Nov 28, 2011

Walkley Awards decide Julian Assange is a journalist

The awarding of WikiLeaks with the prize for contribution to journalism in last night's Walkey awards raises once again the questions of what is a journalist and what is journalism?

Margaret Simons

Journalist, author and director of the Centre for Advanced Journalism

The awarding of WikiLeaks with the prize for contribution to journalism in last night’s Walkey awards again raises the questions of what is a journalist and what is journalism?

That’s not surprising. Citizen journalism is with us, and so too is the global publication of pictures, news and information by people who would never think to call themselves journalists, but who find themselves caught up in events that people want to know about.

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36 thoughts on “Walkley Awards decide Julian Assange is a journalist

  1. David Coady

    In a free society you don’t need to pass any special tests or be a member of any professional association to be a journalist (it’s not like being a doctor or a lawyer), you just have to provide the public with information it has a right to know. Of course Julian Assange is a journalist. Unfortunately many of the “journalists” working in the conventional media are not.

  2. shepherdmarilyn

    Agree with David. Let’s talk about Australian journalist so brainwashed and ignorant over the last decade they still believe Ruddock’s nonsense that giving refugees a ride is “people smuggling” when international law says it is not and we signed up to the international law to say it is not.

    They are morons who still think it is our business who people pay to get them out of other countries, our business to police the borders of the world and still refuse to read the actual laws and transcripts of court cases.

    The morons now seem to have realised we are wasting enormous sums of money to jail poor Indonesian fishermen while the so called “organisers” are left untouched, we have been doing that for the past 12 years.

    Before that there were no such things as people smuggling rings or smugglers.

    The reality is they don’t want the refugees.

    But the moron media in this country tell me the law is “my opinion.”

    This was a great award – contrast where Dillard was, inducting the no talent budgie into the music hall of fame.

  3. G Andrew

    I’ve had to read this a few times to determine whether you are praising or deriding the award given to Wikileaks last night. Perhaps a bit of both?
    Ultimately I feel that Assange is not a journalist, but Wikileaks provides a resource, and one of high quality at that, for said same journalists to draw upon, therefore the award is perfectly in keeping.

    @Marilyn – the Walkley’s was wonderful viewing, and you are totally correct, it is embarrassing how our PM seems to want to put her face everywhere and be this pop culture figure.

  4. Neil Walker

    A journalist is someone who asks questions. They either interview someone via telephone, in person or even via email and then report on a subject.

    Writing opinion pieces is not journalism although journalists can occasionally write opinion pieces.

    Unfortunately far too many people working in modern media regard themselves as journalists despite never contacting anyone for comment on anything ever before writing up their opinion and claiming it is journalism.

    The Australia Press Council – like its UK equivalent – has been an abject failure. It is directly financed by the media outlets it purports to regulate (who sometimes threaten to withdraw funding if a ruling is not to their liking) and has done nothing to curb the worst excesses of some so-called journalists.

    The question is not should citizen journalists be allowed to join the Press Council but why would citizen journalists want to join the Press Council?

  5. Oscar Jones

    SHEPHERDMARILYN is correct. No qualifications are need to be a journalist and yet the major organizations employing them in Australia, namely Fairfax & News Ltd want total freedom to act as they see fit and the ability to destroy reputations without any person-unless they are well heeled enough to access libel courts-being able to repair the damage done.

    Fairfax has descended almost to News Ltd level and that’s exampled by their boss fronting a media inquiry and demanding ‘self regulation’, an option not available to any other profit making entity.

    Assange happened despite the world’s media. And the Walkey’s are an in house joke.

  6. klewso

    “Political actor”? Do they mean like Murdoch – “Citizen No.1”?

    (Surely a journalist is one who “contributes to a journal”?)

  7. Neil Walker

    Also, Julian Assange is not a journalist. It’s arguable that Wikileaks is even a source.

    Wikileaks is a conduit — albeit a fascinating and high-profile conduit — for sources.

    Unlike most sources Wikileaks had no direct dealings with those it revealed information about. (Unlike, for example, a current or ex-employee of a government or private company that leaked to the media)

  8. zut alors

    I was pleased Gillard was at the Aria awards instead. Maintain the Walkleys as a politician-free event.

  9. NAJ Taylor

    Whilst there’s some truth here: “Unlike the purveyor of the Pentagon Papers or other leakers of time past, he did not need mainstream media to get the information out there. He collaborated with mainstream media because it suited him, not because it was his only option.”, the very point is that Assange did need the mainstream media – he has many times spoken of his disappointment and amazement that his first few leaks had little to no impact. “The people” often need to be communicated to, not given information – apathy scuppers scandals and corruptions too.

    BTW, Assange has long referred to himself not as a spokesman, but a journalist in official documentation.

  10. Paul Quill

    At this point it does seem fair to point out that News of the World hackers are journalists. So is your typical PR. All of them can join the union, which decides who can be a journalists. Even people who get paid by universities to talk about other people’s “journalism” are, apparently, journalists.
    As the currency continues to devalue in line with the long lost drachma, “journalism” as it was once identified by the audience – a trusted source of what’s going on – is now anything at all. Or nothing. Or something you don’t trust in the least, like a blogger. (Sorry, a “citizen journalist”.)
    The Walkey booze up is resembling these days the ballroom of the Titanic.

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