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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Journalists guiltless after latest WikiLeaks releases, MU experts say

from the Missouri School of Journalism:
Columbia, Mo. (Dec. 2, 2010) -- With its major release of classified U.S. government information, the WikiLeaks organization has forced its way into international news again. Now that the secret diplomatic data have hit newspapers, broadcast media and Internet wires, University of Missouri free speech experts say that the journalists who have disseminated the information have not crossed legal or ethical boundaries.

Christina Wells, the Enoch H. Crowder Professor of Law at the MU School of Law, and a free speech law expert, says that while the government would probably have a legal case against the source of the information leaks, legal precedent for disseminating the information is on the side of journalists.

"The bar that the Pentagon Papers case set for press injunction is so high that it would be extremely difficult for the government to meet it," Wells said. "There also is very little basis for criminally prosecuting publishers of such information. Journalism publishing has evolved so much with the Internet that it would be impossible to stop the spread of information, even if the government legally could."

Charles Davis, an associate professor of journalism studies at the Missouri School of Journalism and freedom of information expert, believes that while previous WikiLeaks disclosures were handled poorly, the organization made a positive effort to work through the proper professional channels in this instance.
Read the rest here.

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