Emily Bell on how WikiLeaks and cablegate is forcing journalists and news organisations to assess their stance on the leaks and where coverage of it fits into their news agendas:
The idea that this is the first real battleground between the political establishment and the open web is very arresting. It also forces journalists and news organisations to demonstrate to what extent they are now part of an establishment it is their duty to report. Some like the Guardian, which has a long tradition of free speech attached to it, has been at the heart of disseminating WikiLeaks cablegate information.
…It is an excellent exercise for students (and editors) to think through what they would do. Many diplomatic and overseas correspondents one suspects already had a defacto access to the essence of the cables through their relationship with diplomats. Otherwise how are we so unsurprised by their content.
WikiLeaks has ignited a debate about the rights and responsibilities attached to freeing information.It has illustrated that Governments, however well intentioned, do not have the best judgement in terms of what it is right for citizens to know. It has shown that the established media no longer necessarily gets to make that call either, and forces us all to think about the consequences of that shift.