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Using WikiLeaks As a Tool In Investigative Journalism

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the army-of-one dept.

The Media 39

Hugh Pickens writes writes "It took a team of ten reporters working two months to sift through 250,000 confidential American diplomatic cables at the NY Times, but when a story idea recently came up that I wanted to research in more detail, I found Wikileaks to be a very useful and accessible tool for further investigation. First, some background: For the past ten years I have written stories about Peace Corps safety and medical issues, the Peace Corps' budget appropriations, and the work done by volunteers in their countries of service on a web site I publish called 'Peace Corps Online.' When the Peace Corps announced last month they were taking the unusual step of suspending their program in Kazakhstan and withdrawing all 117 volunteers, I decided to dig deeper and find out what was behind the decision to leave the country. First I went to blogs of volunteers serving in Kazakhstan and found that four rapes or sexual assaults of volunteers had occurred in the past year and that it had became increasingly difficult for volunteers to conduct their work. But the biggest revelation was when I found fourteen U.S. diplomatic cables on Wikileaks that cited elements in the Kazakhstani 'pro-Russian old-guard at the Committee for National Security (the KNB, successor to the KGB) aimed at discrediting the Peace Corps and damaging bilateral relations' with the U.S. Further investigation on Wikileaks revealed how one Peace Corps volunteer had been sentenced to two years imprisonment in 2009 after 'what appeared to be a classic Soviet-style set-up.' The volunteer was only freed through the diplomatic efforts of U.S. Ambassador Richard Hoagland and the personal intervention of Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev."

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Really? That's Investigate Journalism? (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 2 years ago | (#38423186)

Well, no wonder news reporting is in such a sorry pathetic state these days.

How did you verify this information that you found on a third party site? How did you confirm that the U.S. diplomats were not trying to re-awaken old fears of the KGB by spreading misinformation in their communications? Did you find any evidence in these communications of the volunteers doing anything wrong? Did you contact the people the volunteers had worked with in Kazakhstan? Did you request a comment from the KNB?

Further investigation on Wikileaks revealed ...

No, that is wrong. That is not journalism. Nothing was revealed. You have a tip. Face it, you can't wake up, make a cup of coffee in your home and decide that today you're going to 'do' investigative journalism. Journalists are people who go out and acquire information, allegations, evidence, testimony, etc first hand. You could have started with Wikileaks as a tip, as a lead and put together your own external information from multiple sources. At best you have one side of an issue here and at worst you've been indirectly mislead. This shouldn't be called journalism. This should be called "googling."

I'm not saying you are wrong with this information, what I'm saying is that the NY Times wouldn't run this story unless they did due diligence to be completely sure they are 100% right because they are held to journalistic standards. As a blogger or armchair Wikileaks reader, you have nothing to lose by publishing this under your pseudo-name online. "Oh, maybe I'll try my hand at investigative journalism today." But let's face it, you get this wrong and you lose nothing. A journalist gets this wrong and they should lose their job and be blacklisted. And that's how news sources work.

Re:Really? That's Investigate Journalism? (1)

del_diablo (1747634) | more than 2 years ago | (#38423232)

If that truely is how the media works, then there would be a outcry against the writers and the editors each time a court case went in the opposite direction of what the newspapers wrote about.
I am quite sure I have read about the media preconvicted a lot of people, turning medias frontpages into smear campaigns.

Re:Really? That's Investigate Journalism? (1)

migla (1099771) | more than 2 years ago | (#38423310)

Just because any number of representatives of media are doing bad journalism, doesn't alter what journalism should be. And just because any number of representatives of media are doing bad journalism doesn't mean anyone should do bad journalism.

The state of things is quit dire, though, bad journalism being the norm. It all boils down to having an economic system in which greed is the core driving force and lying is the principal tool used.

Re:Really? That's Investigate Journalism? (4, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#38425084)

Just because any number of representatives of media are doing bad journalism, doesn't alter what journalism should be.

Should be doesn't necessarily define what journalism is.

As often happens on Slashdot, people on Slashdot are defining what it is based on what they think it should be.

The reality is, in its current state, 'journalism' covers a lot of things which doesn't necessarily live up to the level of rigor and independent verification which is being implied here. So, I completely fail to see how using Wikileaks to corroborate the stuff for your investigative journalism fails to be journalism.

Journalism sometimes takes the form of publishing someone's press release in the guise of an article or just taking a story off the wire and re-publishing it ... which, sadly, is similar to how the people who pass laws just put forth copy provided by the people paying for those laws.

