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Julian Assange unleashed a revolution in journalism

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Through WikiLeaks, Julian Assange sought to expose injustice globally and publish the truth at any cost (Image by Dan Jensen)

Despite criticisms, the work done by Julian Assange in exposing the truth cements his status as one of the most important journalists of our time, writes Dr John Jiggens.

ACCORDING TO Dr Suelette Dreyfus, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was the most original voice in 21st-Century journalism. She justified this claim by referencing the invention of the anonymous digital drop box that WikiLeaks and Assange pioneered, which allowed whistleblowers to transfer information to the public while preserving their anonymity.

This invention was widely imitated by copycats like The New York Times and the ABC, who never defended Assange or his journalism, and treated his outrageous persecution as the normal outcome of a justice system.

The Walkley Award to WikiLeaks in 2011 for ‘outstanding contribution to journalism’ cited the invention of the digital drop box.

The judges said:

This innovation could just as easily have been developed and nurtured by any of the world’s major publishers but it wasn’t.

 

Yet so many eagerly took advantage of the secret cables to create more scoops in a year than most journalists could imagine in a lifetime.

As well as the digital drop box, WikiLeaks pioneered analysing large data sets in a collaborative way with the massive Cablegate files, working with a global coalition that included 89 major publications including The New York Times, The Guardian, Le Monde and La Republica.

Yet while this famous Australian journalist is being tortured to death, slowly crucified by the governments of the UK and the U.S., facing the ludicrously vengeful punishment of 175 years in prison when he is extradited to the U.S., there is no outcry of support from our media. For over a decade — zero support.

Instead, he is subjected to ludicrous insults like the ridiculous claim that he is not really a journalist.

Julian Assange has won 24 major awards for journalism and social activism, receiving glowing endorsements from the most prominent journalists in the world.

Assange restored to journalism its noblest ideal, an ideal that has been increasingly perverted and debased by the corporate media in their quest for power: the idea of journalists as a Fourth Estate.

In the 18th Century, the English Government was based on three estates: the clergy, the House of Lords and the House of Commons.

The idea of journalists as a Fourth Estate, serving as a public watchdog and informing the citizenry about their government, emerged in the revolutionary era during the transition from monarchy to democracy when journalists like Thomas Paine inspired the American Revolution, urging the 13 colonies to break away from the British Empire and govern themselves.

The legacy of these courageous journalists was the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees the right to free speech and a free press, a guarantee that is under its greatest attack with the persecution of Julian Assange, who is being brutally punished for the crime of journalism.

The Walkley Award panel acknowledged Assange’s extraordinary achievement in public interest journalism, unleashing what they described as ‘an avalanche of inconvenient truths in a global publishing coup’.

The Award read:

This year’s winner has shown a courageous and controversial commitment to the finest traditions of journalism: justice through transparency.

 

WikiLeaks applied new technology to penetrate the inner workings of government to reveal an avalanche of inconvenient truths in a global publishing coup.

 

Its revelations, from the way the war on terror was being waged, to diplomatic bastardry, high-level horse-trading and the interference in the domestic af airs of nations, have had an undeniable impact.

The corporate media avoid condemning Assange’s persecution partly through jealously, but largely because of their anger at being revealed to be corrupt warmongers, who are serially dishonest and massively compromised.

In the centuries that separate us from Thomas Paine and the American Revolution, journalism became dominated by giant corporations and family dynasties like the Packers and the Murdochs.

These press barons misused their media power to spin the news to become powerful political actors, boosters of their chosen politicians and policies. What matters for the corporate journalists they employ was not truth but the narrative the corporate agenda demands.

The Murdoch Press has become the most powerful political party in Australia, according to former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Another former Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, described it as a cancer eating the heart of Australian democracy. Murdoch’s empire has a near monopoly in Queensland, controlling not just the Courier Mail, but every newspaper in regional Queensland.

The First World War further deformed corporate journalism, as the state harvested the propaganda power of the corporate media to convince young men everywhere to slaughter each other on an industrial scale.

Journalists of this era were christened the “stenographers of power” who reported the dictates of the war boosters and the war makers unquestioningly.

The Second World War intensified this marriage between the deep state and the corporate media. When Britain’s ally against Hitler’s Germany was Stalin’s Soviet Union, the British press lauded Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin and christened him Uncle Joe. Alarmed by the valorisation of Stalin, one conservative confronted Churchill.

“Don’t worry,” Churchill replied: “We can turn it on and off like a tap.”

And they did. Uncle Joe became the new Hitler, then Chairman Mao, Uncle Ho, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, Colonel Gaddafi and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad as the endless wars rolled on.

In 2003, every newspaper in Australia campaigned for the Iraq War, a crime of military aggression against a sovereign nation, which constitutes the ultimate war crime. Their embedded reporters reported the war from the perspective of the U.S. military, until WikiLeaks revealed their lies with the Collateral Murder video and the Iraq war logs. These revelations made WikiLeaks famous and made Assange the target of the Five Eyes.

Over the past year, our media has recklessly campaigned for a war with China. According to the China hawks, 2027 is the year pencilled in for this war. This flock of vultures circle our planet, raucously squawking Orwell’s famous paradox that war is peace.

In 2006, Julian Assange unleashed his revolution in journalism by adopting the Fourth Estate ideal of journalism that the mainstream media had abandoned. Instead of causing wars, WikiLeaks stopped them.

The persecution of Julian Assange shows the extraordinary propaganda power of the Five Eyes. For exposing their crimes, Assange, a hero of truth, was transformed into the most dangerous man in the world, his hideous persecution – openly, lawfully – sending its Dalek command to journalists everywhere to obey or be exterminated!

Dr John Jiggens is a writer and journalist currently working in the community newsroom at Bay-FM in Byron Bay.

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