The following is a proposal for what this blog will discuss in further entries throughout the coming weeks, feel free to contribute ideas or feedback.
A newsworthy topic that will be covered in the proposed blog shall be the whistle blower organization; WikiLeaks, as well as its co-founder Julian Assange. The blog will cover both the activities of the organization and Assange’s extradition case. The blog will be entitled ‘Citizen Erased’.
This topic was selected firstly because of its prominence within the media, and also because it has continued to be an important issue since 2010. It can be considered newsworthy, as the activities of WikiLeaks are highly controversial, for they expose secretive and often shocking information, that can be argued are extremely important for the general public to know. Furthermore, the extradition of Julian Assange and the negative representation of him within western media, as well as America’s very public desire to execute him, shed an important light on the concepts of free speech, freedom of information and justice in modern society. Furthermore, the work of WikiLeaks and Assange also question the involvement and role of western countries in regards to war & conflict in Middle Eastern countries. The news values that are relevant in regards to this topic, as coined by Johan Galtung & Mari Ruge (1965) include firstly continuity, as this has remained a main story within the media since 2010, and new developments occur almost daily. Also, the topic can be considered as referring mostly to an elite nation, as much of the issue deals with the public desire of America to shut down WikiLeaks and detain Assange, and as America is a considerable global power, it is more likely to become a main story. This topic also incorporates the value of elite people, as Julian Assange has gained an infamous reputation due to the negative coverage by western media, and therefore the amount of negative coverage Assange receives from elite nations turns him into an infamous elite person. The target audience of this topic will likely include mostly citizens from westernized countries, with at least some kind of tertiary education, and left wing views.
There will be a range of questions explored in the covering of this topic, including, ‘Should the infamous WikiLeaks video, Collateral Murder, have been released to the public?’, ‘Should Bradley Manning, the solider accused of releasing classified documents to WikiLeaks, be given a harsh sentence?’, ‘Do you believe what Julian Assange and what WikiLeaks are doing is helpful or damaging?’ and also, ‘Do you believe Julian Assange should have been granted political asylum by Ecuador, or does he deserve to pay for his “crimes”? ‘Are we simply shooting the messenger and not dealing with the real problems this issue brings?’ These questions will be important to the readers engaged with the topic covered in this blog because firstly they raise even further, and larger questions that are important to the majority of people within society, such as, ‘Is the concept of free speech being lost in modern society, being taken over by privacy and secrecy? Does free speech, particularly in Australia; need to be given more concern? Or, does free speech, as well as the freedom of information, threaten and endanger society, and should they be restricted and rethought? This topic also brings into question the power and potential manipulation of media by western nations, as well as the involvement of western nations in wars that arguably aren’t their own to fight, and how much citizens don’t know that goes on behind closed doors.
The main readers of the blog will include, as stated above, citizens in western and industrialized nations that have access to this news, for if they live in these countries then they are likely know a fair amount or at least have heard about it due to the topic’s domination in the media, due to the western media’s constant and negative coverage of WikiLeaks and Assange. Furthermore, it is likely the main readers will have a higher education or tertiary education, for it is an issue involving debates about further questions such as free speech, freedom of information, western nations power and war & conflict. Also, it is likely that these viewers will be left wing, as it is often more likely that people who align themselves with this viewpoint are more likely to support these extreme concepts, such as WikiLeaks and Assange, than right wing viewers. They would be interested in following this blog because it will analyze the issue deeper than what is briefly reported in the media, and discuss the more important questions behind the controversy, and aim to achieve a more in depth and balanced understanding of the issue as a whole. This blog aims to inform readers on the issue who think they already know everything by undergoing extensive research, and incorporating elements often unseen in the media such as background information, features on key people or events that aren’t often given coverage, interviews and opinions from a variety of sources including both academics or everyday citizens, examination of the various documents released by WikiLeaks, as well as a forum to discuss the questions raised.
In order to attract readers, the blog will be packaged in an online format, available on the user friendly website WordPress. Also, the posts will be posted to further social media sites as to allow for a greater coverage and audience; these sites will include Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. Furthermore, a Twitter feed associated with the topic will be created to coincide with the blog, tweeting and retweeting relevant news updates on regards to the issue. A Twitter app will also be installed within the WordPress website so that both can also be viewed simultaneously. This format will also provide interactivity between the users to post and share their own thoughts on the topic also.
Individuals that have been approached so far in relation to ideas and reactions include at this stage only friends, and also conducted was a quick sampling of individuals at the university campus asking simply if they had heard of WikiLeaks and Assange, and whether or not they had an opinion on it, as to determine whether or not this topic can be evaluated as newsworthy. Materials that have been referred to so far include both old and new media, including the television, newspapers, and the Internet. Research that has been undertaken already includes the viewing of the documentary Wikileaks War Lies And Videotape. Also, writings by Australian journalist, John Pilger, a well-known supporter of Assange, were analyzed, including his interview with Assange in his film The War That You Don’t See. A comparison between how the news in America and Australia report on the issue of WikiLeaks was also conducted, and finally a number of episodes of Julian Assange’s own television show, The World Tomorrow, were viewed.
Individuals that will be potentially approached in the future for ideas and reactions will firstly include lecturers at the University of Wollongong, possibly including Communication & Media as well as Politics lecturers, and these interviews will most likely be conducted face to face. Furthermore, attempts will be made to get into contact with individuals who work with Assange who may be slightly more accessible, such as a member from Assange’s legal team, for example Jennifer Robinson and this will most likely be done by using Twitter or email. Also, attempts to contact various government ministers or a member for parliament or a senator for comment will be made and this will also be done using email. A member from the Australian political activist group Get Up! may also be contacted if possible. If these attempts fail, then students with knowledge of the issue will be questioned each week on a related question to the topic. Further research that will be undertaken includes the viewing of other documentaries that may be guided by a different angle than the previous documentary already viewed. Julian Assange’s own show The World Tomorrow shall also continue to be viewed as new episodes are aired, and a continual analysis of the reporting of the topic by different networks within Australia, US, UK and possibly Sweden shall also be addressed. Specific television shows shall also be examined, such as Q&A, to get opinions from politicians, and important public figures, and in return this will discover what is important to the Australian public with regards to the topic in the questions they ask these figures. Books and journal articles shall also be researched in order to see if there have been any academic writings already on this topic that will be useful to gain further insight.