Monday 14 March 2011

Wikileaks – a Watergate moment?

Jstewart from Univ of Glamorgan has produced an excellent summary blog of the conference I spoke at on Wednesday.

Here’s an edited selection: “Are we witnessing a rebirth of investigative journalism, thanks to an armoury of new (web-based) weapons? Is the Wikileaks phenomenon the equivalent, for young journalists, of the Watergate investigation which inspired a previous generation (including the writer of this blog)?
‘Learn to hold a sword before you put on the armour of an investigative journalist’, that was the advice from the former editor of the Sunday Times, Harold Evans, in an interview recorded for a conference this week. His recommendation, to ‘become a reporter first’, represented one side of the discussion at Coventry University, about whether investigative journalism was dead or alive.

The Guardian’s David Leigh, who’s been at the heart of the reporting of the Wikileaks cables, joined the conference via Skype and emphasised the critical contribution of the journalist. ‘Dumping raw and random documents on the web does not change the world. What makes a difference is analysing them and making sense of them.’Making sense of the vast amounts of data now being dumped on the public (by the British government among others), certainly requires new skills and tools.

Paul Lashmar described a range of web-based resources, including Cablesearch which facilitates searching of the Wikileaks cables and Datatracker which makes it possible ‘for investigators to find resources, share information, and learn new “tricks of the trade”.’ He believes Wikileaks has given new energy to investigative journalism. Challenged on whether this really was investigative journalism, he replied: ‘It’s information we can do something with.’To read the blog click