Arbitrarily saying "one of these is real journalism and the other isn't" doesn't really serve any purpose as long as you don't hold the 'real' ones to any meaningful standard either. Unless you're holding the 'traditional' ones to account, what's the point in saying the others aren't really journalists either?

Re:Really? That's Investigate Journalism? (1)

WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) | more than 2 years ago | (#38432612)

Arbitrarily saying "one of these is real journalism and the other isn't" doesn't really serve any purpose as long as you don't hold the 'real' ones to any meaningful standard either. Unless you're holding the 'traditional' ones to account, what's the point in saying the others aren't really journalists either?

Ahhh, no.

That's like saying you're a scientist and have revealed truth without having complied with the dictates of the scientific method. You may be right, the same way a broken clock is right twice a day, but you're not doing science.

Both journalism and science are concerned with uncovering truth. That requires that falsity be systematically hunted down and excluded from the account to the greatest degree possible. The extent to which this achieved is the extent to which a scientist or journalist has credibility.

Both cultures have developed over the years accepted ways of uncovering truth. Defying this accumulated knowledge of how to challenge and verify information in favor of your own process makes you nothing but wrong. If you have another, better way to conduct science from your armchair, then bring it forth and let's have a look at it.

Ditto journalism. If you have developed a way to confirm your assertions using nothing but your keyboard and the internet, then bring it forward and let's see how well it really works.

Maybe you got at the heart of the matter, maybe Wikileaks contained all the truth and nothing but the truth. But your being right amounts to getting lucky.

If you wouldn't accept the deployment of science and technology into your life which was backed by nothing more than assurances that previously the inventors had gotten lucky, then you shouldn't accept "journalism" or call yourself a "journalist" if you're not going subject yourself to the rigorous methods journalists use to confirm reality.

Unless you work at FoxNews.

yes, it is. (4, Interesting)

nazsco (695026) | more than 2 years ago | (#38425944)

I worked for a pretty huge newspaper from 1999 to mid 2000's

Half of the guys called their contacts on the police PD, the other on the prefecture hall. And a few got cars and went to report on the occasional violent crime investigation.

But most of them just browsed the internet and watched TV news... and typed that rightly into the paper/online version.

Halfway of my time there, there was a new ombudsman (2yr as ombudsman criticizing the newspaper and listening to the public, 2yr back working regularly for the newspaper with no fear of being fired, then fired)

His first sunday op-ed column was a critic about exactly that. That the newsroom was always crowded. no one ever left it. there was no real journalism going on.

bonus history: one of the competing websites from another newspaper, outright copied our histories (which were type from TV most of the time anyway) and just time-stamped them a few minutes or hours earlier... sometimes creating timestamps of even before the reported event.

Re:Really? That's Investigate Journalism? (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 2 years ago | (#38423270)

I suspect majority of "old" news work in similar way. Remember Iraq war? "Embedded" journalists? Did they do all this checks that you mentioned?

Limited access to sources is very common in journalism, and you publish what you can telling people to take it with the grain of salt.

The only bad thing he did is presenting his own conclusions.

Forget about synthesis, it starts with analysis and ends with it.

No kidding (2)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 2 years ago | (#38423324)

And it could be even worse actually: They could be directly mislead. What if the information on Wikileaks is false? We have no real way of knowing how much of it is actually leaked US diplomatic cables. Could be all of it, however it also could be that someone put false information in there for their own reasons. It isn't as though the US went through and said "Yep, all these are legitimate, everything in here was originally a secret US communication."

I'm not saying that is what happened in this case, I'm saying particularly with a source like Wikileaks you have to understand that it COULD happen and thus for proper journalism you must assume that is the case, until you have proof it isn't. You have to operate from the position of skepticism always. That doesn't mean you dismiss shit, just that you refuse to believe it until you can prove it.

Otherwise, you risk not just doing something accidentally misleading, but outright being used. Someone can use you to spread misinformation simply by planting it in a place that you trust since you don't bother to verify.

You sound a little threatened (2)

arcite (661011) | more than 2 years ago | (#38423326)

I'm not saying you are wrong with this information, what I'm saying is that the NY Times wouldn't run this story unless they did due diligence to be completely sure they are 100% right because they are held to journalistic standards. As a blogger or armchair Wikileaks reader, you have nothing to lose by publishing this under your pseudo-name online. "Oh, maybe I'll try my hand at investigative journalism today." But let's face it, you get this wrong and you lose nothing. A journalist gets this wrong and they should lose their job and be blacklisted. And that's how news sources work.

