Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Is Julian Assange going to too far with Wikileaks?

Lucas Bechtol

As journalists, we have the ethical duty to seek and tell the truth, according to the Society of Professional Journalists' Ethical Code. Judging by this and this alone, then Julian Assange should probably be praised for his work in leaking untold thousands of government documents that serve to enlighten and bring some hard-bearing truths to the limelight.

But what about the other ethical code from SPJ, minimize harm? "Show compassion for those who may be affected adversely by news coverage... Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance," the code states. Yet, that appears to be what Assange is doing.

He is releasing sensitive and potentially dangerous information, one of the biggest ones being a release of diplomatic correspondence that revealed that U.S. diplomats called the Italian Prime Minister "feckless, vain, and ineffective," and that China thinks that King Jong Il of North Korea is a "spoiled child." What do these do to help anyone? They just prove that even politicians are real people and can talk about others behind their backs. The only difference is that our politicians need to be on good terms with these foreign politicians in order to work effectively with them. Knowing what American politicians say behind their backs is not going to help diplomatic relations with them at all. This could hurt our government in unnecessary ways because these documents did not need to be released for any sort of reason.

In fact, Col. Dave Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman, has said "We do get a sense there has been some pulling back because of these revelations," he said. "We have gotten indications that there is at least some change in how individuals and governments cooperate with us and share information."

Assange needs to be careful about what he posts, the search for truth should not endanger the way people work, especially not needlessly.

No comments:

Post a Comment