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How Much WikiLeaks Coverage Is Enough?

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

N.Y. Times Public Editor Says Paper Misses the Boat

Unity Offers Name Choice Without "of Color"

N.Y. Post Front Page Prompts Ethics Debate

Hearst Readies for Suit Over Unpaid Internships

Union Files Charges Against D.C.'s WPFW Radio

Jet Features First Wedding of Black Male Couple

CNN Plans Spanish Service for Broadcast TV

Short Takes

As a hearing continued over Bradley Manning's alleged leak of classified docum

N.Y. Times Public Editor Says Paper Misses the Boat

Perhaps understandably, a court ruling that a Zimbabwean mining executive must pay U.S. $10 million in defamation damages because of comments published by the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks did not get much Western news coverage.

Andrew Cranswick, CEO of African Consolidated Resources, allegedly told U.S. diplomats that the country's spy chief, Happyton Bonyongwe, and other officials were looting diamonds from the country's diamond fields, according to U.S. diplomatic cables leaked by WikiLeaks in 2009.

Cranswick says he never spoke to U.S. embassy officials. Still, Radio France International, which reported the judicial ruling last month, said the judgment was likely to encourage piling on by other officials linked to President Robert Mugabe's party. They, too, have launched lawsuits over WikiLeaks.

Closer to home, a military trial at Fort Meade, Md., has begun for Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army private accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of secret diplomatic cables and classified reports while working as an intelligence analyst in Baghdad in 2009 and 2010. The cables involved the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as U.S. relations with Third World countries.

Left-wing groups have accused much of the mainstream media, particularly the New York Times, of downplaying the start of Manning's trial.

On Wednesday, the New York Times public editor agreed. "In failing to send its own reporter to cover the fascinating and important pretrial testimony of Bradley Manning, The New York Times missed the boat," Margaret Sullivan wrote. ". . . The testimony is dramatic and the overarching issues are important. The Times should be there." 

The media watch group Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting said Tuesday, "These dramatic developments, in particular the testimony from Manning (11/29/12), were mostly unreported in corporate media. The New York Times ran a brief Associated Press wire story (11/30/12). Manning's story was mentioned by just one of the three big network newscasts (CBS Evening News, 11/29/12). There was a brief mention on the PBS NewsHour (11/30/12), mostly about suicide risk."

What were these reporters missing? Eliza Gray wrote Wednesday for the New Republic, "Last week, in a Grisham-like courtroom scene, Bradley Manning — the Army private charged with leaking hundreds of thousands of classified war logs and State Department cables to WikiLeaks — testified publicly for the first time since his arrest in May of 2010. For more than five hours, Manning described the two months he spent in a 'cage' inside a dark tent in Kuwait and the nine months that followed in 23-hours-a-day solitary confinement on a Marine Corps Brig in Quantico, Virginia. In one theatrical moment, Manning got up from the stand and paced inside a 6 by 8 tape outline on the courtroom floor to demonstrate the size of his prison cell. In another, he donned the suicide smock he had to wear."

The case is far more important than the fate of one man, however.

It places some members of the news media in collusion with what could be ruled an illegal act. It makes some journalists uncomfortable.

"The Times has always had a rocky relationship with WikiLeaks, Manning, and other leakers of state secrets," Gray wrote. "After publishing the cables, Bill Keller, the Times executive editor at the time, wrote an 8,000-word New York Times Magazine story in which he compared Julian Assange," editor-in-chief and founder of WikiLeaks, "to a 'bag lady.' 'We regarded Assange throughout as a source, not as a partner or collaborator,' he wrote." In Britain, "The Guardian, on the other hand, sought 'partnership between a mainstream newspaper and WikiLeaks: a new model of cooperation aimed at publishing the world's biggest leak,' as Yochai Benkler described it in the Harvard Civil-Rights Civil-Liberties Law Review."

The State Department would not detail the damage done by the released cables. A spokesman told Journal-isms by email, "The Department of State does not comment on materials, including classified documents, which may have been leaked. Any unauthorized disclosure of classified information by Wikileaks has harmful implications for the lives of identified individuals that are jeopardized, but also for global engagement among and between nations. Given its potential impact, we condemn such unauthorized disclosures and are taking every step to prevent future security breaches."

