Last night the Observer newspaper, a long standing paper in its own right (it actually predates the Guardian by several years) publisheda badly sourced front page story taken from Birtherist Wayne Madsen and the privacy surgeon site about European surveillance
Disaster for the Observer, which has been running on a much reduced staff for several years. It is owned by the Guardian now, but has a long and distinctly different identity and editorial separation.
Not for much longer after a disaster like that.
Complete cock up.
However, it wasn’t long before many were claiming that this cock up undermined all of the Guardian’s reporting on the Snowden issue. To me, that would be like assuming that News of the World’s hacking undermined the Wall Street Journal’s financial reporting, just because they have the same owner. In a long a protracted twitter exchange with Charles Johnson at Green Footballs (beginning somewhere round here) I noticed the claim had gone from ‘Observer screws up’ to “Guardian repeatedly used Madsen as a source.”
Well, no. A source of a story in journalistic terms is the ‘source/origin’ of a story. Apart from the Observer debacle, he is cited five times by the Guardian, for one line quotes, often taken from other news sources. All but one of these were from before 2003, when he launched towards birtherism
Having put paid to the idea he’s a major source for the Guardian, perhaps it would be worth watching this excellent Charlie Rose interview with Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger and US editor Janine Gibson to see their real motivations.
Three things are apparent to me
1. They verified everything
2. The redacted anything that was a threat to national security
3. They think it’s bigger than Snowden, and digital surveillance, for the first time in history, compromises the right to protest and the possibilities of investigative journalism
The latter is my biggest fear as expressed in the New Republic last week
Meanwhile Der Spiegel is reporting about surveillance on the EU parliament (Germans have a historical reason for mistrusting this level of intrusion) and the Washington Post is reporting that the NSA capture was of live information, with 49 per cent risk the target is domestic.