The Break-up: Reporters and leakers calling it quits?

The stories of summer have undoubtedly created conversations and stirred the pot in society about race, privacy, government, etc.

Whether you agree with how events are covered or not it’s not really about the stories so much as the dialogue they create. Stories in media are more like talking points or jumping off points for a chain of events to occur in public policy and social change.

But a story the American people should probably hear on a wider scale is that of the true relationship between media professionals and where journalists get their information. Yes, we research but research professionals only get us so far. We’re on the hunt for a “voice” and that often comes from a brave soul, known as a leak.

Let’s go into an analogy:

You’ve been working out and look good, you see someone attractive and want to date them. You have confidence and charm so you walk up and leave your number. They dig it and call you back. You date, fall in love, give each other mutual respect and admiration.

A leak has a secret or information they feel is important. They have the confidence and like a certain news/media outlet so they email a big outlet (TIME, The Guardian, etc.) and wait for a call back. Media is pumped to know something before the other guys and calls them back. They interview, follow up, publish and … then relationship goes bad.

Leaks aren’t thought of with such high esteem anymore. I’m young so I don’t know but, the way I see it, the way I studied it, the relationship started to crumble after Deep Throat.

Journalists used to hunt for honesty and transparency instead of breaking a story first or ratings. Leaks seemed to want a silent revenge to those who did wrong versus fame (or infamy) they know receive.

I feel bad for leaks. I really enjoy a story with some anonymity because I think it’s real and authentic. When I interview people they’re much more relatable off the record – more at-ease and honest – probably more offensive but hey, I asked their opinion.

While we’re being honest, the truth is the public doesn’t trust the media so we have to use names. People want to hold someone accountable and have paperwork – use cash and you’re a drug dealer, use checks and you’re a businessman – see what I’m getting at.

Anonymity is often tossed aside or investigated- journalists will have their homes turned inside out by government and some have even served serious jail time for withholding information.  One of my professors had this unfortunate experience, his advice “either trash everything you know or keep every note- even a scribble on a napkin to protect your ass.”

So this relationship between leaks and journalists has devolved to nothing much. We’re persecuted for using them and protecting truth or they’re being persecuted for a story told through a journalist, not necessarily themselves. They trust us and we aren’t always there for them – sometimes because we can’t be and sometimes because we’re just kind of a dick. Many journalists don’t even like them. Grunwald’s comment about Assange is a perfect example. He’s not alone on his opinion, he’s just one of the few to be so idiotic about it on social media.

Nothing is deletable anymore and no one is anonymous.

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