Andy Greenberg, author of "This Machine Kills Secrets: How WikiLeakers, Cypherpunks, and Hacktivists Aim To Free The World's Information," speaking in September on "The Diane Rehm Show," an NPR program originating at Washington's WAMU-FM, compared the WikiLeakers with the now-celebrated Daniel Ellsberg. Ellsberg released "The Pentagon Papers" on the Vietnam War in 1971, first to the New York Times, then to the Washington Post. That case went to the Supreme Court, which ruled that the government could not restrain publication even if there was some danger to national security.

The difference? ". . . Assange was just more interested in these record-breaking leaks, the act of leaking, than even the content of the information," Greenberg said. ". . . I do believe that Manning erred in releasing this kind of unfiltered, just massive mega leak of information. I believe he should have done more what Ellsberg did, which is to read it all himself, to filter himself and not put these innocent sources in danger."

In a piece Thursday in the Huffington Post, Assange asserted, ". . .The material that Bradley Manning is alleged to have leaked has highlighted astonishing examples of U.S. subversion of the democratic process around the world, systematic evasion of accountability for atrocities and killings, and many other abuses." Included was a revelation that two journalists, one a Spaniard, were killed during the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq when a U.S. tank fired on a Baghdad hotel, and that the United States sought to have Spain drop plans to prosecute three U.S. solders who were involved.

". . . It is the case that WikiLeaks' publications can and have changed the world, but that change has clearly been for the better," Assange wrote. Perhaps unaware of the case of the Zimbabwe mining executive, he added, "Two years on, no claim of individual harm has been presented . . ."

David Leonhardt, the Times' Washington bureau chief, defended the Times' coverage of Manning's military hearing, explaining, Sullivan said, "that, in essence, The Times did not think the hearing itself demanded coverage.

". . . Again, though, readers can definitely expect more coverage of Mr. Manning in the weeks to come," Leonhardt added. The subject also came up Wednesday in Leonhardt's online chat with readers.

Because of technology, there will be more such cases to cover — or be part of, author Greenberg indicated on the Rehm show. "Use the right cryptographic tools, keep your mouth shut and you too can anonymously, frictionlessly eviscerate an entire institution's information," the author said. "There may not be many Daniel Ellsbergs in the world ready to push through the 20th Century's stubborn barriers to leaking, but the 21st Century would be wise to expect more Bradley Mannings."

Unity Offers Name Choice Without "of Color"

Members of the associations in the Unity Journalists coalition will have a choice for a new name that does not include a return to "Journalists of Color" or a variation, the coalition announced Tuesday.

"Over the weekend, UNITY board members met online to discuss the UNITY Name Task Force's process, and as a result, a tweak has been made to the ballot in which members will be voting on a new name for UNITY," according to a notice posted on the Unity website.

"We ask for patience and understanding. And in particular, we apologize to AAJA members," referring to the Asian American Journalists Association. "Some AAJA members have already cast their votes and will be asked to do so again on this new ballot, which will be made available to members by their associations on Wednesday.

"The new ballot will contain three choices; although Nos. 1 and 2 remain the same, No. 3 was tweaked:

"1. UNITY: Journalists of Color

"2. UNITY: Journalists of Color & Diversity

"3. UNITY: Journalists for Diversity

"The first two names on the ballot were the most suggested during the month-long suggestion phase, when the public was asked to submit ideas via email to The third name was also one of the suggestions submitted, although it was not one of the top three.

"Members will vote through their alliance associations. Members will have 10 days to vote, ending 11:59 p.m. EST Friday, Dec. 14. No write-ins will be considered."

The coalition of Hispanic, Asian American, Native American and lesbian and gay journalists last month unveiled three choices for a new name. The third choice, "UNITY: Journalists of Color & for Diversity Inc.," was dropped in favor of "UNITY: Journalists for Diversity" after association members said some white lesbian and gay journalists were uncomfortable with "of Color."

