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Public Sphere Essay: Case Study of WikiLeaks


Task: How do you see public spheres having changed with the arrival of new communication technology, such as the Internet, social media, and, most recently, automated media, AI, and algorithms? Choosing one particular case study, show how public discussion, opinion, and policy, requires new kinds of communication and media strategies.


Rapid urbanization and technological advancements hasmade the way for individuals and groups of individuals to cater to various forms of smart approaches towards dealing with their day to day activities (Landert, 2017). Before the introduction of such technological advancements and smart algorithms, people used to cater to various forms of print and media through which they gained access to various forms of information (Landert, 2017). The main theme of this essay is the public sphere and its current form; over the years the public sphere has transitioned itself from a tangible form to virtual platforms through the availability of various forms of technological advancements (Marmura, 2018) such as blogs, internet, social media, and artificial intelligence. The aforementioned aspects cater to a particular case study of WikiLeaks and how it influences the various public spheres along with the influence that it has towards the political stakeholders, communications, and affecting the public opinions and legitimating policies. This essay describes though the case study of WikiLeaks as to how the organization used technology to expose some harsh truths about the political environment and the communication approaches that WikiLeaks catered to in order to satisfy their objectives.

WikiLeaks has been considered to be of great importance as it has catered to the way for creating a new public sphere through the propagation of new media on the political landscape of the worldwide scene (Ioffe, 2017). WikiLeaks also found an opportunity to use the internet as a source of weapon to unravel the ugly truths that the governments all over the world possess and the respective politicians over the world sought out for interesting measures to counteract the issues disclosed by the organization (Munro, 2017a). The mass media strategies that WikiLeak s cateredto were the communications systems towards a wider set of individuals and groups of individuals where the common public interconnected with the political views posed towards them through electronic media platforms. For example, the information published on social sites were accessible to a wide community through which a form of mass media can be generated and this helps to share information rapidly.WikiLeaks enabled the general population to pose their negative as well as positive views towards the political revelations that the organization adhered to and it helped the public sphere to develop an enhanced sense of information where they realized that the world was no longer limited to print media to get access to necessary information and opinion-formation processes (Pegg, 2016).

WikiLeaks targeted the general audiences by sending emails from a Julian Assange and it included unsolicited tip-offs, letters, and various complaints that made sense towards the various conspiracy theories that governments tried to hide from the general population (The Guardian, 2011).In its initial stages; unnoticed by the world, Julian Assange was developing into one of the most important pioneers who used technology to challenge the corrupt and authoritarian states. For example, in 2007 the latter unearthed a classified dossier that portrayed how former Kenyan President Daniel ArapMoi was siphoning off millions of pounds and hiding them in various foreign banks accounts in over 30 countries (The Guardian, 2011). This particular revelation put Julian Assange on the map that turned out to develop a sense of nervous systems for the planet and targeted the independent thinkers of the world who were fond of the information technology tools catered by WikiLeaks. The public sphere was further influenced by the outstanding revelations made by Julian Assange and this time it was not about a poor country’s president laundering money; it was about an Australian hacker who was working under the radar to publish America’s arms secrets which were beyond any technological or legal attack (The Guardian, 2011). The latter continued to expose classified documents about America’s military and foreign policy operations and these revelations had shaken the common mindset of the general population. For some individuals, Julian Assange became America's number one public enemy and a cyber-terrorist whereas for others he became a messiah towards changing the political landscape through information technology (Meskell, 2020). Julian enabled the heart of America, in other words, the public democracy to raise their voice against the malicious activities in which the country was involved in and with the support of the general population Julian went on to incorporate an organization known as WikiLeaks which became virtually indestructible beyond legal and cyberattacks or any jurisdiction (The Guardian, 2011). Thus the political landscapes over America and Mid-East became vulnerable and tarnished their image towards the general population for which the governments needed to restore the faith of common individuals of various democracies (Assange, 2015c).

Haberman’s theory of communicative action states that a community caters to a two-level societal theory which pertains to the analysis of communicative rationality; in this theory, the gains and losses of modernization can be overcome the one-sided version of rationalization which is through the thoughts and opinions possessed by the general population (Meskell, 2020). The general population adheres to social criticism and focuses on the correctness and the incorrectness of the political and public spheres through a two-part process where the public opinions can be shared and accordingly the political parties implement necessary measures to respond to such critiques (Meskell, 2020). Hence, through the technological advancements the public sphere was able to communicate with the political spheres in an effective manner where the governments of various nations had to act upon it as the common interests of the general population needed to be heard in a democracy (Meskell, 2020).

