prof. e.

Mass Communication, [multi]media, methodology and much, much more!

Russian Hackers Feed US Journalists

Posted by prof e on September 15, 2016

Hacker at keyboardYou may have seen news reports about emails and other documents that have recently been released to the public after they were obtained by hackers, who are likely of Russian origin. Documents were obtained from Democratic National Committee computers, the Hillary Clinton campaign, and George Soros, a billionaire and liberal donor, earlier this summer. More recently, former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s emails were hacked. Some have speculated that Russia is targeting Democrats in order to sway public opinion towards Donald Trump.

Cyber warfare is not new, but this meddling by foreign countries in political matters on the eve of a Presidential election is cause for concern.

WikiLeaks, the organization founded by Julian Assange, and DCLeaks have published the leaked documents. Little is known about DCLeaks. While they claim to be a group of “American hacktivists”, some have speculated that Russian intelligence created DCLeaks for the express purpose of leaking sensitive data intended to manipulate the upcoming election.

But leaked information still needs a channel or conduit (aka “medium”) to reach its intended target audience…the American people. That is where journalists come in. Once private emails and other sensitive information is uploaded to the DCLeaks website, news/gossip websites, such as BuzzFeed, report on the privacy breach and the private information. Journalists working for established media outlets such as the New York Times, NBC Nightly News, CNN and Fox News file stories about the “breaking” news and these front-page and top-of-the-hour reports are seen by millions. Social media users take snippets of journalistic candy and spread it even further and wider. And yes, I recognize that this blog post is part of the problem!

Russian hackers, using the moniker Fancy Bear, have also hacked the World Anti-Doping Agency and released medical records from Olympic athletes from numerous countries, including celebrity athletes such as Simone Biles and the Williams sisters. Poynter.org, a journalism think-tank asked an important question: should journalists report on leaked information that was obtained illegally? You can read more here.

Whether it is private medical information or personal emails, questions remain. Should anonymous criminals with potentially nefarious motives be allowed to influence our culture and politics?, and should American journalists assist and abet them in the process?

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5 Responses to “Russian Hackers Feed US Journalists”

  1. John Lyons said

    My grandfather was a journalist, among a few other things. His approach and dare I say wisdom about stories and reporting were passed to my mother, who in turn passed them to us her children through how to understand and work with information and situations in life. The complexity of information flow today makes getting to the bottom of a story that much harder I think and I believe he would just wash his hands of most media today, and for good reason. He came from an era when people were held accountable for what they said and did, and it did take a human being to go and find them and make them accountable. Like preachers in the South, journalists were something not to be put off. It was generally better to just do the right things and not get in the paper in the first place (unless it was for something good…lol). What I am getting at is today, accountability is lost in the overflow of information, Chapter 13 speaks to the American value of neutrality in journalism. I think this has always been a very good thing, but it is something that is hard, and so it takes hard work to keep it so. It fails often, and more often now with so much simply being pulled off the wires and shipped out by computer, or disseminated and the chips fall where they fall.
    Hacking, in great part, is a natural response to loss of accountability. Yes, there are those who hack for money and nefarious reasons, but in general, most are looking for some type or genuine accountability through records I think. The real story, the real information. They too face accountability issues, and I think there will shortly come a time when they will have to come out into the light and join the open discourse if they wish to be taken seriously. They could be a powerful and legal force if they won’t go away otherwise. Not all are criminals. So I think the question at the end is wrong. If you have to commit a crime to get the truth, is the law wrong, or the person? Journalists can verify what they get. If they can’t, they don’t speak to it. That was part of my grandfather’s creed. You write only what you can back up. Today, anyone can write anything, and there is no time to research it all. At best, we shift for what we can, and I think that is the problem. We get it all in some form, and often it counters itself and what do you have? The greatest experiment in chaos ever attempted; the internet.

  2. Patrick Smith said

    It is obvious that ethical issues arise when considering whether or not the media and journalist should run with information obtained through illegal hacking or any other form of stealing. With that said I believe there are certain situations in which it is acceptable to use such information, especially when it pertains to the safety or benefit of the masses.

  3. Lacy said

    This a perfect article that shows just how journalism is and always will be ground breaking. This a huge scandal that deals with the Clinton Campaign and how everyone wants to know her emails and what happened. But the really draws this article in is the fact that wiki-links is this to secret sit that will release all the dirt on you if your being in the public eye. It also should be noted that Julian Assange, is either missing or sadly many fear he is dead. Since as of lately a bunch of Wiki-Link information is being released which some believe is a kill switch because Assange hasn’t been able to log into the site. It’s a very tricky slope Wiki-:Links once has to wonder is it really a good thing or is it a bad thing? Is it good a site having so much power and information? Who’s to say what is right or wrong.

  4. Huong Huynh said

    As you can see, this article shows what people can do if they really want to know the truth. It should be acceptable in certain situations, for them to go this route to obtain the information, but if it isn’t really important, they shouldn’t go through such lengths to obtain it. This article is connected to chapter 13 from the book on page 399. It is connected to the book because it talks about journalism on television and the internet. It talks about how journalist goes through the internet more now to release their information.

  5. Jeremy Hunt said

    The scandal with clinton campaign and her email is crazy. the wiki lins was a cercert and had all that dirt for te ublic to see.

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