Saturday, July 4, 2015
Seminar 3 Position Statement Prof. Richard Lance Keeble, Journalism, Univ. of Lincoln
I will examine a range of questions thrown up by the Snowden revelations - and their implications for journalism and the democratic process.
How legitimate is it for Glenn Greenwald and his close circle of journalists (now grouped around The Intercept) to hold a monopoly on the distribution of the Snowden revelations. Are there not conflict of interest issues to consider when The Intercept is funded by the billionaire owner of Paypal, Pierre Omidyar? Is it not interesting that Sibel Edmonds, whistleblower and founder of the boilingfrogspost website, has reported an NSA leaker revealing close ties between the NSA and PayPal corporation?
Why is only one media outfit (the website Cryptome) keeping a tally on the continuing publication of the Snowden files? How many files are there, in fact? We, the public, have still no idea. We know that only a tiny proportion has been revealed – just 2 per cent possibly. Why? What is being held back?
Was not the dissemination of the Snowden files an extremely ‘managed operation’? Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger said he had over a hundred meetings with government representatives discussing publication. Intriguingly Chris Blackhurst, of the Independent, said he would never have published the revelations. ‘If MI5 warns that it is not in the public interest who am I to disbelieve them?’
How original are Snowden’s revelations? Had not much of the same data been previously revealed on Cryptome website and by James Bamford (in say his The Shadow Factory: The Ultra Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America, New York: Doubleday, of 2008)?
Journalism is dependent on the ability of reporters to maintain sources’ confidentiality. Yet do not Snowden’s revelations about state surveillance of electronic communications (emails, Google searches, Facebook and other social media) and the breaking of encryption protections indicate that such confidentiality is no longer possible?
Do not the recent revelations about intelligence and police snooping on reporters’ communications and the attacks on whistleblowers in the UK and US (Assange, Kiriakou, Manning (Madar 2012),[i] Russell Tice, Thomas Drake, Jeffery Sterling, William Binney, Mark Klein etc) provide evidence of further threats to journalistic activities?
Research suggests that corporate media have long been too closely tied to dominant political, military/industrial, economic interests and so are largely unable perform their essential democratic function and operate ‘in the public interest’. Historically many mainstream journalists have worked as agents of the secret state (Keeble 2010) [ii]– and recent revelations suggests this continues to this day. Does this not make Roy Greenslade’s comment: ‘Fleet Street is a mere plaything of the intelligence services’ all the more relevant? (Cited in Keeble 2010).
How should journalists and citizens react? Do not schools of journalism now have to teach that only radical journalism is relevant? Is not all the rest mere ‘churnalism’ for the powerful interests in society? With radical politics there has to be radical journalistic techniques: since electronic communication is now compromised, face to face interviewing of sources has to be the priority.
And are not now the most important media on the secret state and its secret wars non- corporate alternatives such as tomdispatch.com, counterpunch.org, globalresearch.ca; boilingfrogspost.com; lobster, whowhatwhy.com, intelnews.org, wsws.org, infowars.com, coldtype.net, anti-war.com; the writing of Pepe Escobar at Asian Times (http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Others/Escobar.html) etc? (Keeble 2015 forthcoming).
Keeble, Richard Lance (2010) Hacks and spooks – close encounters of a strange kind: A critical history of the links between mainstream journalists and the intelligence services in the UK, The Political; Economy of Media and Power, edited by Jeffery Klaehn, New York: Peter Lang pp 87 – 111.
Keeble, Richard Lance (2015 forthcoming) Giving Peace Journalism a Chance, in The Routledge Companion to Community and Alternative Media, London: Routledge, edited by Chris Atton.
Keeble, Richard Lance (2015 forthcoming) Journalists and the Secret State, in News from Somewhere: A Reader in Communication and Challenges to Globalization, edited by Daniel Broudy, Jeffery Klein and James Winter, Wayzgoose Press, Eugene, Oregon, USA.
Madar, Chase (2012) The Passion of Bradley Manning, New York: Or Books.
[i] See Madar, Chase (2012) The Passion of Bradley Manning, New York: Or Books
[ii] See Keeble, Richard Lance (2010) Hacks and spooks – close encounters of a strange kind: A critical history of the links between mainstream journalists and the intelligence services in the UK, The Political; Economy of Media and Power, edited by Jeffery Klaehn, New York: Peter Lang pp 87 - 111