Thursday, May 5, 2011

Can every leaky faucet be fixed?

Douglas Bair

The U.S. government and media thought the leaky faucet of confidential government records was fixed after the Pentagon Papers with Daniel Ellsberg. However, in the last couple years the faucet sprung a new leak with the creation of WikiLeaks by Julian Assange.

WikiLeaks has ranged in its coverage of release classified information about the U.S. government's actions, but most recently has been covering the death of Osama bin Laden and the U.S.'s role over the past decade.

Personally, I believe transparency in the media is crucial in order for a democratic society to thrive; therefore, the presence of outlets like the Pentagon Papers and WikiLeaks doesn't bother my ethics code. Yet, the abuse of these does.

Julian Assange defines his current use of WikiLeaks as more effective than government . This is a little bit disturbing because he doesn't have a journalism degree which would include taking an ethics course like this one. Because of this, I feel he lacks the knowledge about how to distribute news and information based on how society will react. The news plays an important role in shaping history and the outcome of society; thus, giving it the power to ultimately influence wars.

With WikiLeaks, credibility and truth are not always a given (only known to those who have studied), which the general public (or audience) is not keen to. Therefore, the public could be fooled into believing and false story or information then inciting chaos.

Finally, WikiLeaks is the first extralegal entity in the world, which leaves its punishment and legal enforcement to no one. Therefore, if WikiLeaks does harm by enticing chaos, there is no punishment. Assange and others realize this, which leaves them feeling powerful and the ultimate decision makers. As in all nations, the media must answer to a certain set of ethics and rules, which can be outlined in court cases. However, WikiLeaks doesn't fall into one jurisdiction.

Has the faucet of classified information ultimately been sprung beyond repair? And who are the plumbers that should fix it?

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