a curious Yankee in Europe's court

blog about living in Europe, and Italy

Wikileak’s Julian Assange talks to Forbes

Posted on the November 30th, 2010

It’s the conversation favorite virtually everywhere you turn these days — Wikileaks? And the inevitable question that arises — are you for or against?

Yesterday Forbes posted online an article and in-depth Q&A with Wikileaks’ Julian Assange  (“An Interview With WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange” by Andy Greenberg).

Greenberg writes:

Admire Assange or revile him, he is the prophet of a coming age of involuntary transparency. Having exposed military misconduct on a grand scale, he is now gunning for corporate America. Does Assange have unpublished, damaging documents on pharmaceutical companies? Yes, he says. Finance? Yes, many more than the single bank scandal we’ve been discussing. Energy? Plenty, on everything from BP to an Albanian oil firm that he says attempted to sabotage its competitors’ wells…

Read Greenberg’s article here. His Q&A with Assange is here.

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A whole lot of people “get” data journalism

Posted on the August 6th, 2010

Last night over dinner with friends, one of them expressed her bewilderment about what the purpose of data journalism is precisely. And, she lamented, doesn’t it just make things worse by overwhelming us with information that most of us won’t ever read or watch?

A couple of us pitched right in and tried our best to explain and defend this fast growing development in new media, one that Wikileaks has thrust into star position in the news cycle recently.  We didn’t make much headway, I’m sorry to say. So I was especially happy today to find an article online that offers a bunch of help for the next time such a dinner table debate ensues.

It’s a terrific interview that Nieman Journalism Lab did — video and transcript — with the editor of the Data Blog for the Guardian (“How The Guardian is pioneering data journalism with free tools” by Jonathan Stray, Aug 5, 2010). The interview is thorough and in depth — with a lot of show and tell. And if it doesn’t supply you just about all you might want to know about the potential uses and service of data journalism, I’d be surprised.


The technology involved is surprisingly simple, and mostly free. The Guardian uses public, read-only Google Spreadsheets to share the data they’ve collected, which require no special tools for viewing and can be downloaded in just about any desired format. Visualizations are mostly via Many Eyes and Timetric, both free.

Surprisingly for many like my friend last night, the raw data the newspaper is posting online is getting some impressive traffic, according to the Guardian editor:

“… a million hits a month during the recent election coverage.”

Read and watch the full Nieman interview here.

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What does the Wikileaks Afghan doc story tell us about where journalism is headed?

Posted on the July 27th, 2010

Can the question of “Are we seeing anything new?” in relation to this week’s huge Wikileaks Afghan documents story also be applied to journalism itself?

The answer is yes, according to journalism professor C.W. Anderson writing in a post yesterday for Harvard University’s Nieman Journalism Lab website (“Data, diffusion, impact: Five big questions the Wikileaks story raises about the future of journalism” July 26, 2010).


The release of the Wikileaks stories yesterday was a classic case study of the new ecosystem of news diffusion. More complex than the usual stereotype of “journalists report, bloggers opine,” in the case the Wikileaks story we got to see a far more nuanced (and, I would say, far more real) series of news decisions unfold: from new fact-gatherers, to news organizations in a different position in the informational chain, all the way to the Twittersphere in which conversation about the story was occurring in real-time, back to the bloggers, the opinion makers, the partisans, the politicians, and the hacks. This is how news works in 2010;

Anderson goes on to point out how the three major newspapers breaking the Wikileaks documents story — New York Times, The Guardian, Der Spiegel — each talked in a different way about the Wikileaks data. And he identifies the emergence of something new in journalism (read post here).

Definitely fascinating reading.

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