Are News Editors Suffering From ‘NSA Fatigue?’
By Tracie Powell
Columnist, author, lawyer, investigative journalist and activist Glenn Greenwald believes when it comes to individual privacy breaches in the name of national security editors may be suffering from “NSA fatigue.” But at the same time, he said, the public is more engaged than ever when it comes to these issues.
Greenwald and Janine Gibson, Editor-in-Chief of The Guardian, fielded questions on Reddit Tuesday during an “Ask Me Anything” chat.
In June Greenwald and The Guardian broke the story about the National Security Administration secretly collecting telephone records of millions of U.S. citizens, including journalists. During the Reddit chat Greenwald was asked why he thought a story about data on Americans being forwarded to Israel received less media attention than other leaks.
Greenwald responded: “1) Because it involved “Israel,” which sends some people into fear-based silence; 2) Because it happened in the middle of Syria, which took up most oxygen; 3) Because The New York Times published nothing about it, for ignominious and self-serving reasons highlighted by its own public editor; and 4) Because there is some NSA fatigue: a sense that nothing that is revealed can surprise any longer.”
After the initial leak story earlier this summer, The Guardian later reported that the “NSA routinely shares raw intelligence data with Israel without first sifting it to remove information about US citizens.” Written by Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Ewen MacAskill, the story is based on information provided to them by Edward Snowden, the former NSA contract worker turned whistle-blower. After readers questioned the lack of coverage of the Israel story by The New York Times, Public Editor Margaret Sullivan responded that Managing Editor Dean Baquet told her the story wasn’t “significant” enough.
Sullivan wrote that she disagreed with Baquet’s decision and thought the data sharing story, calling it a “significant development” that “Times readers shouldn’t have to chase around the Web to find out about.” (Baquet, for the record, based his decision on both news judgment and use of resources, Sullivan reported.)
After raising the issue of “NSA Fatigue” during the chat, Greenwald noted a shift in public opinion polls that shows Americans, and global citizens, now view threats to their “privacy/civil liberties from their own government are greater than threats to their safety from terrorists.” This view is supported by the breadth of issues raised during the Reddit chat,
Redditors peppered Greenwald with a number of substantive questions that included asking the names of other journalists world citizens should follow, suggesting that there is an appetite for this kind of news that U.S. editors aren’t satisfying.
“There are a huge number of independent journalists and intrepid news sites that are very worth reading,” Greenwald responded. “Follow my Twitter feed where I often link to them. The internet is primarily responsible for enabling a massive diversification of media voices and democratization of our political discourse. That’s one big reason I consider the cause of defending internet freedom from state control to be such a vital political priority.”
RELATED: If you’re in or around Cambridge, Mass. TOMORROW, check out ‘After Snowden: Towards Distributed Security in Cyberspace at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society. Click for more info: