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Mainstream Media are dead

Update 1 (30 September 2011): following essay has been corrected and changed several times in minor ways to better reflect reality or for purposes of better form (typos, pushed cartoon to the top, etc.)

The death of our old mainstream media
Of course, the following statements have nothing to do with journalism. Least with ‹professional› or even scientific journalism. They do not only misrepresent the truth in one way or the other, they are partially outright lies. There was not even a basic factcheck of most of those papers it seems, just copying their fellow journals… Can you detect the errors in the following quotes?

by Roger Le Marié

«Tu quoque, fili mi?» «You too, my son?»
(Cesar to Brutus seconds before Cesar was murdered)

«A security breach has led to the WikiLeaks archive of 251'000 secret US diplomatic cables being made available online, without redaction to protect sources.»
The Guardian

«WikiLeaks: Breach Has Exposed U.S. Cables»
«It has long been known that WikiLeaks lost control of the cables even before they were published.»

«WikiLeaks Springs a Leak: Full Database of Diplomatic Cables Appears Online»
«This is not the first time that WikiLeaks has lost control of its database of cables. Last year, as the organization and its media partners were beginning preparations to publish stories related to the cables, a WikiLeaks member gave the database to a freelance reporter, Heather Brooke.»

«Wikileaks Accidentally Released Dangerous Unredacted Cables»
«Wikileaks founder and accused rapist Julian Assange has long maintained a ‹trust me› attitude about his data security. However, if today's reports are correct, people very well may die due to his carelessness.»

«It has long been known that WikiLeaks lost control of the cables even before they were published. One copy of the secret documents leaked to The New York Times in the fall of 2010, and other media organizations, including The Associated Press, have since received copies independently of the self-proclaimed online whistleblower.»

«Unredacted cables on Net after WikiLeaks breach»
– cnet

«It has long been known that WikiLeaks lost control of the raw cables even before they were published. One copy of the secret documents leaked to The New York Times in the fall of 2010, and other media organizations, including The Associated Press, have since received copies independently of WikiLeaks.»

«WikiLeaks Released Thousands of Unredacted Cables»
Daily Intel

«‹It’s all about trust, and if people cannot trust the institutions they are leaking to the idea is dead,› he said. ‹If the leaking platform is itself susceptible to leaks that is practically a killer.›»
New York Times

The above quotes sadly illustrate the catastrophic shape of much of our old mainstream media. They prove what we suspected for a long time already: our old mainstream media are dead. What we see here is not journalism much less ‹scientific journalism›. Instead of focussing on the really important things and news they continue dirty smearing and scream about less important sidetracks.

This cell phone photo was shot by a resident of Ishaqi on
March 15, 2006, of bodies Iraqi police said were 
of children executed by
U.S. troops after a night raid there. 
Here, the bodies of the five children are
in blankets and laid in a pickup bed to be taken for burial. A State
Department cable obtained by WikiLeaks
quotes the U.N. investigator of
extrajudicial killings as saying 
an autopsy showed the residents of the
house had 
been handcuffed and shot in the head, including children under
the age of 5. McClatchy obtained the photo from 
a resident when the
incident occurred.
Read more about the story here.

But why would they write such unreflected rubbish? Even well known newspapers like The Guardian, The Huffington Post or Wired join in to that fairytale saga… The answer is simple: fear. Fear of Wikileaks. Of Wikileaks' perfectly working concept. While most of the printed newspapers struggle to survive, Wikileaks delivers top sustainable information, knowledge and news. For free nota bene. And not only survives but strives, handling several ongoing law suits while continuing to rock the headlines of the worlds most renowned journals.
It's pure jaleousy in the face of extinction. Extinction of the news world and our 'old mainstream media' as we knew them. Welcome to the world of new media.
Having this said let's put some facts in more proportionate perspective shall we:

Who lost control of the cables?
The answer lies in the question: who do the cables belong to? Who generated them and who controlled them and who prevented them from being disseminated in public? This simple question clears the view on the truth in an amazing way. Truth being defined as ‹the tenthousand things as they are› (in contrast to single perspectives on the truth). So, it was not Wikileaks that lost control of the cables in the first place, it was the American government. They not only failed to protect their data and the individuals mentioned in that data but also to control the procedures of handling this data in secret. Wikileaks in contrary did want to publish the cables from the beginning on.
What is true however is, that Wikileaks wanted to publish the cables in a responsible way without endangering innocent individuals that were dragged into that matter without good reason. But Wikileaks also clearly stated that it did intend to reveal the names of persons that are in the public interest or of persons or groups that acted in a clearly illegal or reckless way (Wikileaks in a tweet clearly condemned what it called ‹cable cooking›). In that regard Wikileaks would have prefered the publishing of only the redacted cables. But if forced to choose between a nonredacted publication and no publication at all Wikileaks might have chosen the publication of the non redacted cables, who knows?

How does David Leigh know? It is highly improbable that this is true as the 
file was hours before floating around the internet and Cryptome.org had published 
the file z.gpg as well as the password for everybody to see.

Did Wikileaks ‹accidentally› release ‹dangerous› unredacted cables?
Wikileaks just did what reason dictates in such a situation: the unredacted cables suddenly began to spread wildly and widely in the internet. So it was nothing but common sense to publish them for all to download and review instead of having them controlled by just some hundred unknown individuals first. So the publication was by no means ‹accidental› but well considered and even democratically voted for. It can be suggested that they were also not very dangerous for any individuals anymore as the concerned have been warned long ago by the American government. In the end only history will show. Until now nobody has proven hurt or even killed by the sole fact of the publication of the cables. This stands in very sharp contrast to 40'000 100'000 civilian (!) dead in the iraq war.

The unredacted cables were published in public long before
Wikileaks decided to do it. For example here on PirateBay
on the 6th of February 2011.

