Tuesday, 28 December 2010
So Julian Assange got beaten to the runners up position of the "Time Person of the Year." Big deal, the guy deserves Journalist of the Decade.
Through his Wikileaks website , Assange has technologically summarised work that would normally have been carried out by hundreds of journalist in different parts of the world.
Through the release of Cablegates, it was made evident that most United States diplomats have a more significant role, other than attending cultural dances in their host countries. In contrast to diplomats from African countries who are usually relatives of the ruling class, or from the same tribe as the ruling class, diplomats for the World's SuperPower are carefully chosen spies, whose role is to investigate and report on a range of issues that may have an impact on the SuperPowers interest and conquest all over the world.
This puts the diplomats in similar ranks to journalists, in the fact that journalists also investigate on a range of issues affecting their community. The interests of the United States and the deeds of several above par citizens in several countries are never far apart.
However, journalists investigating and reporting on several issues in most of this countries often face several hurdles. For instance, drug peddling in Mexico has become such an issue that even a journalist reporting on this risks a drive by shooting in his home. In other regions, journalist may meet similar fates such as accidents, 'robberies' and other form of intimidation from both the ruling class and non ruling class alike. They may find themselves in jail for a range of issues.
At times, the journalist may be lucky enough to finish their assignment and submit it to their editor. However, even the editors have more than often had other interests to serve. This is not often visible to the public as the editors are gods in the media. Depending on who their masters are and on whose bed they wake up on, the editors may decide to kill such stories, or rewrite them in a manner that one party ends up smelling of roses and the other of gun powder. At times, some journalists may loose their jobs for consistent 'bad writing' given that some publications have their masters to serve.
The diplomats, on the other hand , have a master to server who requires the true situation on the ground, given that their reports are required for strategy making.
Therefore, one Julian Assange has done journalists all over the world by consolidating what might have been a dangerous time and money consuming assignment into what is known as Wikileaks. For his troubles, Assange is nunited ow wanted for what are unclear sex charges and it still remains unlclear what charges the United States may press on him.
For millions of readers in the world, unadulterated information and status of what is happening in their countries and regions is now available.
Locally, drug dealers and the reportedly corrupt public servants are no longer numbers in a statement made by the US Ambassador. Most of us may never have dreamt of a day when a Member of parliament would stand to name fellow MPs implicated in a report. Thanks to Wikileaks, names mentioned by Kenya's Security Minister were already in the public domain as he read them in parliament.
If we cross our fingers, we may be lucky enough to read a redacted version of what policy makers in Washington had on the Robert Ouko and John Kaisser death's.
In the United States, president Barrack Obama just repealed a statute that did not allow gays to openly express themselves in the military. While this may be due to the pressure of overzealous gay activists, it may not escape the eyes of a few analysts that a soldier who exposed himself to a "patroitic hacker" as the source of the leaked US Cables says he leaked the information because he felt opressed as a gay US Service Man. Is the repeal of the act an effort to prevent a future occurence?
Which bring's me back to my point. In the perspective of the Journalism industry, Wikileaks has done journalism , with Assange taking the heat for been at the forefront. Wikileaks has saved the lives of a few journalists, as they can now quote "wikileaks" in their reporting. Wikileaks has even saved journalists the agony of "anonymous sources" and sources who part with half the information before getting a change of heart. Wikileaks has saved the lazy journalists a trip to the field, as they can now report from the comfort of their houses, as they happily chat away on Facebook.
As for the source of information published on wikileaks, that shall be the subject of another post. After all, a few critics are wondering if Wikileaks is not a ploy by the Washington inner circle to release information that the media has failed to release to the public. Perhaps, controlled release of this information may be useful in influencing the US strategy worldwide and at home, as it plays victim. The verdict is yours.