Target: Major News Media Outlets (CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, etc.)
Goal: Protect NSA whistleblower’s reputation as a contributor and condemn news media outlets for attacking his private life.
Shortly after Edward Snowden leaked NSA documents about its surveillance of everyday Americans, the very news media outlets that should have been reporting on the case turned to dramatizing, and even at times attacking, Snowden’s private life and trivializing his contribution. Nearly without exception, major news media outlets such as CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and more spent air time discussing Snowden’s personal life—everything from where he grew up to the life of his girlfriend, who had an online blog and posted often-racy self portraits.
The problem is not that they were investigating someone involved in what is certainly a major news story, but that it quickly took the form of entertainment. Watching the anchors discuss Snowden’s girlfriend’s life was like watching an entertainment reporter on the red carpet of the Academy Awards. This is not what we count on our news media for. We expect the news media to keep us updated on the investigation of the documents uncovered by the whistle-blower, the extradition efforts, the moral and ethical dilemmas presented by the case, how commentators and the rest of the country are responding to the information, and to generally give us the facts we would not otherwise be able to get for ourselves.
This is not a condemnation of them bringing details of Snowden’s life to the public, as would occur in any investigation of this magnitude. Indeed it was public anyway, as much of their private lives were voluntarily displayed online. It is instead, once again, a condemnation of the deviation into finding fodder as a away to fill hours of news programming. Not only is this information useless, it is also sending a clear message to future whistle-blowers that their entire lives may be subject to intense scrutiny in the court of public opinion as well as the already real risk of retaliation by governments and organizations. This is not the message we want to send to future whistle-blowers.
By signing this petition, you are demanding that the media stick to journalism that aids us in our ability to make informed decisions about our lives, knowing what our governments, our communities and the world is doing. It is not to incite us as yellow journalism did at the turn of the last century. In a news story as inciting as this one already is, the more the media can use the opportunity to report the facts and ask questions about the implication of those facts, leaving others to form the opinions and leave the entertainers to the entertainment, the greater opportunity we have as Americans to learn something from the news. Please sign this petition today.
Dear Major News Media Outlets (CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and more),
In the wake of the NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden’s leaking of government surveillance information, please take seriously the situation we who are listening to the media are now faced with, as this information sinks in and becomes part of the American conversation and affects our future.
Your segments on the NSA whistle-blower’s background, childhood, and girlfriend Lindsay Mills and her blog and art have strayed into entertainment, too often sounding like a reporter on the red carpet at the Academy Awards instead of a sober investigation of the leaked documents, the extradition efforts, the moral and ethical dilemmas we now face, the reactions of the policymakers, and the implications on our future lives.
Furthermore, not only is a dramatizing of a whistle-blower’s personal life useless to us in our discourse of the issue, it also sends a clear message to future whistle-blowers that their entire lives may be subject to intense scrutiny in the court of public opinion as well as the already real risk of retaliation by governments and organizations. This is not the message we want to send.
Please continue to keep us informed of the matters that affect our lives and our futures, and steer clear of yellow journalism and leave the entertainment to the entertainers and those who report on them. This is more important now than ever before. We will be watching your continued coverage to make our decisions on where to spend our advertising dollars and where to get our news from in the future.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Talking Points Memo