Face it, Blogging, Twitter, even SMS have changed the foundation of journalism as we know it. It's now the people on the street who are witness to events and can record them with their cellphones and instantly upload them to the net - anonymously or not. The information moves so quickly around the world that many so called traditional journalists are left in the dust. So, you can stick with your old antiquated notions of what constitutes journalism (and many who do are part of an industry that is quickly going bankrupt), or you can get with the program and embrace the technology of the 21st century. For all the praise of NYtimes, they are run at a loss and are at the behest of the billionaire Carlos Slim. A civilian with a cellphone is now more objective than a journalist worried about their next paycheck.

You Sound a Little Idealistic (2)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 2 years ago | (#38423374)

Face it, Blogging, Twitter, even SMS have changed the foundation of journalism as we know it.

When was that ever up for debate? Of course it has! Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse! When 'news' spreads like wildfire across Twitter and it turns out to be correct, it was a great thing. You might be downplaying the other results though.

It's now the people on the street who are witness to events

When was it anybody else? These are the first hand accounts you must go out and find your self, not through Wikileaks through stolen U.S. documents.

and can record them with their cellphones and instantly upload them to the net - anonymously or not.

Record what? Where is Pickens presenting any recorded information here? Hell, I can't even find a sound bite from a Peace Corp volunteer that was raped. You give me video, that's hard to spoof and I might buy that if it's anonymous. In the future, video manipulation will be better and we'll lose the ability to tell if compressed cell phone footage is legit.

The information moves so quickly around the world that many so called traditional journalists are left in the dust. So, you can stick with your old antiquated notions of what constitutes journalism (and many who do are part of an industry that is quickly going bankrupt), or you can get with the program and embrace the technology of the 21st century.

Yeah, so here's the core of your disagreement with me. You think that I'm fighting the speed at which information and news flows. That's not true, I'm one of the highest submitters here on Slashdot. I love it, I want it to move as fast as possible. But all that motion and speed isn't worth a goddamn thing when you're spreading unverified information or lies. And that's what I'm calling out here.

For all the praise of NYtimes, they are run at a loss and are at the behest of the billionaire Carlos Slim. A civilian with a cellphone is now more objective than a journalist worried about their next paycheck.

Seriously? Are you serious? Did you know that "Hugh Pickens" used to be a member of the Peace Corps [peacecorpswiki.org] ? Did he disclose that potentially biased information in his article on his site that he linked to and calls "news"? Would that perhaps slant his views? I don't care if he has a cellphone. Other news sources are reporting allegations of espionage from the Peace Corp [eurasianet.org] . Oh, sure, that could just as well be the KNB at work and nowhere is Pickens saying that any of the hundreds of members of Peace Corp could have done anything wrong. But nobody's bothering to try to find this out. I like how you play the 'objectivity' card when it comes to money for journalists but you have got to be out of your goddamn mind if you think that this "news" is more objective than what the NY Times would publish on this piece. They would send reporters to Kazakhstan if they were going to run this piece and they would verify all their sources and you're saying that the motivation of money is why they are biased? Again I ask you, are you serious?

Re:You Sound a Little Idealistic (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 2 years ago | (#38423732)

"I don't care if he has a cellphone. Other news sources are reporting allegations of espionage from the Peace Corp."

Not a comment on your point or the rest of your post, but just out of intrigue, what the fuck kind of information could Kazakhstan actually have that's worth a Peace Corps member stealing?

Anything KNB Perhaps? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38423742)

"I don't care if he has a cellphone. Other news sources are reporting allegations of espionage from the Peace Corp."

Not a comment on your point or the rest of your post, but just out of intrigue, what the fuck kind of information could Kazakhstan actually have that's worth a Peace Corps member stealing?

Well, let's see, Pickens is reporting KNB activity in the area ...

Re:Anything KNB Perhaps? (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 2 years ago | (#38423746)

That would turn it into quite the mindfuck.

So a peace corps member has claimed he's been setup for espionage by the KNB who aren't meant to be in Kazakhstan, but really he was actually committing espionage stealing information about the KNB in Kazakhstan?

Re:Anything KNB Perhaps? (1)

Vitriol+Angst (458300) | more than 2 years ago | (#38436096)

The problem is, that the CIA often uses charity and peace corps operations -- they either embed or convince someone in their ranks to do their country "a favor."

