A revolution in Journalism: WikiLeaks and Julian Assange

May 7, 2023
Close up to Wikileaks website through a magnifying glass on the laptop. WikiLeaks is an organisation that publishes secret documents and news leaks.

Speech at The Persecution of Truth conference

According to Dr Suelette Dreyfus, Julian Assange was the most original voice in twenty-first-century journalism. She justified this claim by referencing the invention of the anonymous digital dropbox that WikiLeaks and Assange pioneered, which allowed whistle-blowers to transfer information to the public, while preserving their anonymity.

This invention was widely imitated by copycats like the New York Times and the ABC, who never defended Assange or his journalism, and treat his outrageous persecution as the normal outcome of a justice system.

The Walkley Award to WikiLeaks in 2011 for ‘outstanding contribution to journalism cited the invention of the digital drop box. The judges said:

This innovation could just as easily have been developed by any of the world’s major publishers – but it wasn’t. Yet so many eagerly took advantage of the secret cables to create more scoops in a year than most journalists could imagine in a lifetime.” 

As well as the digital dropbox, WikiLeaks pioneered analysing large data sets in a collaborative way with the massive Cablegate files, working with a global coalition that included 89 major publications including, The New York Times, The Guardian, Le Monde, and La Republica.

Yet while this famous Australian journalist is being tortured to death, slowly crucified by the governments of the UK and the US, facing the ludicrously vengeful punishment of 175 years in prison when he is extradited to the US, there is no outcry of support from our media. For over a decade, zero support!

Instead, he is subjected to ludicrous insults like the ridiculous claim that he is not really a journalist!

Julian Assange has won 24 major awards for journalism and social activism, receiving glowing endorsements from the most prominent journalists in the world.

Assange restored to journalism its noblest ideal, an ideal that has been increasingly perverted and debased by the corporate media in their quest for power: the idea of journalists as a Fourth Estate.

In the eighteenth century, the English government was based on three estates: the clergy, the house of Lords and the house of Commons.

The idea of journalists as a Fourth Estate, serving as a public watchdog and informing the citizenry about their government, emerged in the revolutionary era during the transition from monarchy to democracy when journalists like Tom Paine inspired the American Revolution, urging the thirteen colonies to break away from the British Empire and govern themselves.

The legacy of these courageous journalists was the first amendment to the US constitution, which guarantees the right to Free Speech and a Free Press, a guarantee that is under its greatest attack with the persecution of Julian Assange, who is being brutally punished for the crime of journalism.

The Walkley Award panel acknowledged Assange’s extraordinary achievement in public interest journalism, unleashing what they described as ‘an avalanche of inconvenient truths in a global publishing coup.’ The Award read:

This year’s winner has shown a courageous and controversial commitment to the finest traditions of journalism: justice through transparency. WikiLeaks applied new technology to penetrate the inner workings of government to reveal an avalanche of inconvenient truths in a global publishing coup. Its revelations on how the war on terror was being waged, to diplomatic bastardry, high-level horse-trading and the interference in the domestic affairs of nations, have had an undeniable impact.

The corporate media avoid condemning Assange’s persecution partly though jealously, but largely because of their anger at being revealed to be corrupt warmongers, who are serially dishonest and massively compromised.

In the centuries that separate us from Tom Paine and the American revolution, journalism became dominated by giant corporations and family dynasties like the Packers and the Murdochs.

These press barons misused their media power to spin the news to become powerful political actors, boosters of their chosen politicians and policies. What matters for the corporate journalists they employ was not truth but the narrative the corporate agenda demanded.

The Murdoch press has become the most powerful political party in Australia, according to former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Another former Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, described them as a cancer eating the heart of Australian democracy. Murdoch’s empire has a near monopoly in Queensland, controlling not just the Courier Mail, but every newspaper in regional Queensland.

The First World War further deformed corporate journalism, as the state harvested the propaganda power of the corporate media to convince young men everywhere to slaughter each other on an industrial scale.

Journalists of this era were christened the “stenographers of power” who reported the dictates of the war boosters unquestioningly.

The second world war intensified this marriage between the deep state and the corporate media. When Britain’s ally against Hitler’s Germany was Stalin’s Soviet Union, the British press lauded Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, and christened him Uncle Joe. Alarmed by the valorisation of Stalin, one conservative confronted Churchill.

“Don’t worry,” Churchill replied: “We can turn it on and off like a tap.”

And they did. Uncle Joe became the new Hitler, then Chairman Mao, Uncle Ho, Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Ladin, Colonel Gadhafi, Syria’s Bashar al-Assad as the endless wars rolled on.

In 2003, every newspaper in Australia campaigned for the Iraq war, a crime of military aggression against a sovereign nation, which constitutes the ultimate war crime. Their embedded reporters reported the war from the perspective of the US military, until WikiLeaks revealed their lies with the Collateral Murder video and the Iraq war logs. These revelations made WikiLeaks famous and made Assange the target of the Five Eyes.

Over the past year, our media have recklessly campaigned for a war with China. According to the China hawks 2027 is the year pencilled in for this war. This flock of vultures circle our planet, raucously squawking Orwell’s famous paradox that War is Peace.

In 2006, Julian Assange unleashed his revolution in journalism by adopting the Fourth Estate ideal of journalism that the mainstream media had abandoned. Instead of causing wars, WikiLeaks stopped them.

The persecution of Julian Assange shows the extraordinary propaganda power of the Five Eyes. For exposing their crimes, Assange, a hero of truth, was transformed into the most dangerous man in the world, his hideous persecution─openly, lawfully─sending its Dalek command to journalists everywhere!

View these videos from the conference:


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