Recently, the news has been full of stories about the dangers of being a whistle blower. Not only are the government employees leaking information to the public feeling the heat, but so are the journalists who report on their info. Any good journalist will do everything they can to get vital information out there to the public. Unfortunately, it’s this thirst for information that puts them at risk. In recent years, it seems journalists are more vulnerable to legal prosecution than ever.
In a recent article by the Washington Post, titled “Five ways to protect journalists and their anonymous sources” names ways in which journalists could, and should, be protected. Internationally, journalists are considered to have a certain set of rights associated with keeping the public informed. As long as the information they reveal isn’t a direct threat to anyone’s safety, they are within their rights to report on it.
The Obama administration has been particularly tough on “leakers.” Bradley Manning is currently serving what looks like it will be a life sentence for the information he leaked. The information hurt no one, and revealed inhumane torture at the hand of US soldiers. Had Manning sent this information to a US journalist, instead of Wiki Leaks, would that journalist have faced similar consequences? As much as we hope that’s not the case, it seems that it very well may have been.
Speaking on his tough stance on leakers, Obama revealed he wants to “strike the right balance between our security and our open society.” While Obama may say that, it seems his policies are in direct opposition to that statement. Waging what is being labeled a “war on leakers” doesn’t exactly mesh with the idea of “our open society.”
Perhaps the best way to protect journalists, and give the public access to real, unadulterated information, is to take some of the Washington Post’s advice. They name several laws that should be passed and amended in order for the rights of journalists to be restored. The last idea they have for protecting journalists, is in my opinion, the best. Invent technology, that makes leaking sensitive information more safe. Policies take time, and lots of money to make change. Technology on the other hand, can be developed quickly, and for relatively cheap. As with so many things in the modern world, maybe the best bet for maintaining the rights of journalists, their sources, and the American public, is to invent technology that helps us bypass unfair legislation.