When Julian Assange took the stage at the Frontline Club in London today, there were 25 media companies' logos behind his back. The New York Times was not one of them. The unusual mix of media organizations helping to disseminate WikiLeaks' latest release reveals how much the WikiLeaks founder's behavior over the last year has alienated onetime mainstream media collaborators like The Times, The Guardian, and Der Spiegel.
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Among the media organizations working with Assange this time around was everyone from Italy's L'Espresso to Chile's CIPER to Egypt's Al Masry Al Youm to India's The Hindu to Rolling Stone. (Check out a full list here.) Those news organs may not pack the same institutional power as WikiLeaks' previous partners, but Assange still managed to get some attention for his new data dump.
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Most of the world's leading journalistic organizations and WikiLeaks' former partners were quite conspicuously absent from the conversation. This is to be expected since they're no longer friends. We've written before about how Assange doesn't get along with The Guardian, and The New York Times hasn't been shy about revealing its beef with the organization. Former executive editor Bill Keller even went so far as to write New York Times Magazine piece critical of Assange.
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In addition to Assange's short speech at Monday's press event in London, one of the members of The Yes Men spoke about the revelations in the five million emails from the private security contractor Stratfor, which he called "a journalistic organization." In truth, Stratfor is an intelligence firm, sometimes referred to as a "shadow" extra-governmental CIA. Throughout the course of the two-hour long event at the Frontline Club, Assange piped in a number of guests from around the world and helped moderate a panel of journalists from new WikiLeaks partner publications in Spain, Italy, and the United States. Together, they talked about spies, the Internet, and the news.
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Even though the media companies now supporting WikiLeaks are smaller than previous allies, the evidently cash-strapped organization is still able to do its work, even as Assange deals with the on-going rape charges that he faces in Sweden. It's unclear if with its latest release, WikiLeaks can return to relevance. But they still have access to interesting data that journalists are hungry to understand, so that's a start. It remains to be seen, however, if the Stratfor leaks will produce any real, good stories.