Tuesday, January 18, 2011

WikiLeaks, the Daily Show, and Journalism

Michael Bugeja writes at Inside Higher Ed:

Satirist Jon Stewart and activist Julian Assange are symbols of a world without journalism — a largely online marketing-based, consumer-driven world at odds with principles of democracy and freedom.

Stewart is often considered a journalist because he holds people accountable when many metro media outlets no longer do so in their downsized newsrooms. "The Daily Show" does this often by following up on what newsmakers did or said in the past and then comparing that to current, contradictory actions and statements. Wikileaks purportedly holds people and governments accountable. It does so, however, by “WebThink.” Whereas responsible journalists scrutinize motives of tipsters and fact-check authenticity of cables, WebThink just dumps it all on the Internet and lets computer chips fly where they may.


"We need to challenge the notion that digital media and traditional journalism are somehow mutually exclusive," states Dick Doak, 42-year veteran of The Des Moines Register and vice chair of my Advisory Council at Iowa State University. "The digital revolution doesn't obviate the need for traditional journalism skills. It makes them more important than ever."

As evidence Doak cites WikiLeaks’ cables, calling them "a meaningless mass of information until the Guardian and The New York Times made sense of them, using traditional journalism techniques."

WikiLeaks, he adds, proves we need traditional journalism more than ever "to decipher and interpret the information overload."

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