WikiLeaks ‘shows up media’s docility to authority’

The chief executive of Index on Censorship has questioned the will of the mainstream media to put governments under proper scrutiny.

While recognising the important limits on free speech, John Kampfner argued that WikiLeaks “shows up our media for its docility at the feet of authority,” with the latest leak revealing a US agenda that the press has apparently been oblivious to.

“The mainstream media in the UK is a serial offender… devoting precious little time or energy to challenging authority through rigorous investigative journalism,” he said.

“Far from being ‘feral beasts’, to use Tony Blair’s phrase, the British media is overly respectful of authority. Newspapers and broadcasters tend to be suspicious of those who do not play the game, people like [WikiLeaks founder] Julian Assange who are awkward outsiders. Some editors are quite happy to help the authorities in their denunciations of him, partly out of revenge for not being in his inner circle.”

Newspapers that obtain sensitive information “should be capable of separating the awkward from the damaging,” he said. The issues raised by the latest leak are “vital for democratic debate” and the inevitable embarrassment is also “healthy for a civil society” – but Kampfner suspects the latest revelations will lead to “legislation in a number of countries that makes whistle-blowing harder than it already is”.

(Source: Independent)

This article appears in issue 263 of Media Digest.




“Before we all sink into a slough of digital dystopian despair, it might be worth considering this: is this a sign of the strength, not weakness, of revelatory journalism in the digital age?”

Charlie Beckett, director of POLIS at the London School of Economics, reacts to news that the UK government forced the Guardian into destroying hard drives that contained information leaked by Edward Snowden.

(Source: POLIS)


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