Last week I was invited down to Canberra to give the keynote speech at the Independent Scholars Association of Australia 2011 Conference. It was held at the National Library to an appreciative audience. The following are my notes:
– Quote from Julian Assange, The UnAuthorised Autobiography, p. 119/120 + 168
– What is modern journalism if not mostly collection of sanctioned leaks from the powerful to lazy media? Take the MSM media on any day, ABC, Fairfax or News Ltd, and see how much so-called news are rehashed press releases.
– Personal favourite lead ABC news radio story early in 2011: “Abbott says Gillard lying over carbon tax.”
– If this is the crisis in MSM, then hard to shed any tears.
– Wikileaks offers an alternative, a prospect for a different, more collaborative kind of media.
– Wikileaks; more leaks in 5 years than all corporate press combined over last 30 years.
– Brief history of Wikileaks from 2006.
– Response of Western governments to Wikileaks; criticism, defensive, hurt, aggressive, leading US politicians calling for Assange execution.
– PM Julia Gillard, late 2010 after Cablegate release, said Assange/Wikileaks had broken Australian laws but subsequent investigation found no laws had been broken.
– Real threat is embarrassment and insight into how our governments are a) craven towards Washington and b) increasingly finding new ways to restrict freedoms in the name of providing “security”.
– Wikileaks challenges insider culture/journalism and asks; why didn’t you get these stories?
– MSM narrative, pushed by Lowy Institute’s Michael Fullilove, was that Wikileaks released nothing new, this is how power works and it needs to be secret and important. International affairs framed as complicated. In reality, as Noam Chomsky says, it rarely rises above child’s play.
– Some Wikileaks revelations:- US spying on the UN;
- Israel/Egypt relationship over Gaza;
- US/Australia scuttling cluster bomb treaty;
- US firms colluding with repressive states to benefit US businesses such as Shell in Nigeria;
- Ongoing US efforts to undermine democratically elected Chavez in Venezuela; and
- Extreme closeness between the ALP and America
– Wikileaks provides opportunity for power to be more democratic. Lessening/removing unnecessary secrets in the public domain. We the public have responsibility to demand transparency. Can’t rely on mainstream media.
– Wikileaks-style spin-offs, such as Greenleaks.
– MSM either adapts or faces irrelevance. Secure drop-boxes of information essential but not the WSJ/Murdoch version (full of holes).
– MSM fearful of losing power and influence, enjoys being gate-keeper.
– Robert Fisk concern of Wikileaks (journalists will simply wait for stories to fall in their lap via the computer).
– What about politicians and bureaucracy? Wikileaks shows over-classification is rife.
– Rise of national security state, close to one million Americans have top-secret clearance. Wikileaks can and must challenge this.