Don’t trust the Media. Even if they leak…

To be honest - I've never been that much into Wikileaks. I generally did not care that much about uncovering and investigating journalism. The reason is some kind of built in distrust I can't get rid of: The worst case scenario is always my first option.
I know that I'm wrong here in two ways:

  • There are nice people.
  • It is important to show the worst case truth, because there are more than enough naive people around who might believe that everything's fine - until you show what's wrong.

The politicians' and diplomats' gossip is ridiculous - I guess no one really assumed that they would treat each other respectfully and not call each other animal names. Remember the former Austrian chancellor Schüssel? He did that publicly, in front of journalists...

Wkileaks is working the same way traditional media do: Give us information, we'll brush it up, and if we're lucky, many people will (pretend to) be shocked.
It's also facing the same risks: There's always someone who can pull the plug. Fortunately, there is not only Wikileaks, but the internet...

What's the difference between the war videos that were published on Wikileaks (american soldiers cheering as they shot civilians) and the televised bombings the government published the Gulf Wars?

  • You knew that people are killed during war, did you?
  • You did not think that men who don't care about politics in their daily lives, who can hardly read and write, turn into deliberate, just, and thoughtful freedom fighters, if you give them guns and allow them to kill?
  • And I assume you did have enough imagination to see what happenend to the Iraqui troops in the Kuwait desert, before the impressive and peaceful movies of burnt tanks in the sand could be taken...

Both ways of information only work with common assumptions in the background: A scandal arises, if clichees are hurt: Things are not as we thought; somebody was convicted lying.
Probably, if leaks and exposures continue, some day everybody will be as distrustful as I am. I don't care that much about policital consequences: Some heads are going to roll, new ones will grow, in a few years, they will roll as well.
Some day, if platforms like Wikileaks are really successful, we will maybe not have any clichees anymore. No wrong assumptions, just the truth. - Is that an open and honest society? Or a society that has lost the ability to outrage, rebellion and to trouble over scandals?

I don't think that this will happen. But I think this shows why any kind of public media needs clichees to work and why we need our own brains, thoughts, experiences and backgrounds to make sense of information, data and relations that are nowadays just too obvious.

In short:

  • Publishing lots of information is nowadays the best way to hide it - nobody will care.
  • Media business is media business: It's commercial, it has to do with power and it only works, if there are common assumptions about what's going on and about how life should be.
  • If we remove tradition, power, religion and our enemies from the picture, we have no answer to the question how life should be. I think this will be an important issue: Wikileaks and the like do not only destroy our common assumptions, they also destroy the potential to pretend that we have (or believe in) common assumptions. - That's the point were a conversation becomes difficult. And interesting. Even if we can't get real - we have to be more clear about our assumptions.

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Don’t trust the Media. Even if they leak…

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