Media Smear Campaign Against Glenn Greenwald Shows Our Entire Press is Now a Big Gossip Page
Easy access to media has caused a sharp increase in access to information and a decrease in privacy, with or without government spying. Everyday, the things we send out into the internet could be read by people we don't know in places we've never been. Teens are now growing up online, and we all know people who are guilty of oversharing. But how does access to personal information affect the way current stories unfold? Certainly there are consequences when traditional outlets fail to adapt (i.e. they become irrelevant or discredited), but are all new uses of innovation a good thing for information sharing?
One transformative trend we can see sweeping nation is the "tabloid effect." Previously reserved mostly for politicians and celebrities, many business executives and journalists are finding themselves under the same personal scrutiny. This fascination with the details of one's private life — what they eat, where they went to school, who they are romantically involved with — is nothing new, but the ability to be more efficient in gathering this information has fueled a society of busybodies.
Nowhere this "tabloid effect" more clear than in the case of Glenn Greenwald.
Greenwald, a journalist for The Guardian, is used to covering headlines, not necessarily being one. But after he leaked the biggest story of his career thus far he saw many people asking questions ... about him. As Greenwald writes in his own defense, he received an email a few days ago from the New York Daily News requesting comments on an article they were going to run about his past as a lawyer for Master Notions. Buzzfeed, and then Gawker, followed the Daily News and published their own coverage on the newly-formed journalist-superstar. Turns out Greenwald has a few skeletons in his closet, taking place over 10 years ago and holding little relevance to the Snowden events. Even further in a list of things unrelated to Greenwald's credentials or journalistic integrity was mention of his love life. In fact, Gawker's article goes into more detail about his partner than it does his accomplishments during his 5 years at Salon. All three articles, especially from Gawker and the Daily News, are imprudently long and deserve no more attention. For those who want to take the time to read the incredibly verbose articles, you can click the links.
Whether Greenwald's speculation that the article is a personal attack for leaking a story is true, or rather it merely functions as a news outlet's pleading cry to get viewers, both hypotheses acknowledge the fact that audiences will probably read it. And that's no crime: the story is based on information available to the press, freedom of speech extends even further for public figures, and Greenwald expected backlash for leaking the story. But at what point does our fascination with a person overshadow their accomplishments and turn into demagoguery, martyrdom, or fear-mongering? Whatever the reader's feeling about Greenwald or the Snowden case, the credible line between gossip and news are still being defined in online news sources.