Yesterday I came across an article that I think presents the perfect opportunity to explain how irresponsible it is to report on leaked documents, without publishing said documents along with your report – and not the other way around. What I mean to say is that it seems like some major publishers around the internet try to stay as far away from leaks as humanly possible, believing that leaked documents are highly unethical, immoral or illegal in nature. Still others will report on leaks, but choose to keep the leaked documents redacted from the general public. For the purposes of this article, from the perspective of someone willing to publish anything and everything, these are the types of publishers I would like to address or draw attention to here today.
Truth be told, I was first inspired to write this article today after seeing an article in Express.co.uk yesterday, allegedly reporting on leaked documents “seen by The Sunday Times” the day beforehand. I put that wording in quotations specifically because, conspicuously absent from the “reports” on the leaked documents in both publications was the leaked documents themselves 🤔.
— AgentGB (@AgentGB1) April 14, 2019
In response to the article and the man whom shared it with me, I made the snide remarks “In other news, in leaks seen by Rogue Media Labs, rainbow zombie unicorns from Mars are set to invade tomorrow!” It was obviously a joke of course, but I was also being serious. I used it as an opportunity to explain how irresponsible it is to report on leaked documents without actually showing said documents. The way I look at the situation, none of these stories have any validity without them. For example, why should anyone believe what these authors, reporters or sources have to say about the situation? How can we be certain they weren’t just written by some extremist Christian Zionist pretending to be ISIS in order to keep the public in fear? How can we ensure the information is even real or authentic? Why should anyone believe the words of this reporter, because they said so?
It’s quite literally impossible for anyone to validate the reports without anyone seeing the documents for ourselves, which is why I find this type of reporting incredibly reckless and irresponsible. I get why some publishers do this though. For example, I can almost guarantee the Express.co.uk reporters in question omitted these documents because they thought it might be too dangerous/extreme to include in the article first place. In this way, they actually see their reporting as moral/ethical, even though I still believe the exact opposite. Still other publishers, such as Reuters, refuse to publish leaks or link to other sources of news in their documents for the “prestige“of it all; they want their readers to believe they are the top of the internet food chain and are so “fancy-pants” that they are privy to information no one else is – nah nah 😛
As I’ve already stated, I get why these publishers do this – I just don’t understand it. The way I look at it, the whole reason for owning a news site and wasting so much time writing is so that I can educate the public and give them as much information as humanly possible when it comes to issues/events making the news. This is the disconnect I feel/see with other news reporters, which is why I do what I do here at Rogue Media Labs. It’s almost funny in a way, some people think it’s unethical for me to publish so many raw leaks to the public, while I think it is arrogant and irresponsible not to. The way I look at it, if you do not have the balls to publish leaked documents for yourself, you are either hiding something, have a deliberate agenda, or scared. Either way, if you are not willing to openly publish leaked documents, you should probably just stay away from writing about them in the first place – yeah? After-all, this game isn’t for everyone.
“Don’t take life too seriously,
None of us are getting out alive.”