Respected Press Freedom Organization Excludes Assange From Annual List Of Jailed Journalists

On 12th December 2019, Kevin Gosztola writes

“After extensive research and consideration, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) chose not to list Assange as a journalist, in part because his role has just as often been as a source and because WikiLeaks does not generally perform as a news outlet with an editorial process,” Mahoney declared.

Shadowproof contacted CPJ with questions for anyone at the organization who could answer.

What did this “extensive research” involve? Was it part of the same process that is employed for all journalists who are considered for inclusion on this annual list?

If the “editorial process” is a process that involves shepherding content until it is published, how does CPJ view the document-vetting process by which WikiLeaks authenticates whether documents are authentic or forged? Is that not a standard editorial process?

Is CPJ aware that Assange received the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism in 2011, following the work WikiLeaks did publishing documents from Chelsea Manning? This is work that the United States Justice Department criminalizes with their prosecution against Assange.

Are there any concerns within CPJ that prosecutors in the Trump Justice Department may now cite CPJ to further justify extraditing and prosecuting Assange?

Assange possesses two press cards. He has an International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) press card. Since 2010, he also has been a member of the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), a trade union in Australia.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists’ methodology, Assange is a journalist.

“CPJ defines journalists as people who cover news or comment on public affairs through any media — including in print, in photographs, on radio, on television, and online.”

Assange routinely appeared on news programs and commented on “public affairs” prior to his arrest.

Harvard Professor Yochai Benkler testified as an expert on WikiLeaks and its role in the networked Fourth Estate at Pfc. Chelsea Manning’s trial. In a paper, He described WikiLeaks as an “organization that fulfilled a discrete role in network journalism, of providing a network solution to leak-based investigative journalism that in the past was done only by relatively large and unified organizations and now could be done in a network mode.” The media organization gathered “information relevant to public concern” and disseminated it to the public.

In fact, a 2008 Army Counterintelligence Center (ACIC) report on the possible “threat” posed to the U.S. Army by WikiLeaks (which Manning was convicted of disclosing to WikiLeaks), suggested the media organization engaged in journalism by attempting to “verify the information” in a secret National Ground Intelligence Center document on warfare in Fallujah, Iraq. This showed “journalist responsibility to the newsworthiness or fair use of the classified document if they are investigated or challenged in court.”

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