Because of the abuse of the Peace Corps -- foreign nations are very suspicious of them in general. The "setup" is likely due to the KNB being convinced by some behavior that this member was working for the CIA and is frustrated -- so they are perhaps manufacturing the evidence -- as police are wont to do when they are convinced of someone's guilt.

It's entirely possible for this Peace Corps member to be working for the CIA, however, and Kazakhstan has strategic significance -- at least as some chew toy for India and Pakistan to pretend fight over so that they can keep their populations focused on an external threat.

>> Just remember, in the dance of nations; you are either a resource to be exploited, or a pretend enemy. The REAL enemy is your citizens. Once you understand that the CIA works to procure for Transnational corporations -- it starts to make sense.

Re:You Sound a Little Idealistic (1)

marnues (906739) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426476)

Kazakhstan, the second largest SSR in the former USSR, was the location of many nuclear weapons, military facilities, and space launches. Russia demanded as much back as possible, but certainly some things were "lost" in the shuffle.

Re:You Sound a Little Idealistic (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 2 years ago | (#38427068)

Agreed, but is there any reason they'd use the peace corps to commit espionage here, rather than professional spies?

Paranoid countries tend to be highly paranoid about NGOs, not least Russia itself, if you're going to spy on a paranoid country then an NGO is perhaps the least sensible place to stick your spy.

Re:You Sound a Little Idealistic (1)

gmanterry (1141623) | more than 2 years ago | (#38445418)

Unless the present administration wants to destroy the Peace Corps, spying is not an option. I spent 10 years in the Marine Corps. Later, I then wanted to join the Peace Corps. My friends were all sure that I was trying to get into the CIA. They said that the questions ask them for my background check were really deep and detailed. If you have ever been in military intelligence or the FBI you are not even eligible for Peace Corps service. I was accepted into the Peace Corps and I spent three years in the Ivory Coast, French West Africa. Even then the Peace Corps was paranoid about it's image. If one single Peace Corps Volunteer is ever caught spying, the reputation of the agency is destroyed and no country will accept volunteers. We were all encouraged to mingle with locals and to not get involved with the American Embassy people. It's all about image and independence. So if what the article implies were to happen I would destroy the Peace Corps.

Re:You sound a little threatened (4, Interesting)

Idimmu Xul (204345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38423424)

This lack of professionalism can cost people their job. Here's an article about a 9 year old 'wrongfully' suspended for saying a teacher was 'cute'.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/05/student-9-years-old-suspended-for-sexual-harassment_n_1129683.html [huffingtonpost.com]

Following the social and Internet outcry over such an obscene misjudgement by the Principal, here's the follow up piece where he was forced to retire over the situation.

http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/12/07/9277654-principal-forced-out-over-9-year-olds-sexual-harassment-suspension [msn.com]

And here's the real story, where the kid in question has a history of bad behaviour, including racism and the actual suspension was the consequence of a series of incidents, and the kid never used the word cute anyway as originally reported

http://www.wsoctv.com/download/2011/1205/29926822.pdf [wsoctv.com]

It's not about embracing technology, it's about all the pieces to the puzzle being reported, rather than skipping half the story and being less than truthful about the other half.

Rushing out 'facts' out of context is not good journalism, regardless of medium.

Re:You sound a little threatened (2)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#38423790)

Of course, but there's no such thing as perfect journalism. Reporting just one side of the story is wrong, so is giving equal time to flat-earthers and round-earthers, nobody is perfectly without bias and their own point of view, nobody knows for a fact that there's no more facts they should have had or maybe breaking the news is necessary to get attention to the case before you'll get the rest of the story. For example in the case you quote the school might very well have stonewalled citing student confidentiality leaving you with nothing but the suspended student's side of the story until you go public with it. What do you to then, drop it because there might be some other side of the story you haven't heard? If every journalist did that, you'd not see much news. You only get both sides of the story if both sides volunteer to tell it, often one side can't and often one side won't. If I can answer no comment and that means no story, most PR representatives would have their mouths superglued shut.

Re:You sound a little threatened (4, Informative)

Idimmu Xul (204345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38424000)

Generally if an actual journalist is forced to only give one side of the story due to stone walling they append to their article something along the lines of 'blah was approached for comments and has refused'.

