Industry, Technology and Politics
Edited By Alec Charles
Richard Junger An Alternative to Fortress Journalism
: Historical Precedents for Citizen Journalism and Crowdsourcing in the United States Most American presidents have made or been involved with informal, of f-the-record or leaked comments about pressing issues of the day. Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton angered President George Washington in 1794 for leaking information about secret negotiations with the British government (Woestendiek 2003). New York Herald reporter John Nugent was arrested by the U.S. Senate in 1848 for publishing information on a secret treaty with Mexico, leaked by a cabinet member of President James K. Polk’s administration (Merry 2009). President Franklin Roosevelt leaked details of the Japanese Rape of Nanking in 1938 to bolster his ef forts to expand the U.S. Navy (Ritchie 1991). In 1961 President John F. Kennedy told newspaper reporters of f-the-record that the U.S. had a demonstrable strategic nuclear superiority over the Soviet Union, so angering Soviet President Nikita Khrushchev that the latter ordered nuclear missiles to Cuba (History News Network 2001). And some Russians believed that a 1984 quip by President Ronald Reagan that ‘we begin bombing in five minutes’ made to technicians prior to a radio speech was a legitimate threat (Reagan 2007). But the reporting of of f-the-record presidential comments took on a new dimension in 2006 when mobile phone cameras captured humorous moments of the annual Gridiron Club dinner, until then an of f-the-record event for Washington insiders only. Two years later, citizen journalist Mayhill Fowler recorded then presidential candidate Barack Obama’s observation that ‘bitter’ small-town Americans ‘cling to guns or...
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