left-wing paper in a country with a right-wing government, or offering cables to conservative titles in countries with a left-leaning administration.

Full story on Associated Press at this link.

h/t: Jon Slattery

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