Snowden Coverage and Advocacy Journalism

The Edward Snowden government leaks have created a war between the U.S. corporate media system and independent media outlets. Here’s a refresher on the Snowden leaks and NSA surveillance on privacy rights.

In his article for the Huffington Post, Jeff Cohen discusses the implications of TV hosts and news panelists who refer to the government with the pronoun “We.” Even though polls show that more than half of the American public believe Snowden’s leak of NSA spying was a good thing, these voices are excluded from mainstream media. Instead, these news outlets focus on questions like: “‘How much damage has Snowden caused? How will he be brought to justice?‘”

“I would arrest him and I’d almost arrest Glenn Greenwald,” said Andrew Ross Sorkin, New York Times journalist and CNBC talking head. “We’ve screwed this up to even let him get to Russia.”

By “we,” Sorkin is referring to the government. However, the last time I checked, journalism serves as a check on the government, not a partnership with it.

In an interview with Glenn Greenwald, NBC’s David Gregory asked the factually-misleading question: “To the extent that you have aided and abetted Snowden, even in his current movements, why shouldn’t you be charged with a crime?”

Greenwald’s response: “I think it’s pretty extraordinary that anybody who would call themselves a journalist would publicly muse about whether or not other journalists should be charged with felonies.”

Defining who is and who is not a journalist has recently become a concerning issue. In an article for the New York Times, David Carr discusses the difficulties in discerning the “isms,” that is, journalism and activism.

The line between who is a journalist and who is an activist has become increasingly blurred in the case of Greenwald. Greenwald is an activist who is “deeply suspicious of government and national security apparatus” and a “zealous defender of privacy and civil rights.” Greenwald is also a journalist.

“All activists are not journalists, but all real journalists are activists. Journalism has a value, a purpose — to serve as a check on power.” -Glenn Greenwald

Because someone is an advocate does not mean they are the opposite of a journalist. Greenwald is no exception. Greenwald, along with other independent bloggers and independent organizations, scare the established mainstream media. This advocacy journalism has gained new traction as mainstream media continue to dominate news and fail to accurately report the issues at hand.

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