“A real journalist is one who understands, at a cellular level, and doesn’t shy away from, the adversarial relationship between government and press.”
That’s what the New York Times’ Public Editor Margaret Sullivan has suggested yesterday when commenting on almost an avalanche of more or less disparaging claims and, well, smears as regards “blogger” and “columnist” Glenn Greenwald, the intermediary who provided The Guardian United States with Edward Snowden’s leaks of the apparent American surveillance state.
This is of course not a definition but a very broad description, and tenuous position. The main issue here is, now more than ever, whether and when someone who makes leaks public may be legally protected by law when having promised confidentiality to his or her sources. Does one need to be employed by a magazine (“journal”) to become a journalist? Has someone even to join the mainstream media (MSM)? Of course not. Interestingly, the somewhat broader German term “Publizist” (uncommon “publicist”) would fit better since it implies more or less independence in writing. But who is it who then publicizes the stuff? Was it protection by the honorable Guardian what Greenwald sought in the first place?
Greenwald had left the small news website Salon.com, where he was “blogging” since 2007, only in August last year. Some had then serious concerns that his fearless and razor-sharp postings on civil liberty would inevitably be tempered by The Guardian’s editors. Why did he move on to MSM? What did The Guardian expect from his rants? As Greenwald had twittered earlier this month, he was contacted by Edward Snowden only a couple of months later, at least in February 2013, when Snowden was still in Hawaii.
So, one might assume that, between February and June, both had effectively teamed up. Questions about Greenwald’s part in Snowden’s leaks (as brazenly asked by NBC’s David Gregory in Meet the Press last week) may thus be justified. But Greenwald’s aspiration to get the scoop might put the whole noble enterprise at risk. As do pretty bizarre involvements of Julian Assange and Wikileaks and the Ecuadorian embassies. It might end up as a charade. And, as MSM continue their reporting on kraken-like NSA, Snowden’s fate is completely uncertain.
See Greenwald’s speech delivered yesterday, via skype, to the Socialism 2013 Conference in Chicago.
30 June 2013 @ 9:42 am.
Last modified June 30, 2013.