Doing Good Work: Journalism

People need accurate information to make the right decisions, but the information people get from the news media does not greatly improve their decision-making abilities. We need to come together to create a robust, accurate, and trustworthy news pipeline. Fortunately there are thousands of journalists and whistleblowers interested in carving out a niche of accurate information for the general public.

Glenn Greenwald, Chris Hedges, Naomi Klein, Cenk Uygur, and Matt Taibbi work for the public interest. Chris Hayes, Bill O’Reilly, Jake Tapper, and their peers work for capitalists, and corporate capitalism in general. I am the former’s client. I am the latter’s target, or mark.     

Sensationalism and a lack of complex analysis in the news leads people to distrust the big sources. Big news is entertainment. To be profitable is to keep consumer’s eyes and ears on new stories. Unfortunately, the general public wants underboob, confirmed beliefs, and crisis coverage. The media gives the public what it wants, and that is not an accurate and sufficiently complex picture of current events. Noam Chomsky argues that the most accurate media is the business newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times provide the most accurate news because their clients, capitalists, need accurate information to make money.

The superficiality of big media is on a collision course with reality. The pro-business, growth-paradigm, power-subservient creature that publishes the news is currently operating unchanged in a world that already unmasked neoliberalism, the climate crisis, and American oligarchy. The faces on the news talk about the NY Stock Exchange while scientists declare the modern period as a time of mass extinction and release studies predicting social collapse unless we take immediate action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution. The American media talk about American exceptionalism as the American people are hit by a deluge of leaks and social media videos of American weapons being used on civilians. Truth is made in the dark.

Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning are heroes of the movement to force transparency on government. They saw evidence that the American government violated international law and so they took the data to share it with the public. Their leaks revealed evidence of American war crimes and an unimaginably extensive surveillance system illegally collecting the private data of citizens and foreign nationals.

Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden

Manning was sentenced to 35 years in jail in 2013. Her conviction under the Espionage Act came after having spent three years, often in extended solitary confinement, awaiting trial. President Obama commuted Manning’s sentence soon before leaving office. If all goes to plan she will leave jail in May 2017. Manning wrote several columns for The Guardian while confined, and she opened a Twitter account (@xychelsea) in 2015 by dictating the tweets to a media agency.

Snowden gained asylum in Russia before American authorities were able to catch him. He sent his data-trove to Glenn Greenwald, a former lawyer now investigative journalist, media entrepreneur, and nemesis of corrupt, lazy journalists everywhere. Greenwald and Snowden communicated anonymously. The leaked data was mined by teams of journalists and was only leaked if it was in the public interest. Personal data with no value to the public would not be published. Manning leaked to Wikileaks, whose platform publishes authenticated, uncensored documents on mass. This has led to privacy issues where they have published people’s Social Security and credit card numbers.

Snowden has leveraged his freedom to spread a message of digital security through speaking engagements, interviews, and technical knowledge. He is on the board of the Freedom of the Press Foundation. The Foundation make secure communications tools specifically for journalists and their sources. Their best-known product is Signal, a message and call encryption app. Snowden also regularly defends press freedom on the news and inserts knowledge and snark into his social commentary. In 2016 he debunked a Trump theory in a tweet. Trump claimed that it would have been impossible for the FBI to search through hundreds-of-thousands of emails in a week.

Comment about other organizations working on press freedom? What issues are important to you? What would you like to read about? Thanks for reading. Please come back.

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