UNESCO held the event “The Media World After Wikileaks and News of the World” Feb. 16 – 17, 2012, the Center for International Media Ethics reported. According to CIME, the weekend included “a wide range of new questions” about the media’s future including:
- “Should journalists’ roles and their professional and ethical standards be reconsidered?
- “What is the relationship between “citizen journalism” and traditional journalistic professionalism?”
UNESCO published its program here. Panel discussions included “How Professional Media Deal with the Digital Environment,” “Professionalism and Ethics in the New Media Environment after WikiLeaks and The News of the World,” “International Law after WikiLeaks,” “Government-Media Relations after WikiLeaks,” “Internet Freedom after WikiLeaks,” and “Professional and ‘Citizen’ Journalism Working Together after WikiLeaks.”
WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange criticized the event because WikiLeaks wasn’t “granted a speaking slot on one of the panel discussions,” according to the Independent. While WikiLeaks said UNESCO “banned” the group, UNESCO said WikiLeaks could “attend the Conference and take part of the debate,” according to the Independent.
WikiLeaks issued a Feb. 15 press release announcing that is “denounces UNESCO after WikiLeaks Banned from UNESCO conference on WikiLeaks.” Assange called for people to “Occupy UNESCO.” WikiLeaks claimed that the conferences’ “US organizers have stacked the conference with WikiLeaks opponents and blocked all speakers from WikiLeaks.”
UNESCO’s Guy Berger is quoted as saying “I think their frustration may be that they would like to be centre-stage. The door is open but it’s not the entire stage and the entire focus of the conference that is open to them.” Likewise, the Hindu reported that Ronald Koven, from conference co-sponsor the World Press Freedom Committee, argued: “The main focus of this conference is not about WikiLeaks as such but about the implications of its actions for the future of professional journalism.”
However, WikiLeaks’ Kristinn Hrafnsson said, “It is primarily a conference about the effects of WikiLeaks, and if you look at the key questions that were raised in the programme you cannot say that it is not about WikiLeaks, that would be absurd.”
TechDirt argued that WikiLeaks is “trying to make a bigger deal out of this than is justified,” noting that Assange’s “legal advisor is taking part.” That said, TechDirt questioned why “direct representatives of the site” weren’t invited to be on the panel.