Whistleblower or Traitor: Edward Snowden, Daniel Ellsberg and the Power of Media Celebrity Anthony Moretti, Ph.D. email@example.com Robert Morris University, Moon Township, PA (USA) 2013 Moscow Readings Conference Moscow State University, Moscow, Russian Federation
Snowden and Ellsberg • Polarizing figures – hero and villain (but to whom?) • Interested in publicizing a (perceived or real) government mistake • Endured the wrath of that government • Operated in a different media and political environment
Daniel Ellsberg • RAND Corporation employee who photocopied and then handed over to multiple news agencies a 7,000-page assessment of the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War • TIME magazine: Nearly a day went by before the networks and wire services took note [of the initial set of “Pentagon Papers” published by the New York Times]. The first White House reaction was to refrain from comment so as not to give the series any greater "exposure.“ • Democrats: Publication underscored the “deception” taking place in Washington and affecting both parties • Republicans: How dare the New York Times make its own rules about what is national security • Media never offered a “label” for him
Edward Snowden • CIA contractor who sent thousands of documents to The Guardian and other newspapers about NSA surveillance of Americans, and foreign governments • Democratic and Republican politicians: traitor • Sharp criticism directed at journalists, especially Glenn Greenwald • Instant labeling of Snowden by media: whistleblower, source, leaker, implied traitor
40 Years Is a Long Time • Explaining the differences in the media and political environment • Corporate Ownership • More media owned by fewer groups • Cutting news staffs; shrinking news holes; declining emphasis on investigative reporting; the “homogenization” of news coverage; demanding ever-higher profits; and emphasizing people/celebrities as newsmakers • 1970s: Who Ellsberg is/what makes him tick irrelevant in a national conversation about serious reporting and analysis about serious issues • 2010s: A kind-of pop psychology about why Snowden did what he did; how social media reacted to it; drama about deportation/extradition
40 Years Is a Long Time • Explaining the differences in the media and political environment • Technology • Fenton: “Speeding it up and spreading it thin” • Opinion seeping into news coverage • Boczkowski: “A journalist spends more time learning about other media than ever before, and this information increasingly influences editorial judgments • Carr: an emerging Fifth Estate of leakers, activists and bloggers • Mainstream media losing their prestige, audiences • 1970s: What is happening here answered by fewer media, reaching larger audiences and journalism standards clear and enforced • 2010s: What is happening here answered by MSM, social media, opinion programs; focus on the individual becomes easy
40 Years Is a Long Time • Explaining the differences in the media and political environment • Changing and weakened government policies • FCC and its “public interest” raison d’ etre • Ownership of newspaper/broadcast entity and audience reach • Shaffer and Jordan: “Members of Congress have sponsored legislation aimed at severely limiting – and even stripping – FCC regulators of their power to review acquisitions” • Supreme Court ruled in favor of New York Times in 1971
So What? • Should media reporting and analysis be on the actors and their motivations, or their actions? • If fewer voices are involved in conversation, then which sources enter media discourse? • If a journalist injects himself/herself into an issue, then what industry standards has he/she violated? And who is defining those standards? • In a deregulation modus operandi for government, should we be surprised that lax policies exist in media?