You don't tend to see that on all the one sided, drama filled journoblogs, or in the wikileaks ;)

Re:You sound a little threatened (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38427160)

So there is controversy over whether this 9 year old boy called her "cute" or "fine", but does it matter? It's undisputed that the school suspended him for "sexual harassment" and had to apologize for that after the district lifted the suspension. They should have suspended him for his earlier racist remarks, not for this. And they should certainly not accuse a prepubescent child of sexual harassment because he made a harmless comment.

Re:You sound a little threatened (1)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 2 years ago | (#38429552)

And here's the real story, where the kid in question has a history of bad behaviour, including racism and the actual suspension was the consequence of a series of incidents, and the kid never used the word cute anyway as originally reported

He's African American, and he called other African American kids "niggers". I don't think that counts as being racist, just being a dick. He said, "she is fine" in a loud suggestive manner about a female staff member (according to a witness). Please note, I'm not defending his behavior, I just don't want it to appear a bigger deal than it really is. And you're right, I almost feel sorry for the Principal. By law, employers have to treat potential incidents of sexual harassment very seriously.

But then, the kid is nine years old!!! That's right, nine years old. If you want to suspend him, suspend him for being disrespectful, or insolent. Don't suspend him for "sexual harassment". And in a way, I'm glad the Principal retired too. There must be consequences for school official blindly enforcing zero tolerance policies. Now if you want to Cover Your Ass, you just can't rely on a zero tolerance policy anymore, and may be this incident will introduce some much needed sanity back into the system (one would hope).

Re:Really? That's Investigate Journalism? (2)

poity (465672) | more than 2 years ago | (#38423444)

Perhaps the oft-expressed "Occam's Razor" is as relevant here as it was in those stories whose uncorroborated evidence pointed to US misdeed (Stuxnet stories for example [slashdot.org] )? Between Russian interference as suggested by the evidence in this story, and an even more complex US misinformation campaign to damage Russia, which is the more likely? Or is Occam's Razor only relevant to stories whose evidence show the US in a bad light, and coincidentally breaks down for those whose evidence points to an adversary of the US?

Re:Really? That's Investigate Journalism? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#38423548)

While it does nothing against the possibility that the allegedly US cables are, in fact, forgeries by some third party, Kazakhstan seems like an odd place for the US to risk local relations in order to smear Russia(it's not as though there aren't plenty of other options, of varying degrees of truth, available). Our options for things like supply routes and airbases in the region are tepid to say the least and Kazakhstan is one of the countries we've been trying to butter up for that sort of access, along with their delicious petroleum.

It would seem extraordinarily stupid, even if one ignores any minor hindrances like 'ethics' or 'truth', to run an anti-Russia smear campaign at the expense of relations with a strategically located (and, so far, fairly cooperative in our 'perpetual war on terror' plans) country.

Re:Really? That's Investigate Journalism? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38427276)

Occam's Razor

Between Russian interference as suggested by the evidence in this story, and an even more complex US misinformation campaign to damage Russia, which is the more likely?

Between [conspiracy theory] and [theory about even bigger conspiracy to fabricate conspiracy theory], Occam's Razor suggests choosing the version that best suits the facts and involves the least conspiracy. In this case that would be that the Israeli military created Stuxnet (they say they did), with or without help from the US.

Or is Occam's Razor only relevant to stories whose evidence show the US in a bad light

How is involvement in Stuxnet "a bad light"? They should have made it harder to discover, but overall Stuxnet was quite a success.

Re:Really? That's Investigate Journalism? (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 2 years ago | (#38423700)

"Well, no wonder news reporting is in such a sorry pathetic state these days."

Let's not be too hard on the guy, at least he's trying. What he's done is still far better than what most journalists do nowadays, and that's just outright make shit up without even bothering with the whole investigative bit, citing quotes from their "source who wished to remain anonymous".

I'm not overly familiar with the NY Times, but even some of the UK's better publications like The Guardian have run the odd article that was based on far less evidence than this.

What you say is true of how journalism should work, but it's absolutely not true of how journalism does work. If anything's come out of the Leveson enquiry in the UK it's how much shit really is actually just outright fabricated by journalists, there was no worry of journalists being blacklisted and losing their jobs there.

Of course, you could say that perhaps it's just the UK media where things are this bad, but on the contrary, I think the reason this has come out about the UK media is precisely because there are at least a few journalists here still capable of investigative journalism that exposes this sort of shit. Certainly Murdoch's US media seems to be allowed to get away with even more FUD than it has over here for example.

