Hacks/Hackers talking about WikiLeaks and the future of journalism

Journalists sometimes call themselves “hacks,” a tongue-in-cheek term for someone who can churn out words in any situation. Hackers use the digital equivalent of duct tape to whip out code. Hacks/Hackers tries to bridge those two worlds. This movement started in the US but journalists and bloggers worldwide are joining in.

We’ve a group in Brussels, Belgium now and during our meetup this week we discussed WikiLeaks: what is the added value, how do journalists work with WikiLeaks, should they work with WikiLeaks, is WikiLeaks itself leaking, is transparency always good, why do sources prefer going to WikiLeaks rather than contacting mainstream media…

One of the difficulties in many mainstream media outlets is the separation of developers and journalists. A better integration of the two groups leads to stuff such as data driven journalism and database journalism.

It can also lead to more awareness of security issues: how can investigative reporters use the internet in a safe way.

The meetup was organized together with HackDemocracy, a “community of hackers and workers in public institutions who care about the future of our democracies.”

There was a presentation by UCLouvain cryptographer Jean-Jacques Quisquater about the way in which organizations like Wikileaks – but also traditional media – can use technology to insure leakers remain anonymous.

Next on stage was Owni.fr, who have worked closely with Wikileaks. Owni also have a very particular organizational model: the team is composed of 1/3 journalists, 1/3 developers and 1/3 graphic designers. Nicolas Voisin (CEO), Nicolas Kaiser-Brill & Olivier Tesquet (data-journalists) were on stage to talk about their work on Wikileaks and the future of journalism.

Academic researcher Sidney Leclercq (Université Libre de Bruxelles) talked about Wikileaks’ implications for international relations and diplomacy.

This video gives a good impression of various discussions and presentations during our meetup (as you’ll see, not everyone was convinced of the added value of WikiLeaks):

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