Columbia Journalism School Staff Warns Obama That Prosecuting Wikileaks Will 'Set A Dangerous Precedent'

from the heed-the-warning dept

While it's been unfortunate watching the traditional press attack Wikileaks for doing the job it refused to do itself, it's nice to see the staff of Columbia's journalism school (still considered one of the top journalism schools) come out and warn the Obama administration that prosecuting Wikileaks will set a dangerous precedent for freedom of the press, even for those who disagree with Wikileaks' methods:
While we hold varying opinions of Wikileaks' methods and decisions, we all believe that in publishing diplomatic cables Wikileaks is engaging in journalistic activity protected by the First Amendment. Any prosecution of Wikileaks' staff for receiving, possessing or publishing classified materials will set a dangerous precedent for reporters in any publication or medium, potentially chilling investigative journalism and other First Amendment-protected activity.

As a historical matter, government overreaction to publication of leaked material in the press has always been more damaging to American democracy than the leaks themselves.

The U.S. and the First Amendment continue to set a world standard for freedom of the press, encouraging journalists in many nations to take significant risks on behalf of transparency. Prosecution in the Wikileaks case would greatly damage American standing in free-press debates worldwide and would dishearten those journalists looking to this nation for inspiration.
Seems to more or less summarize the position we've taken over the last few weeks as well...
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: free speech, journalism, obama, professors, wikileaks
Companies: wikileaks


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. identicon
    Richard Kulawiec, 15 Dec 2010 @ 6:36pm

    Re:

    I've often reflected that in a mere twenty years we went from a President who could explain in rigorous technical detail how a nuclear submarine works to one who could not pronounce the word "nuclear" properly. (Not to mention from one who came as close as anyone ever has to bringing some semblance of peace to the Middle East to one who started a war there just because he could.)

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.