N.Y. Post Front Page Prompts Ethics Debate

"A New York Post front page picture of a man about to be killed by an oncoming subway train provoked fury from readers left wondering why nobody, particularly the photographer, tried to pull the victim to safety — and why the tabloid published the image," Agence France-Presse reported on Wednesday.

Tuesday's front-page photo was taken by a free-lancer.

"Police say the victim, identified as Ki Suk Han, 58, was thrown onto the tracks during a fight Monday with a deranged man in a Manhattan subway station. He then staggered to his feet and tried, but failed to get out the way of the train, which killed him — in full view of a crowd of passengers.

"One of those bystanders was a freelance photographer from the Post who managed to take a series of photos, including the one occupying the whole front page Tuesday under the headline: 'This man is about to die.'

"In a video report on the story, the Post appeared to suggest that the picture and two others in a double-page spread inside the newspaper, were just unintentional byproducts of the photographer's rescue attempt.

" 'Not being strong enough to physically lift the victim himself, the photographer used the only resources available to him and began rapidly flashing his camera to signal the train conductor to stop,' the report said.

"But readers quickly slammed the Post's photographer and editors for what they saw as a callous attitude to the tragedy. . . ."

Hearst Readies for Suit Over Unpaid Internships

". . . Hearst has a huge PR problem on its hands in the form of a big-news lawsuit — and its lawyers have begun to prepare by contacting affected parties in order to solicit positive testimony," Patrick Coffee wrote Tuesday for PRNewser. "We're not quite sure that will work.

Diana Wang

"The story: When Diana Wang applied for an internship at Harper's Bazaar, her only real goal was to make her mark on the fashion industry. She knew that it wouldn't amount to a full-time job (it was her seventh unpaid internship), and she told New York Magazine of saving every penny in order to afford the opportunity to work as 'head accessories intern' at Bazaar.

"The work was considerable: Wang supervised eight other interns, and she claims that editors at the magazine told her that her internship 'should be considered a real job.'

"Unfortunately, the internship did not lead to the fashion gig she craved — or any other gig. Her supervisor was bold enough to tell her that she wasn't ready for a job in fashion and that she should consider another internship. With that, she started considering her options. Given the fact that she worked a full-time schedule and drew no discernible benefits from the internship, Wang decided to file a lawsuit claiming that the internship was actually an unpaid job — and 3,000 other former interns joined her. . . ."

Union Files Charges Against D.C.'s WPFW Radio

The management of Washington community radio station WPFW-FM "was hit with two charges last Friday as the union representing workers there demanded back pay and documentation from the local Pacifica station," the Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO reported Wednesday.

" 'We're going all the way now,' said a frustrated Pat O'Donnell, executive director of SAG-AFTRA's Washington-Mid Atlantic Local. 'It's just too, too long, waiting to be paid what we're owed and given information we've been promised.'

John Hockenberry"The union filed with the American Arbitration Association for raises owed since 2011, as well as an Unfair Labor Practice with the [National Labor Relations Board] for WPFW's failure to provide documentation about its financial situation. 'They've been threatening layoffs and crying poverty, yet after months of promising us documentation, we haven't seen a single thing,' O’Donnell told Union City."

Meanwhile, syndicators of "Tell Me More" with Michel Martin; "The Takeaway" with John Hockenberry and "Smiley & West" with Tavis Smiley and Cornel West denied a posted statement from WPFW supporters that the shows did not go on as planned this week because WPFW had not paid for them. The programs were to be imported to the station as part of a controversial reformatting that saw the departure of more than a dozen people, including Bobby Hill, the interim program director who implemented the orders to remove the targeted hosts.

"Payment is not an issue," NPR spokeswoman Anna Christopher Bross told Journal-isms by email.

"We negotiated broadcast rights for Tell Me More with WPFW. Our understanding is that WPFW is determining the content of the streaming service it offers because streaming rights to NPR programming are limited to NPR Member stations."

