Wikileaks Desperately Seeking Someone Who Cares

Wikileaks leads to more work for journalists, not less.

Obsession with the Wikileaks story lead to my combing old interviews, speeches, panel discussions, and everything else in an attempt to understand the man behind it all. But it was an almost casual aside by Julian Assange during a modest panel discussion at Berkley that inspired what follows.

Responding to a question about why Wikileaks altered its format, moving from raw data to writing articles, Assange provided an interesting insight into the way people work, and what they use the internet for. The founders of Wikileaks thought the general public, with their predisposition to spending free time updating Wikipedia or blogging, would jump at the chance to mine Wikileaks, to put their efforts into developing real stories. The reality, is that before Wikileaks started writing their own articles, contextualizing and categorizing, and utilizing the resources of the mainstream press, material went untouched and then forgotten.

“People blog about their values” offered Assange in an attempt at explanation. Indeed, the hope of rallying the general public to do the work of a journalist was naive, though one can understand the blinders. We, the general public, are all too aware of the half truths and obfuscation perpetrated by governments and big business, and that the mainstream media is but a pawn of our duly elected and self appointed overlords alike. Be that as it may, the urgency and importance of combating said machine is hardly a priority in our lives, and nor is it particularly entertaining.

People will write about what they want to write about is as succinct, if leaden, a way it can be put. For much the same reason, we have charities specializing in particular causes, and not simply one body we call ‘Charity.’ Young women need little prodding to volunteer to help stop breast cancer, but those same spunky first years will fail to rally for better veteran’s benefits. A democratically run centre for charity, doling out funds wherever it is deemed most worthy may seem like an ideal, but the consequence of such a system would be to foster ambivalence amongst those predisposed to getting themselves behind a cause.

Guilty as charged. I am not about to dedicate my free time to peeling away the black of a redacted government cable, but will continue motoring along my chosen path – calling Jesus a spaz and desperately trying to convince you that pedantry and the love of language are not compatible.

Robin Lindsay



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