WikiLeaks: provider of good or bad truths ?

Using new technologies to disclose the truth. That’s the big mission of WikiLeaks. But is that really a good idea?

Born of the uncountable possibilities offered by the development of new technologies, WikiLeaks created kind of a new way to make journalism. Julian Assange, creator of wikiLeaks, explained, in an article published in “The Autralian”: “WikiLeaks coined a new type of journalism: scientific journalism. We work with other media outlets to bring people the news, but also to prove it is true. Scientific journalism allows you to read a news story, then to click online to see the original document it is based on.” As you probably know, WikiLeaks takes care of the online part of this scientific journalism. If you go to WikiLeaks‘ website, you will find an incredible amount of documents about all kinds of topics and made up of raw data. WikiLeaks doesn’t provide analyse, it just publish data on its pure state.

With this way of working, WikiLeaks wants to make possible and promote the total population’s information about all facts that can affect them. That’s really the first mission of WikiLeaks.

Internet, a provider of truth

“The idea was to use internet technologies in new ways to report the truth”, said Julien Asange to “The Australian”. And it is exactly what he did. He knew taking advantage of the big evolution of new technologies, and particularly posibilities offered by the Web 2.0,  to create a new form in informations publication.
Web 2.0 philosophy is to implicate the internet user, make them become an actor in the Internet universe. Julian Assange, by Web 2.0 and WikiLeaks’ website, decide to permit the citizen to become a real actor of the information transmission process. Simple citizen like you and me can send an information to WikiLeaks. And this with guarantee of total anonymity. Somebody in possession of relevant and maybe secret information (maybe not  like you and me this time) can then send them to WikiLeaks’ website. It’s a good way to make appear important and secret truths.

WikiLeaks delight and disturb

This is a new way to deal with informations. A kind of journalism which supplies an incredible amount of raw and important informations all around the world. But do you tkink this is really a good idea? Has the population to know everything? Isn’t this new kind of journalism on Internet dangerous? These questions are actively discussed in the society. And I suppose you already have your own opinion about the subject. But nevertheless, I will now expose main arguments of  defensors and  detractors of WikiLeaks.

First, let me begin with detractors. The apparition of WikiLeaks, its functioning using internet and its absolute search of truth provoked  a real wave of protests.  Lots of people, and particularly governments, denounced the activities of WikiLeaks. According to the website , the diffusion of different data, like for example the amercian Cablegate, disturbed political establishment. This one accuse WikiLeaks of treason and putting lives and states in danger by publishing informations classified top secret. Joe Lieberman, american senator, even considered that “The disclosure of these diplomatic cables is nothing less than an attack on the national security of the United States, as well as that of dozens of other countries.”

Considering these arguments, we can notice that the power of WikiLeaks really frightens. Moreover, in their fight against WikiLeaks, governments and other detractors have finally succeed in imposing silence on WikiLeaks. This by provoking a financial freeze.

But nevertheless, there is always a lot of people who approve the initiative of WikiLeaks. “WikiLeaks is a publisher  and a journalistic entity”, assert the journalist Mathew Ingram on Gigaom blog. And according to the International Principles of Professional Ethics in Journalism, all kind of media have the duty to inform the population about the reality of the society. It’s exactly what WikiLeaks does.
The founder of Mediapart Edwy Plenel  also underlined, in  an article titled “En défense d’Internet et de WikiLeaks“, the important contribution of WikiLeaks to the protection of the democracy. A total transparency about the governments’ facts and decisions will impose a good and fair way to govern. According to Edwy Plenel, WikiLeaks participate to the vitality of the information world and has legitimacy to exist. It confer much power to these new journalists on their quest for the truth and it’s a good point.

Totally convinced by the merits of WikiLeaks, Edwy Plenel created on march 2011 FrenchLeaks. A french website working the same way as WikiLeaks.

FrenchLeaks homepage

A complex question

Then, finally, who is right? On the one side, we have the need of information to guarantee a good and fair society. On the other side, we have the fear of putting the society in danger. What’s the most important?  A hard question.
I think that now, the society has to reflect about the role of journalists. The development of new technologies created new possibilities for journalists to make their job. But do they have to use all of this possibilities or do they have to put limits? Do they can disclose all truths?  And finally, is the development of Internet always a good thing, or does it provide too dangerous possibilities?

In my opinion, it’s important that the society, and particularly futur journalists like us, take time to think about these topics. In this short text, I just give a general panaroma about this subject. We have now to tkink about it and discuss it together. Then, you, what do you tkink?

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