Framing and Wikileaks nomination
I was at my friend’s house this weekend and she mentioned how mad she was that Wikileaks had been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. This friend is very against Wikileaks and often goes on rants about it on Facebook. Seeing as it is such a controversial issue, I wanted to see what opinions others had on the nomination and how it is being framed in the news.
The first news stories I read all pretty much said the same thing, apparently quoting the AP press release. American news sources such as CNN, CBS and ABC all give fairly factual accounts of how a Norwegian lawmaker nominated Wikileaks for the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, and include his quotes on how he thinks Wikileaks has promoted freedom of speech and human rights. The articles also explain that the Nobel Committee receives about 200 nominations a year and do not frame the story in a way that make it seem at all likely that Wikileaks will win. Several articles quote a Nobel specialist and watcher as saying that he doesn’t think it is likely Wikileaks will win, especially because of all the controversy around the subject. CNN chose to give a quote explicating how US military officials have criticized Wikileaks. ABC’s article brings up Julian Assange’s sexual assault charges. The articles seem very factual with no opinion, but simply the information they choose to give frames the story in a certain way. Talking about the controversy behind Wikileaks and Assange might give readers the opinion that Wikileaks should not win, while also giving explicit statements saying winning is not probable. By quoting others, it seems these news stories are able to put a spin on the story without actually having a biased report.
Looking to national news sources I found some slightly more in depth analysis and reports. The Reuters article on the story mentions outright that “Washington is furious with Wikileaks.” It also talks about Assange’s sex scandal charges, but includes that Assange and his reporters say this is a smear campaign to attack the integrity of Wikileaks. This side of the story is not mentioned in ABC’s article. Reuters doesn’t make the notion of Wikileaks winning seem like such an unlikely possibility, although it does say that the Nobel Committee would be criticized if they did choose Wikileaks. It also says that Wikileaks’ win would highlight how important the internet has become in bringing about social change. This article seems to put the nomination in a somewhat more positive light. An article by the Huffington Post on the subject actually backs the nomination, explaining how Wikileaks was partly responsible for the important transformations currently taking place in the Middle East. The article also brings up Bradley Manning, saying he is responsible for bringing Wikileaks into the spotlight and he should be the one who is recognized, rather than being kept in prison. This article seems to be more of an opinion piece than a strict press release. An article in the International Business Times goes into more detail about Assange’s assault charges, saying that even though the case has not been decided the negative associations will prevent Wikileaks from winning the Prize.
I could also go on for a long time about the many prominent political blogs and opinion articles that have taken up the debate of whether Wikileaks deserves the nomination or not, but suffice it to say that I found lots of opinions on both sides of the issue. The nomination has received a lot more press than a nomination usually would, which is not surprising considering the amount of recent controversy around Wikileaks, added to by Assange’s recent trials. Still, I think people who simply saw the short story in American news would get a fairly unbiased version of the issue, but probably already have their own opinions that they are going to apply. The main news channels have done a fairly good job of presenting an unbiased story, but that story has spurned heated and renewed debate about Wikileaks in general, and nearly everyone seems to have an opinion.