Expectations Of War – Wikileaks moves from reporting to advocacy.

The excellent Kings of War blog has a piece, submitted by a PhD student at the War Studies Department in Kings College London, that makes interesting reading given the furore over the Wikileaks video of the Apache gunship attack in Iraq.

This post will not repeat all of what is said, and you are encouraged to read the full post here, but I will append an except:

In all of these sections, there is what I’d term “framing static” that shows the rather less than clear-cut nature of the events as they transpired. In editing this out, I think Wikileaks has committed something of a sin in making the events appear rather more definite than they actually were at the time.

In editing the video in such a manner, Wikileaks is as guilty of managing the truth of the event as the DoD spokespersons that they disparage for doing so. I am strongly in favour of publishing such material, but I feel that the way that it has been done has been disingenuous. I have, in the past, consulted Wikileaks for interesting doctrine and publications that would otherwise not be accessible to me, primarily as a research interest. But my respect for Wikileaks was founded on them publishing such documents “as is”, not editing them to prove a point. Something really bad happened that day that left two journalists and two children dead, and this video footage is evidence for why that occurred. By consciously pushing the viewer to condemn the actions as murder, Wikileaks is either casting doubt on their trust in their own evidence, or utilising it for their own ends. Before they do something like this again, I really hope those involved ask themselves to what purpose they are releasing such material. Is it to provide evidence upon which people will form an opinion? Or just so they can point fingers at people?

People need to be more critical of ‘evidence’ posted online, and they need to be more empathic to the wider situation that exists outside the grainy youtube footage that has just shocked them so.

Update – 21/06/10

Further comment from the Kings of War blog on wikileaks.

2 responses to “Expectations Of War – Wikileaks moves from reporting to advocacy.

  1. Wikileaks have policy of following their own dramatized versions of footage with the full unabridged original. The purpose of that is their promise to sources, that they will ensure maximum political impact with the material provided. Their purpose for the unabridged version is their ‘promise to the public’ to be objective.

    It seems like a solid and honest policy on the surface, at least until you look at the viewing figures. Of all of the people who watched the original ‘Collateral Murder’ video, only 1 in 10 went on to watch the unabridged source video. The other 9 were happy to accept Wikileaks’ ‘Collateral Murder’ definition and move on.

    I’d say two things to Wikileaks:

    1) If there really is something controversial to be demonstrated, surely the original unabridged source should be able to do that on it’s own?

    2) How much does their policy of ‘providing maximum political impact’ skew their reporting away from the truth, towards sensationalizing material in any way possible?

    Personally I’m a fan of letting people draw their own informed conclusions. Having watched the discussion of this video all over the internet it was frustrating to see the initial spike of outrage, and how much that delayed actual sincere debate about the event and what actually transpired.

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