Whatever your feelings may be towards him or his company, hear me out first. In my ethics class yesterday Emily Bell, director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia’s J-School, came to speak and we had a very rousing discussion about what makes Mr. Assange any different than a major news organization. The immediate answer was that he has broken the law, violated national security, and has caused a deterioration of diplomatic relations. But has he really?
If you look at the situation a little differently, I think you may find yourself in the middle of the road. For starters, WikiLeaks is a nonprofit, meaning Assange has absolutely no financial incentives from releasing this information. He also has a very similar mission to that of most news organizations. Let’s analyze:
Abridged mission statement of The New York Times:
“The Company’s core purpose is to enhance society by creating, collecting and distributing high-quality news, information and entertainment.”
Abridged mission statement of WikiLeaks:
“WikiLeaks is a not-for-profit media organization. Our goal is to bring important news and information to the public.”
Now are those two things so different?