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George Brock & The Yesterday Media
Today isn't yesterday anymore. Not any longer.
George Brock is a professor of journalism at City University London. Yesterday he had a busy day. First there was a do earlier in the day - beaucoup chitchat as always - and then there was the highly publicised but closed door chitchat with long lost WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Certainly someone of George Brock's academic stature can calculate how many additional lives in Iraq and Afghanistan were lost in this period, how many further wounded accrued, how many more civilians were murdered, and so forth. Certainly he can manage that. Or at the very least ask for a little hand-holding from one of his egregious colleagues.
George Brock represents the yesterday media. Perhaps George Brock doesn't notice it but yesterday's journalism is 'yesterday'. It's called gammelmedia in Sweden because it's outdated and antiquated and doesn't apply to the Internetted age we live in. Worse: it's destructive and oppressive.
That oppression doesn't apply to everyone of course. Those who are oppressed have by definition someone oppressing them. George Brock, wittingly or not, is one of the oppressors.
Dissemination of information today is about sharing. But things haven't always been this way. And George Brock doesn't seem to see things have changed either. Or want them to change. Dissemination of information has traditionally been the domain of a power elite - a church or a throne or someone letting it all 'trickle down' in a pyramidal fashion.
The infrastructures of our modern 'democratic' societies are still built that way: Assange couldn't get formal source protection in Sweden without registering himself as a publisher - in other words: the rights of whistleblowers are in no way sacrosanct and the rights of citizens to 'publish' things are no more so.
Citizens can assemble and talk with one another - but publish? No. They need the elite (the George Brocks) for that - something Rick Falkvinge's gone into time and again until people's ears turned blue and eyes got bloodshot.
George Brock is part of a power establishment. He's sitting at a place that's envious. He has a key to the inner sanctum where 'truth' can be given to - or withheld from - the populace as a whole. Of course it's at his discretion if this truth is to be known or not. Aaronovitch made it clear yesterday evening that Rupert Murdoch's Times had no interest in publishing the story of the MP accounting scandal - something one should assume every person at least in the United Kingdom not only was interested in but had a right to know.
The Internet today circumvents the George Brocks of the old world. People do their own research (evidently with more enthusiasm than George Brock's students at City). They share this information freely. And because they're not reading the likes of George Brock's friends (or because they have been) they check their sources very carefully. They're always asking each other for references and links. That's the way the Internet works today. A click is all you need.
And yet that elusive click seems too much of a strain for George Brock and his students. Throughout the story of Assange's visit in Sweden people found the most egregiously irresponsible things published in the 'yesterday media' whilst the bloggers continued to do the research and came up with the real story and the real facts.
WikiLeaks represents not so much a new journalism as a way to protect it. Any blogger in the world could have published the Collateral Murder video online. Any blogger in the world could have published the Afghan War Diaries. But the powers that be - and that includes the George Brocks of this world - would have been on them by nightfall, busting down their door, high power weapons at the ready, taking them downtown to a dark cell from whence they might never return.
All WikiLeaks adds to today's free flow of information is protection via anonymity. It's still the same bloggers - the same whistleblowers, the same Daniel Ellsbergs, Bradley Mannings - who are doing the tough stuff, potentially putting their futures and their lives on the line. But they believe in what they do for the good of all humanity and WikiLeaks gives them a chance to survive.
Daniel Schmitt said there might be a thousand WikiLeaks one day. And why not? 'Yesterday journalism' is dead. People own the truth today and have a right to it. They have a right to have the truth no matter what the George Brocks of this planet have to say, no matter how much the George Brocks of this planet get their feathers ruffled.
The world has moved on from 'yesterday journalism'; it's just that George Brock hasn't yet realised it.
'Daddy, why do they teach ethics in schools of journalism?'
'Because most journalism students don't know what that is.'
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