From Our Team

Gimme Shelter - Wikileaks and the New Shield Laws

Submitted by JLo on Tue, 2010-11-23

In concurrent developments, Australia and the United States have been drafting new federal legislation to ensure that journalists have legal rights to protect them from revealing the identities of their sources. It is precisely this kind of legislation that separates open democratic states from the tyrannical regimes that frequently top worst-offender lists on press freedom advocacy websites. Its importance cannot be understated. Yet many quite rightly point out that even in open societies where a ‘free’ press operates, journalists who refuse to disclose sources are faced with serious reprisals by the courts.

Prior to 2010, Australia’s jurisprudence on shield laws was negligible. One infamous example was the case of Gerard McManus and Michael Harvey, reporters for Melbourne’s Herald Sun, who were fined $7000 each and convicted of contempt of court after pleading guilty to not disclosing their government source on a story about war veteran entitlements.

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Why Do I Think Wikileaks Is Important?

Submitted by x7o on Wed, 2010-11-17

Wanting once to escape from a world where curiosity was no virtue, I made a circuitous approach to philosophy and higher learning. It was only gradually clear to me what universities were for. It seems I come late to most things in life. As late as my early 20s I felt as if my choices were informed by a body of knowledge constrained at its edges not only by my own ignorance, but by ignorance of the true extent of that ignorance. Understanding, for me, requires a grasp of the global to inform the local. The global was inadequately catered for in my education, as they prepared me for being useful to my economy. I wonder now what sort of awareness it was that I had then.

Intuitively then I knew that newspapers and television were no source of knowledge, and that neither was the conventional wisdom that informed all our guesses as to the nature of things the other side of the planet. I could speak on nothing with confidence, because it felt as if all that I knew was derived from hearsay and speculation, though it came from Organs of Truth that sufficed for most. Comfortable truths were never very comfortable for me, and sometimes I hated the casualness with which others repeated them, the cause for their ubiquity. It seemed like a conspiracy of wretchedness in which we all got to play a part.

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Wikileaks and the Australian Media

Submitted by Wolf on Mon, 2010-11-15

"The basis of democracy is freedom of speech" - Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung Sun Suu Ki, upon release from 15 years of house arrest.

A few weeks ago I shrugged off Saturday night plans to meet up with a couple other local media geeks and techheads.

Earlier that day Wikileaks had published 391,832 leaked U.S. military documents, detailing the deaths of 109'032 people during the Iraq War.

At around 7:50pm the television at our present location was quickly deemed undersized for the magnitude of Wikileaks' live press conference; and so we embarked on a last minute dash on foot to our tech geek's home, seeking out her uber-sized plasma screen TV that was deemed appropriately large enough to pay homage to the event.

8pm came and went. ABC4 appeared to be playing a repeat of the prior week's QANDA episode.

This was cause for collective concern. The largest leak of military documents in history and we couldn't find the frigging press conference on television - why wasn't the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) broadcasting it live?

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