We know by now that journalism is far from dead- even if newspapers are just hanging on by a thread. If anything, journalism has multiplied by user-created stories, old media magnets branching out in new ways and social media turned into a source for news-feeds. With these never ending options, journalism is an ever-changing beast that at times seems out of control. Now more than ever we digest Internet fodder as news while talk shows swerve into political territory.
The blurry lines dividing news and entertainment got even blurrier last week with WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks ended up on the tongues of big-time news anchors and political pundits thanks to its unflinching look inside the Afghanistan war. A hefty, 92,000-page classified U.S. military document wound up on the site, sparking debates about journalism ethics and new media boundaries. The bare bones website is a safe haven for anonymous whistle-blowers; indeed, WikiLeaks has made minor headlines in the past four years with classified military videos and leaked company documents. WikiLeaks gave three major newspapers a sneak peek at the documents before posting them on the site. Within hours, a tornado of publicity was unleashed and a national debate was in full swing. Bloggers say that WikiLeaks is the future of journalism and democracy while others have declared the site as yet another irresponsible byproduct of the Internet age.
The WikiLeaks fury is another sign of growing pains and tug of war between traditional media and online media. Is Internet journalism out of control? Yes – but, then again, it has been so for some time. And wasn’t television the same way in its early days? Whether WikiLeaks has crossed a line or sunk to a new low is kind of beside the point. The real question here is: Is it time for content to be monitored and edited like television? It web content an FCC issue? As traditional journalism continues to morph, eventually we’ll collectively have to figure out what is journalism online and how do we insure that the public is receiving the most accurate information.
So let’s lob this heady issue over to you, dear readers. Is WikiLeaks the wave of the future or the end of journalism as we know it?