News From the Hard Corners of the World. (2)

MYakus (1625537) | more than 2 years ago | (#38424372)

Getting information out of the hard corners of the world is difficult. Reporters would rather be trashing a civilized society than go some place where they could get killed! That's just the sorry fact of journalism. Look at the number of women reporters who were sexually assaulted in Egypt during the "Arab Spring". Now go somewhere the government really hates you (because you are a westerner, or worse yet - an American)!

Truth be told, he should have come with better sourcing; but the story does match up with some of the problems reported recently about sexual assaults from within the Peace Corps.

Re:Really? That's Investigate Journalism? (4, Interesting)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426238)

I'm not saying you are wrong with this information, what I'm saying is that the NY Times wouldn't run this story unless they did due diligence to be completely sure they are 100% right because they are held to journalistic standards. As a blogger or armchair Wikileaks reader, you have nothing to lose by publishing this under your pseudo-name online. "Oh, maybe I'll try my hand at investigative journalism today." But let's face it, you get this wrong and you lose nothing. A journalist gets this wrong and they should lose their job and be blacklisted. And that's how news sources work.

Just like the New York Times did their homework before running those stories saying that Iraq had WMDs... we all remember how well that one worked out, don't we? That's arguably the single biggest journalistic cock-up in the past twenty years. Judith Miller got too close to her White House sources and repeated their "evidence" without doing her homework and checking the facts. When we most needed the Times to be on top of things- to provide a objective check on the White House's arguments for invading Iraq- they ended up parroting the White House's propaganda and helped persuade the nation to send our army into the biggest military disaster since Vietnam.

As far as what this guy has done reporting on the situation in Kazakhstan, he's gone through Wikileaks and reported what diplomats are saying in these cables... how, precisely, does this differ from what the Times and other news information outlets were doing with the Wikileaks cables? Were they calling up and diplomats and saying, "excuse me, I'd like to fact check something... did you or did you not say that Russian prime minister Medvedev was 'Robin to Putin's Batman?'" As far as I know, they just read through the cables and reported what was written there.

Re:Really? That's Investigate Journalism? (1)

gambino21 (809810) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426246)

I'm not saying you are wrong with this information, what I'm saying is that the NY Times wouldn't run this story unless they did due diligence to be completely sure they are 100% right because they are held to journalistic standards.

I was agreeing with you up until this sentence. Unfortunately the NYT and most other mainstream media outlets do not follow good journalistic standards. Sure, there are a few good journalists who actually investigate, but the majority of the NYT is just regurgitated google combined with quotes from anonymous government sources.

Re:Really? That's Investigate Journalism? (2)

shiftless (410350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38427476)

So basically you're just pissed because he used the word "journalism" for what he did, in the same way that insecure engineers always have to chime in pointing out loudly for everyone to see that THIS person is NOT properly called an engineer because he doesn't satisfy requirements X, Y, or Z.

Obviously you consider yourself one hell of a journalist, or at least a "proper" one, or have close ties to this field, or you wouldn't have felt so moved to immediately explain in the first post how badly this news article sucks. Wait...what kind of journalist is so absorbed into reading slashdot that he would have time to write such a length, detailed slashdot first post?

I'm glad this article was posted. I found the summary interesting. That's what I read slashdot for--interesting summaries, sometimes articles, and always for the interesting comments. It's quite revealing how much some people reveal about themselves unintentionally.

New Icon (-1, Redundant)

cloakedpegasus (1761746) | more than 2 years ago | (#38423242)

I've never seen that mic icon before. Is it new? I like it.

Source, not tool (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38423274)

wikileaks was being used as a source, no different than a dude in a bar talking, or a written report. Another example of pretending "on the internet" means we have to pretend its all different.
An investigative journalism tool would be something like "google docs word processor" to be able to write anywhere you've got a working web browser, or using a recent gen ipod touch (only recent ones have a mic) as a portable, ubiquitous, semi-discrete audio recorder (professor will notice and complain if you haul in a 1970s reel to reel recorder, and not even blink if your "ipod" is laying on the desk in front of you during lecture)

The standard /. car analogy, is Autozone (a linux using company!) is a source, and an impact wrench is a tool. Not vice versa.

There is another semi-common use of the word tool, which seems to have no bearing on this discussion at all?