Or here on Cryptome with all the explanations you needed on 
first September 2011, quite a few days before Wikileaks 
released them themselves!

Did Wikileaks knowingly publish the unredacted cables file z.gpg in question?
No. They gave this file to one or several media partners of theirs. Some of those media ‹partners› further disseminated that file against the will of Wikileaks and also in betrayal of the trust that Wikileaks put in them. The Guardianistas for example gave the complete unredacted cable file to the New York Times.
And another person had the unredacted cable file it seems: Daniel Domscheit-Berg who left WikiLeaks taking the contents of the WikiLeaks server with them, which included the encrypted file. In December a part of the data Domscheit-Berg had taken with him was returned to Wikileaks. The journal Wired explains: «Wikileaks supporters subsequently released an archive of the data that Domscheit-Berg had returned, as a public service to provide readers with access to everything WikiLeaks had previously published. But among the documents was the encrypted file containing the cables.»
It seems for safety reasons usually the unredacted cable file was copied and encrypted with a new password. That way each of the media partners had only one password different from the password of the original file and all other media's passwords. If that file or the password would appear in public, Wikileaks would know which organisation leaked the file. Now the one minor thing that can be reproached to Wikileaks is that Julian Assange gave the Guardian access to the original file encrypted with the original password. However in itself this is no problem yet. As long as only one organisation has this file and Wikileaks were able to proove that its own file was never leaked or disseminated it still is obvious which media partner leaked the file. If Wikileaks can proove that its own file was never spread then the organisation responsible for the publication of the z.gpg file is The Guardian. But as the Guardian at this point of time had already given that original file to others it was already out there and it is probably impossible to prove through who the file was publicly published in the end, WikiLeaks, the Guardian, the New York Times or even another entity like for example journalist Heather Brooks who gave a second copy (with the same password?) of the file to the Guardian.

Is Wikileaks responsable for the publication of the password of the public z.gpg file?
As far as I know Wikileaks has never published any password for any encrypted files publicly. Rumors have it that Julian Assange gave the password to David Leigh of the Guardian one day as one of their media partners. Fact is however, that David Leigh and Luke Harding published the password in question: «ACollectionOfDiplomaticHistorySince_1966_ToThe_PresentDay#» together with the subheading «Assange's 58-character password» in their book «Wikileaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy» not only in the body text, no, but as a chapter heading in full effect. Here is a copy of the page I'm talking about:

Excerpt of the book «Wikileaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy»,
page 135.

In the follow up David Leigh and the Guardian justified themselves: «In a statement included in its news story on the documents' release, the Guardian denied that any information included in the book led to the documents' release.» (cnet) Well, maybe not to the ‹documents' release› but to the release of its decryption key which is even more harmful! Doesn't the misleading wordplay of the above statement resemble a helpless lie of an 8 year old boy justifying an unreflected, stupid prank? Except you would take David Leigh for a grown up. Well, ‹grown up› doesn't necessarily have to be the same as ‹mature› as we all know.
«Another Guardian journalist (Luke Harding) — who once worked for WikiLeaks — said that Assange was to blame, alleging that the 40-year-old Australian had recycled an old password when he republished the encrypted data later.» (DailyMail) Mmh. Maybe ‹recycling› an old password is not best practice but it has by far not the same consequences as publishing that password openly in a book while describing it as such. And if you say Assange «republished the encrypted data later» do you mean by that Mr. Assange himself published not for the first time the complete file with the unredacted cables openly in the internet for everybody to see or download before you (the Guardian) gave the encrypted file plus password to the New York Times and others? Do you have proof for that claim? Or is it what it looks like: Just a plain stupid remark without any proof whatsoever. So what kind of comment is that, Mr. Harding? A little bit like an 8 year old boy justifying an unreflected, stupid prank, isn't it?
But Julian Assange hits the nail on its head in a tweet on the Wikileaks account:
Something pretty obvious for everybody that handles top secret files (like big media outlets you would suggest ;) no?

Welcome to the death of our old mainstream media
Quite conscious of probably feeding the trolls, let me express my concerns in form of some questions to the old mainstream media: Are you really convinced that a product – however cheap it is produced, however speedy it is produced, however shiny it looks and thick it presents itself – is worth anything if it is empty of (relevant) content? Do you really believe that «scientific journalism» is some futuristic, hippy freak idea totally unrelated to our present times? Can you still uphold that Wikileaks brought nothing new but some hilarious, funny stories about some unimportant celebrities? Do you still feel that people love to buy your newspapers for a lot of money while (maybe?) thinking that Wikileaks is too stupid to ask money for their publications? Might it be that people are too stupid to recognize your smears, your personal vendettas, your pity subservience to the politically and economically powerful, pushing Wikileaks stories to the back of your pages and spelling http://www.wikileaks.org not correctly once throughout your whole newspaper? Could it be, that you are not scared by all this at all but in contrary: welcome it? Welcome your own doom as a kind of necrophilic relief? As a kind of salvation? 
Tell me! I want to know! Really want to know…   //

If you like this essay, you might also like the following ones: 

Breaking secrets or leaking crimes? Let's start with the central point: the question is not «Did Julian Assange have contact or even initiate contact with Bradley Manning?», «Did Julian Assange convince or even push Bradley Manning to leak data?» or «Did Julian Assange provide infrastructure to Manning in order to leak data?», no, the central question is: «Did Bradley Manning expose any crimes?»…

More restrictive weapon laws? (in german with good english video material) Bullshit! Roosevelt hit it with his – by now infamous – saying: We have nothing to fear but fear itself. (Franklin D. Roosevelt)…

The danger of censoring child pornography! Child pornography is not always bad…

Prison Rape The story of prison rape is one of power, silence and underreporting…

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