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The WikiLeaks Story: Secrecy, Technology, and the Right to Know

imagePhoto Credit: Yellow Cape Communications
02/17/11 -   Scott Shane, lead WikiLeaks reporter for The New York Times, spent a day in the Knight School giving students and the community an inside look at journalism in the digital age. Shane spoke to more than 500 people in Dana Auditorium in an evening question and answer session, providing an  uncensored view into the American war effort, diplomatic relations, corporate malfeasance, and the accounting practices of the world’s elite.

Earlier, in a  one-on-one session with Knight School students, Shane described his newspaper career, from working on a paper in Greensboro, North Carolina, to reporting the fall of the Soviet Union in Moscow during a 20-year stint with The Baltimore Sun, and finally,  his current work in  the Washington bureau of The New York Times. Students from Lambda Pi Eta honor society and The Queens Chronicle student newspaper sat with Shane and shared  the benefits of having class in the Knight-Crane Convergence lab. He said it was much more modern than his bureau at The Times.  

The main event in Dana Auditorium began at 7 p.m., with  an introduction from James G. Babb, Jr,, chair of the Knight School Advisory Board. Joined on stage and questioned by  Dean Van King and Professor Nancy Clare Morgan of the Knight School, Shane explained his reporting duties and the editing decisions made on the  WikiLeaks story. He said that the redaction of people’s names in the government cables was a critical process involving a close collaboration between the U.S. state Department and The Times. So far, only 2 percent of the cables have been published.In an age when technology redefines speed, access and transparency, Shane addressed the specifics of how to handle what citizens  know and who should know it, particularly when the information is classified, as in the case of WikiLeaks.  Describing the decision-making involved in the story, Shane said,  “Iit’s always a daunting time at a newspaper when you decide to publish something the government says you shouldn’t publish.” After fielding  questions from King and Morgan, Shane then took hard-hitting questions from the audience, beginning with several top Knight School students.

Earlier in the day, Shane was interviewed by The Charlotte Observer, The Business Journal, and all four television stations in the Charlotte market.

In keeping with the Knight School vision of Always current, always connected, the event was streamed live via the Internet and  the #QueensKnightEvent  trended on Twitter.  Dr. John McArthur’s blog about the event, with  specifics about the questions asked can be found at


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