The NSA Debate Is As Much About Journalism As Surveillance
In late June, the economist Dean Baker astutely observed that our NSA reporting was "doing as much to expose corrupt journalism as to expose government spying." Indeed, from the earliest stages of this reporting, back in Hong Kong, we expected (and hoped) that the reporting we were about to do would expose conflicts in how journalism is understood and practiced as much as it would shine light on the NSA's specific surveillance programs.
That, I think, has clearly been the case. The debates over the proper relationship between journalists and governments have been as illuminating and significant as the debates over government spying and secrecy. Last night on BBC's Newsnight, I was interviewed for 14 minutes by host Kirsty Wark. It was an adversarial interview, which is how interviews should be. But she chose to focus almost entirely on the process questions surrounding the reporting rather than the substance of the revelations, and in the process made some quite dubious claims that come straight from the mouths of government officials. Nonetheless, her choice of focus ended up highlighting many of the most important conflicts about how journalism is understood, and is worth watching for that reason:
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