Julia Yager, vice president for brand management and marketing strategy for Public Radio International, said by email, "PRI bills stations after they begin airing content, and we would not yet have expected payment from WPFW for programming that was to begin airing this Monday. I do understand that there have been some technical hiccups in receiving the content, and we expect that is why the programs didn't begin airing." PRI distributes "The Takeaway" and "Smiley & West."

Yager said by telephone that "The Takeaway" has no underwriters or sponsors, removing a possible objection by Pacifica staffers who said programs with corporate underwriters would be in conflict with the Pacifica anti-corporate mission.

"The Takeaway," originally a four-hour morning-drive program that competed with NPR's "Morning Edition," has been retooled as an midday hourlong show. It was designed to attract younger and more diverse listeners, Yager said.

While the median age of NPR listeners is 48, "The Takeaway aims at those in their mid-20s to mid-30s," Yager said, and seeks to attract more African Americans and Hispanics. Its listenership is 18 percent African American, compared with an average of 10 percent for NPR shows, Yager said. Four months into its shortened format, it airs on 73 stations.

Jet Features First Wedding of Black Male Couple

"The newest issue of Jet magazine, which hits newsstands today, features its first black male couple in its weddings section, according to GLAAD," Marquise Francis reported Tuesday for the Grio, referring to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

Ravi Perry and Paris Prince

"Ravi Perry, an assistant professor of political science at Mississippi State University, and Paris Prince, a licensed real estate broker and compliance officer for Massachusetts Commission against Discrimination, were married in August at their home in Worcester, Mass.

"The feature of the newlyweds includes a short bio of the couple and explains how the two fell in love."

Jet Editor-in-Chief Mitzi Miller said in a statement, "Personally and as a policy here at JET Magazine, we respect and embrace all humanity regardless of sexuality. There is no reason not to include same sex couples in our celebration of Black love."

CNN Plans Spanish Service for Broadcast TV

"Looking to tap the wealth of U.S. Latinos, CNN is planning to introduce a Spanish-language programming service tailored for broadcast TV stations next year," Meg James reported Monday for the Los Angeles Times.

"The service, CNN Latino, is being designed as an eight-hour programming block featuring news, documentaries, talk shows and lifestyle programming. It is expected to launch in late January in Los Angeles on independent station KBEH-DT Channel 63 and eventually be carried by TV stations in other cities.

"CNN Latino comes 15 years after the Atlanta-based news organization launched CNN en Español, a 24-hour Spanish-language news network available in about 30 million homes in Latin America and 7 million homes in the United States. CNN en Español also provides news feeds for Spanish-language radio stations.

"With CNN Latino, the company is attempting to diversify by providing a syndicated block of entertainment shows — not just news — to share in the increasing amount of advertising dollars being steered to Latino outlets. CNN's goal is to compete with established Spanish-language networks. . . ."

Short Takes

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Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites, but use may be illegal in some states. Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.

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Zimbabwean mining executive must pay U.S. $10 million

Curious as to what Zimbabwean law is regarding "defamation" and how it differs from U.S. law. From the description of events, it sounds as if the publication would be at fault and not the executive if such took place in the U.S. 

Editor's note: Don't know, but here is further reading: and

Journalisms offensive republication of photo

I am very disappointed Richard Prince with his decision to post the horrific photograph of the human being clinging to life after being pushed into the NY subway . The NY Post has a ugly legacy of engaging in sleazy titalation tabloid driven media for decades to observe this disregard for basic humanity appear on this site is troublesome and finally disappointing.

Why was this photo posted on Journalisms?

Hi Richard, Would you please explain to your readership why this photo was posted? Thanks Greg Thrasher Bureau Chief Voice of Detroit

Editor's Note: Greg, I'm open to arguments to the contrary, but "Journal-isms" is a site for people interested in journalism. The front page of the New York Post has already been widely disseminated, and I thought professionals should see for themselves what the discussion is about. I'd be interested in what others think. 


Richard, Thanks for the

Richard, Thanks for the reply. Being interested in journalism does not preclude an interest in decency and humanity as well. Since the NY Post photo was widely disseminated I am further troubled by its publication here on this site. I do appreciate your wiliingness to engage my concerns I hope other professionals share their thoughts as well.

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