Journalism As Espionage (and an update on Assange’s fashion career)

First of all, it appears yesterday’s announcement that Julian Assange was beginning a career as a fashion runway model was a touch premature.

Specifically, the fashion designer in question had made the pronoucement to the press… without so much as asking Assange if he was interested! Evidently he was hoping that “it goes in the press first and then it happens.” [1]

I gotta wonder a little, what kind of a person does something like that… or, for that matter, why none of the sources *I* saw included that critical detail! Journalists these days…

…are too busy being spies?

At least, Quinn Norton seems to be doing her part towards helping them into the world’s second oldest profession. In an article with the Columbia Journalism Review [2] she explores the case of how she middle-wommaned a transfer of documents from a Syrian embassy email server to ProPublica.

To be sure, she doesn’t call it “espionage.” She calls it “data journalism.” But the operation has all the hallmarks of the shadier side of the information gathering business, the operational security, the nail-biting tension as everyone hopes nothing will go wrong.

And then the adversary slamming shut the security hole used to grab the documents… two hours after a few documents were sent to the Syrians for comment.

One interesting thing: her choice of password sources, used for transferring the documents over Skype. She picked one of 6 file hashes (from the first batch of 6 files) and used that hash as a password.

I admit I’m a little curious why she didn’t simply automatically generate 6 passwords, write them down on two slips of paper, and then refer to them later by number. But I suppose this way it’s harder to lose the password?

The idea to involve Assange in the show came about a couple of months ago when Westwood was talking with his PR representative, Richard Hillgrove, about the
42-year-old’s case. Hillgrove then duly set about organising the tie-up, though Westwood is yet to actually meet Assange or visit the embassy.

“I haven’t spoken to Julian at all actually yet but I would like to. I’m waiting to hear from him now. It’s funny how these things work – it goes in the press first
and then it happens! I don’t see why he wouldn’t do it – after all he needs publicity for his case,” he comments.
Journalism standards collapse: 12,600 news articles on #Assange fashion show – that #Assange hadn’t even heard of
The WikiLeaks Twitter account criticized the media for spreading a rumor about Julian Assange starring in a fashion show (12,600 results on Google News Search)
despite Assange never hearing of it and the fashion show director Ben Westwood stating, “I haven’t spoken to Julian at all actually”.


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