Informed Audiences RE: Wikileaks

‘You can’t publish a paper on physics without the full experimental data and results; that should be the standard in journalism.’ (Jualian Assange, 2010)

Journalists are expected to abide by a code of ethics in the distribution of content, particularly the notion of objectivity. Where absolute neutral transmission of objective reality can be defined as impossible, in a journalistic sense, objectivity is a method used to test interpretations for bias or inaccuracies. This stance is alike to the way scientists test their hypotheses about phenomena . Julian Assange, self-labeled “information acitivist”, believes that media convergence has blurred the traditional philosophies of accurate and factual reporting, stating that the truth should always be presented unvarnished and verifiable. Assange launches Wikileaks, a non-profit website in 2006, aiming to disseminate sensitive material  for the public to use as a tool to make intelligent and informed decisions. For audiences, it is just as important to be objective when receiving information. Traditional and digital forms of journalism have pros and cons with regard to ethical reporting. Both vary in the delivery of material yet the significance lies within you as the reader. Advantages of receiving information online are that you have the ability to re-read, follow through links and images, as well as crosscheck information at your own pace (click-click-click). This idea was one of the driving forces for Wikileaks, and when Assange released the collateral murder video, in its pure and unpolished state, it was confronting for many viewers. As a result it assisted to open the eyes of the public and their perception of war, while causing a moral panic among government and media agencies.

Nonetheless, consuming content today is a double-edged sword. For example, citizen journalism means that anyone can post freely online (yay) however the information you’re reading may not be accurate. An online author often doesn’t have any academic credentials and may not have used reliable sources (nay). This element of the digital economy is what poses ethical concerns of journalistic integrity. Audiences must understand the significance of factual and balanced news reporting while also being objective and critical.

pressImage Source

We are all constantly consuming information, sometimes subconsciously. It is worthwhile to note when you’re watching the news or reading the paper, to keep in mind that the Fourth Estate enforce rigorous editing and presentation practices. This process may skew the representation of whole stories, individuals and groups of people, ultimately influencing the attitudes of consumers.

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