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A Companion to New Media Dynamics by Axel Bruns, Jean Burgess, John Hartley

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Chapter 20

Lessons of the Leak

WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, and the Changing Landscape of Media and Politics

Christoph Bieber

Journalism or Terrorism—What actually is WikiLeaks?

With hindsight, the distribution of the 17-minute video entitled “Collateral Murder” via www.wikileaks.org and www.collateralmurder.com on April 5, 2010 was merely the prelude of the events to come. Provided in two versions, the clip documented an airborne attack on a group of civilians by US military forces in New Baghdad back in July 2007. It generated enormous public attention, online as well as in traditional media environments (Benkler 2011: 8). WikiLeaks.org, then an obscure platform known only to a few well-informed online users, had begun to take center stage and immediately started to frame its activities as a new and necessary form of investigative journalism:

WikiLeaks obtained this video as well as supporting documents from a number of military whistleblowers. WikiLeaks goes to great lengths to verify the authenticity of the information it receives. We have analyzed the information about this incident from a variety of source material. We have spoken to witnesses and journalists directly involved in the incident. WikiLeaks wants to ensure that all the leaked information it receives gets the attention it deserves. In this particular case, some of the people killed were journalists that were simply doing their jobs: putting their lives at risk in order to report on war. Iraq is a very dangerous ...

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