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Journalism and Society: Leaks and Whistleblowers

In 2010, WikiLeaks, in a partnership with some of the most important news publications, began releasing thousands of classified diplomatic cables sent between the U.S. State Department and consulates and embassies around the world. Three years later, Edward Snowden leaked top secret information about surveillance activities by the NSA. More recently, the Panama Papers became the biggest data leak in the history of journalism. These events signal the beginning of the big leak era, which this course will focus on. We will analyze the role of media concentration and technological innovation as twin driving forces in the inception of this big leak era over recent years. We will study the consequences of these changes at three different levels: (i) the legal consequences for whistleblowers; (ii) the resulting birth of global networks and partnerships that expose technical, cultural and economic limitations in the traditional media; and (iii) the geopolitical implications, as a breach in one government ́s security apparatus is a victory for that government ́s opponents. Finally, we will confront one larger question: whether the big leak era means that transparency will (could?) replace fairness as journalism ́s main paradigm.

Course #
MCC-UE 9111