: A New Media Facilitating Democracy & Democratization?
Mitjo Vaulasvirta 28.11.2012
The whistleblower organization WikiLeaks entered the global public knowledge between 2006 and 2010 as a result of number of disclosures. WikiLeaks portrays itself as a watchdog of democracy that functions as journalistic media. As a producer of news content, WikiLeaks’ work can be classified as journalism, more specifically as watchdog or 5th estate journalism, but it differs from more traditional media outlets in the lack of journalistic ethics and the scope of the published material. WikiLeaks’ potential to facilitate democratization was manifested in the aftermath of the U.S cable leaks when popular mass movements sparked, or inflamed, as a partial consequence of the information that people in authoritarian or quasi-authoritarian regimes received from the disclosure. WikiLeak’s rise to global attention as the most prominent and famous whistleblower website was relatively fast and unpredicted. The organization announced its first leaks in 2006, but started receiving significant publicity in 2010 after disclosing ‘Collateral murder’, a video showing an American airstrike in Iraq that killed 12-18 people and wounded two children 1 . The video was followed by the publication of the Afghan War Diary, Iraq War Logs and the American diplomatic cables, all of which received wide media attention. Julian Assange, the founder and face of WikiLeaks, became a widely known media personality making regular public appearances defending his organization and the right for information against governmental and nongovernmental claims that condemned the actions of WikiLeaks.
Wikileaks describes itself as a promoter of free speech and transparency, both of which, according to the organization itself, help to create a better society. WikiLeaks claims to be a watchdog of democracy and compares itself to journalistic media, whose purpose is to reduce corruption and strengthen...