Funny.... (1)

vikingpower (768921) | more than 2 years ago | (#38423318)

that this comment, on /. Kazakhstan story ony days earlier, was modded "-1: Troll": on Kazakh practices with foreign nationals [slashdot.org] This story seems to provide an eerie confirmation....

Amazing what a feedback loop can achieve... (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 2 years ago | (#38423416)

Unfortunately the US government has ignored the founders intended feedback loop "For the People By the People" Obama has even claimed there is a deep flaw in the founder documents http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NW-e7z7S6VI [youtube.com] (i.e. Declaration of Independence [spirit and intent of all valid US law], U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights) though I haven't heard what it is he thinks is the flaw, I suspect the flaw is not the founder docs, but the recent and current government failure to fully understand and uphold the docs, as some of our representatives don't even know what the docs contain. Without proper feedback, they are lost and skerd shitless and why they are pursuing such things as the Patriot act, SOPA, NDAA, etc.. but none of these is going to provide them any sense of security. The FEMA Detention camps is the only place they can be located, to give them a sense of security.... for lack of a feedback loop.

The feedback loop, something all programmers must understand. Something that is required of learning and having a guided missile hits its target. This country cannot run on course as the founders intended while the feedback loop is broken, ignored.

It is amazing what progress and understanding can happen with valid and timely feedback..... As this slashdot article is about.

Re:Amazing what a feedback loop can achieve... (1)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 2 years ago | (#38423594)

Well, from what Obama says in the video. It appears to me it is an out of context quote that addresses the failure of the constitution to properly uphold that second sentence:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

After all, it wasn't until 1865, 89 years after those words were written that those rights were granted to non-whites and it wasn't until 1960's it got properly enforced.

The document does have 27 amendments and still counting.

Afucker (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38423540)

posts on Usenet are users of NetBSD Rivalry. W4ile won't be shouting EFNet, and apply only way to go: Yes, I work for

Era of Disinformation (1)

cavreader (1903280) | more than 2 years ago | (#38424108)

The Internet is the perfect system for spreading disinformation and lies. Opinions become facts and conspiracy theories replace reality. A well meaning person can setup a website discussion board that does nothing but turn into an echo chamber for those already who have already made up their mind about what is fact and their contributions just reinforce their beliefs with congratulating each other on their insight and forthrightness. A relatively normal person can setup and operate multiple sites that while appearing unrelated are really working together to support the same information. A National security service with resources to burn can take this same basic idea and shape the information they want everyone to see. Just include a few real and verifiable facts amongst all the other blatant and unsupported lies and you are off and running. In the past "Yellow Journalism" was used to manage information presented to the public but it became so obvious that the effectiveness degraded and other methods needed to be found. Hard copy books (such as history books) were required to be sourced and the publishers needed to fact check the content of the book before publication or they could face losing money if it was discovered they were were publishing out right lies and presenting them as facts. Besides a publishers reputation being harmed it also cost a substantial amount of money to publish and distribute hard copy books. Sure things slipped through now and then but the fact is the information was subjected to a verification process before it went to the printers. Newspapers have to be especially careful when publishing information as factual and when caught regularly publish retractions. That is why today's newspapers are weak on facts and tend to publish most of thier information as "opinions" and those "opinions" usually adhere to the paper's editorial lines that support a certain viewpoint or political ideology. Thus we end up with liberal and conservative slanted news services that use opinions instead of facts. After a while the regular audience can't tell the difference between a fact or opinion. It's been theorized that the next world war will use religion as it's catalyst (while obscuring the real reason which is power and money) but it is the Internet and it's ability to manipulate and spread information rapidly that will be the real driving force. We now have generations of people who have never had to live without access to the Internet and believe everything they see is true if it supports their own personal preferences which have themselves been created by what they see on the Internet. Selective filtering of facts, using and interpreting facts out of historical context, and the use of anecdotal evidence is what will ultimately cause the next world war and when it is over and civilization re-gains the ability to generate electricity and re-invent computer technology I hope we do it better the 2nd time but we probably won't but at least I will not be around to worry about it.

Re:Era of Disinformation (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38428670)

A well meaning person can setup a website discussion board that does nothing but turn into an echo chamber for those already who have already made up their mind about what is fact and their contributions just reinforce their beliefs with congratulating each other on their insight and forthrightness.

This is a very good point you made and I fully agree.. I'll tweet it out so others in my group can see it.

Rape or sexual assault (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38424826)

Which was it? There's a big difference there. Rape is rape, but sexual assault can be something as minor as someone grabbing your leg.

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