Tuesday, December 28, 2010

No, I'm Not Comfortable With Geeky Young Men Making News Decisions For Me

I keep wondering what is in the Wikileaks cables that haven't been released and the reasoning behind the order of release. I've been told, and it seems to be on the interwebs somewhere, that Wikileaks negotiates with their chosen news organizations to decide on every day's releases.

But news organizations also fall out of Wikileaks favor. The New York Times irritated Julian Assange before enough started happening that any number of newspapers now may have printed the equivalent of what the Times did that irritated Assange. And I think the Guardian, or another European paper, may now be on the s***list too.

I'm not following the stories very closely, although I am alert for explanations when they appear, having missed them early on. Assange has written a number of pieces on his philosophy, if it can be called that. It seems to be that governments and wars are wicked, and the clear light of day will end the wickedness. At the same time, he seems less than willing to face the Swedish charges against him in the clear light of day, although he has accepted an invitation to write about his life, no doubt with the same level of censorship he has displayed in his responses to the Swedish charges and his method of releasing the cables.

Complicating the problem are another group of geeky young men at Wired magazine (via). Apparently Kevin Poulsen, a senior editor at Wired, has material pertaining to Bradley Manning's conversations with Adrian Lamo, another geeky young man who seems to have been working for the government. Poulsen is releasing this information as he sees fit.

Are you following this? I'm not sure I am.

You can argue that Assange and Poulsen are doing the same sort of thing that Bob Woodward does, except Woodward does it in best-seller books. I've not found Woodward's leaks all that compelling or praiseworthy, either.

The whole thing reminds me of the unpleasant late-adolescent men I've known, who have all the answers to the world's problems and are going to inflict them on me. This particular bunch seems to have possession of some stuff that may be interesting, but they also seem to be determined to deal with it their way.


Peter said...

So would you rather have WikiLeaks and their MSM partners dump the entire archive at once? I think there's something to be said for allowing time for bits to be digested before taking another bite.

And speaking as a lazy consumer of news (I seek out what I want, but rarely search for counterfactuals), I'm reading about* these cables more than I would be if they were all published already.

*being lazy, I haven't read too many of the original cables - just the analysis of them. It really depends on my mood and my work load.

Cheryl Rofer said...

Hi Peter -

I don't have an answer for your question. The problem is that any choices by Assange et al. are likely to reflect their prejudices, which, from what I've seen, I don't like. Transparency for thee but not for me.

And there are further problems with portioning things out. As I said earlier, much of what we're seeing in the cables is second- and third-hand. So were there other cables on the same subject supporting or disagreeing? We don't know. Hopefully the news organizations are being conscientious on this. Even if they are, there's a lot of context outside of the cables that is needed.

Peter said...

All good points, to be sure. I suppose I'm if the view that what we're getting us better than nothing.

It will be interesting to see how the splinter group that broke with Assange operates. The name of their organization escapes me at the moment. OpenLeaks, perhaps?