WikiLeaks is a website that exposes government secrets after verifying them. Is this different than journalism?
Julian Assange created WikiLeaks in 2007, according to an article in the Economist. The website was originally intended to be a place where individuals could anonymously contribute information otherwise unavailable to the public. Within a year of its launch, the website had grown to over one million documents.
WikiLeaks, whose slogan is “We open governments,” won many awards for doing exactly that. In 2008 it won the New Media Award from Economist magazine and in May 2010 the New York Daily News put the website first on their list of “websites that could totally change the news.”
WikiLeaks is a website that is completely voluntary and it prides itself in its ability to keep sources anonymous. The validity of any document submitted is verified before publication.
WikiLeaks has gone where no journalist has gone before. In an article, one Associated Press journalist wrote,
“News organizations have often sought information, including government secrets, for specific stories and printed secrets that government workers delivered to them, but
none has matched Assange’s open worldwide invitation to send him any secret or
confidential information a source can lay hands on.”
Some don’t believe that WikiLeaks is journalism. Robert Gibbs, the White House Press Secretary, says said that information WikiLeaks distributes is “reckless and dangerous,” and that it is “candid and often incomlete.”
WikiLeaks tweeted, and a CBS article reported, that the website was under a “distributed denial of service attack,” or “DDOS” on November 23. Essentially, this “attack” uses many computers that try continually to access the website. The website cannot keep up with all the activity, and therefore fails to load. The website is still inaccessible.
What do you think? Do you agree with Gibbs? Or do you think that WikiLeaks is the next database for fact checking in investigative journalism?