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WikiLeaks: news in the networked era


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Speaker(s): Charlie Beckett
Chair: Professor Sonia Livingstone

Recorded on 30 November 2011 in Hong Kong Theatre, Clement House.

This lecture will tell the story of WikiLeaks, the most controversial journalism organisation of the digital age. Led by the charismatic Julian Assange it has produced the biggest leak of secret information in modern times. It has grown from a 'hactavist' whistle-blowing website to one of the best-known media brands in the world, working with major newspapers like the New York Times and The Guardian. It has taken on the most powerful nation in the world and produced headlines around the globe.

WikiLeaks has also provoked condemnation for its disregard for conventional journalistic ethics and its disruption of diplomacy. Its founder Julian Assange has fallen out with almost all of his external collaborators and is subject to accusations of sexual assault. This lecture will ask whether WikiLeaks is a model for investigative journalism in the Internet age or a one-off experiment that has gone awry.

Charlie Beckett is the director of Polis, the LSE's media think-tank. He was a journalist at the BBC and ITN's Channel 4 News for 20 years before joining the LSE. He is a leading expert on how journalism is changing and the impact on politics in the UK and internationally. He is an influential journalism/politics blogger, writes and broadcasts for international media and speaks at conferences around the world. Beckett is a faculty member of the LSE's Department of Media and Communications where he teaches critical studies in International Journalism and runs the Polis Summer School. He is a trustee of Article 19, the Institute for Development Studies and the Media Society.

His new book WikiLeaks: News in the networked era (Polity) examines the effect of WikiLeaks and asks how it relates to new forms of political communications such as the use of social media in the Arab Uprisings.

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