To Publish Or Not to Publish

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By Parmita Protik Das, CNN


(CNN)— In the dark pressroom, huddled around a conference room table, sat around 20 journalists from different news organizations. The reason for this meeting, Julian Assange had divulged one piece of divisive information to each news organization and they were deliberating whether or not to publish the info. After a heated moderated caucus debating the role of news agencies to the public it was settled that, first and foremost, the legitimacy of the information had to be ascertained. A joint directive was passed in that regard and it led to a press conference with Julian Assange. In his tirade, Assange said that he was giving the news agencies a chance to publish the truth but provided no more insight to the sources of the information and whether or not they were legitimate. Assange stated that the news agencies would have to come to a consensus as to either publish all the information or none at all.

The news agencies, clearly ruffled by the lack of cooperation of Julian Assange, went on to talk about how best to determine the legitimacy of the information without his help. They settled on sending a third party investigative team to dig up the sources of the intel. While debating how best to get the information out, whether it be by collectivization or not, and how best to deal with the fallout of such information being provided to the public, the journalists were interrupted by an announcement by a high-ranking member of the Irani government who announced that the investigative team sent out by the journalists was going to be detained as Iran finds it unacceptable that they were snooping around on Irani soil. She informed that due to the lack of detailed instruction to the investigative team, they could not answer the Irani government when questioned about their presence and so they would be held indefinitely, without communication with the outside world. The journalists, clearly guilty over the circumstances, tabled their aforementioned discussion and deliberated how best to secure the safe release of the captured investigators. However, the directive of issuing a formal apology only managed to anger the Irani government even more and fizzled out any hope for their cooperation. To add on to the worries, the Qatari Royal Family announced that they were throwing Al Jazeera out from their headquarters in Qatar. This prompted Al Jazeera to reveal the state secret it was given (for the sake of the latter resolution CNN cannot publish the information). The news agencies, seeing the threat that merely investigating the sources of the information posed on journalists and news organizations alike, debated whether or not to further investigate such matters that might pose a risk to international stability and national security. Al Baghdadia added to the discussion by divulging why the Irani government believed it was prompt to arrest the investigative team by divulging their secret information.

CNN suggested the fact that it was possible to investigate the claims by asking our confidential informants in different countries to fact-check the information instead of sending an invasive investigative team which would raise flags and would alert the governments of the countries involved. CNN’s call for pooling our resources and, if each respective news agency so desired, discussing each piece of information so as to get a clearer picture – of the motives of Assange, how best to approach an investigation and to prevent any backlash on one particular news body by political administrations that disagreed – was not approved by a consensus.

In the face of the troubling issues at the table, Julian Assange took the floor of the pressroom once more and demanded a decision by all the news agencies of how to proceed: release the information or not release. The news agencies, recognizing the need to ascertain that the information was correct due to the responsibility they have as the 4th Estate, decided against releasing the divisive information and thereby took a firm stance against acting without knowledge of the motives behind Assange’s actions.


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