Professional communicator in influencing public opinion and legitimating policy
WikiLeaks continued to grow by exposing harsh truths about the political tensions among various nations; most significantly WikiLeaks exposed concealed court documents relating to Barclays Bank and Trafigura. The documents contained information of substantial public interests which the companies did not want to be exposed on public platforms but the revelations established a new form of indestructible publishing where the general population began to ask harsh questions relating to various parliamentary discussions within the communities across various nations (The Guardian, 2011). Hence the public sphere was enabled to raise their voice through the help of information technology and made the law look silly and made Julian Assange an important public figure.The growth of mass media along with the growing complexity of political tensions in the 20th century established the emergence of WikiLeaks where the governments were trying to demolish the authenticity of the organization but the organization grew incrementally due to the vast public support it received. Therefore, WikiLeaks helped to diversify the usage of information technology where it enabled the users of the social media platforms to raise their voices, share their opinions and help achieve a wider database of users through which the public sphere was made more aware of the tensions that were predominant within the various economies (Munro, 2016a). In the initial stages of the technological advancements, the general population lacked a sense of radical message and limited resources through which the public was reluctant to enhance the usage of such innovative technologies (Gill and Spirling, 2015). The public sphere slowly became aware of the capabilities that the information technology possessed and aimed to breach out of the radical ghetto of the normative print media as technology helped the general population to connect with each other on a drastic scale and the opinions of such populations could be showcased on a global scale (Munro, 2016b).WikiLeaks enabled the general population to cater to a form of intensified freedom of speech through the internet where the idea was basically simple; movements and people which helps the democracies over the various nations to achieve a deeper sense of concreteness. Such drastic steps incorporated by the organization enabled the common people to adhere to a sense of reliance as they turned to a new phenomenon through technology that helps the common people to showcase what is right and what is wrong.

The indestructible publishing of WikiLeaks posed certain sharp questions towards the governments of authoritarian states. The governments became aware that the emergence of WikiLeaks would highlight the destruction of various shell companies and organizations that were closely associated with various governmental reforms and policies(The Guardian, 2011). WikiLeaks even exposed the unethical activities of an American organization known as Enron that operated in the electricity and power sector. The company provided electricity services for American households and the workers of the organization were forced to increase their net revenues earned. The management of the company established various shell companies and subsidiaries that existed only on paper and this paved the way for the downfall of public image and bankruptcy of one of the wealthiest companies in the world (Assange, 2015b). For the first time, the government and judicial system of America appreciated the loopholes showcased by WikiLeaks which helped the country to save them from being part of one of the major conspiracies that could have sunk the entire market capitalization. WikiLeaksused technology to strong-arm various whistleblowers within the management of Enron and this helped the individuals to do the right and ethical thing towards preserving the integrity of the nation (Brevini, 2017). The whistleblowers came across certain sealed and classified information through WikiLeaks that enabled them to raise a voice against the dirty corporate patriarchy which prevailed in the country and this helped the common people to look upon their daily aspects of lives and question whether they are a part of an ethical or unethical organization and this was significantly a result of the emergence of the technological advancements that the world noticed over the years (Heemsbergen, 2015).

Roles of various stakeholders, including NGOs and other civil society actors in the formation of public policy
The general population were able to use technology in their own way, contact other individuals on a global scale and get access to information in an effective and efficient manner through which the public sphere engaged in the formation of various collaborative approaches such as NGOs (Firmino, 2018). The public sphere now catered to a new outlook where such NGOs and governmental organizations possessed a viewpoint that if they want a free society then they need proper internet access. The general population wanted the political figures to know their thoughts and opinions over the authoritative and patriarchal governments where technology was an effective tool through which certain political reforms and changes can be put into action (Moody, 2017). Technology is a particular tool through which the lower-middle-class people felt safe to share their thoughts and opinions and engage in political activities where they felt safe; the emergence of social media enabled the general population to criticize the government and the governments felt the need to issue statements that would not hurt the sentiments of the democracy (Selisker, 2018). The emergence of WikiLeaks helped the public sphere to gain access to classified and sensitive data that serve towards the effective interests of the society and the governments slowly started issuing public statements that would help preserve the population’s faith within the patriarchal system that existed. At that particular time, Hilary Clinton issued statements that were vague and aimed to restore the political tensions that existed and it somehow showed that the American government was trying to cover up a massive scandal that was bound to explode and the general population was not going to just sit on it through the public relations interviews that took place. The public relations interviews were a form of eyewash to the general population to divert the political landscape from being associated with any form of scandal that they might be indulged in (The Guardian, 2011). Countries such as India was not concerned at the initial stages of the emergence of WikiLeaks as the government was willing to put up four million documents issued in public interests via the internet that showed how certain governments were trying to implement reforms that would help the general population (Munro, 2016a).

Communication strategies that these stakeholders employ
The basic form of communication tactics that stakeholders such as NGOs and the federal government employ are the public relation interviews on mass media. WikiLeaks emergence made the government look weak and vulnerable for which the government needed to restore faith back in the common mindset of the general population whereas the NGOs were looking to strong-arm the government into provide relief measures towards the general population (Tidy, 2017). The interviews posed with certain contradictory statements that allowed the general population to analyze the files uploaded by WikiLeaks and make arguments whether the federal governments were actually involved in unethical activities or it was an inside job through which the integrity of the nations were threatened (Selisker, 2018). Hence, the government and the NGOs were working hand in hand to establish a two-way communications system where the public opinion could be showcased and the federal system had a say regarding the accusations which were made against them by WikiLeaks. This essentially means that the NGOs could use the voice of the general population over the internet to indulge in various petitions through which the general populations could be facilitated by the statements issued by the governments.

Employ theoretical frameworks to analyze political communication
The normative political theory can be applied to the aforementioned measures adhered to by the various governments where the governments were trying to explore the values and ideologies that the general population catered to towards the political systems of their respective countries (Shane et al., 2017). Over the past decade, the various developments in the fields of mass media and communications have changed the nature of the public sphere where individuals are able to share their thoughts and opinions on a global scale. Today’s public sphere exceeds beyond the tangible spaces of information and now it includes various virtual platforms where a form of a two-way flow of communications can be established (Shaneet al., 2017). This particular two-way flow of communication has been a crucial aspect of the general population’s common mindset. If a particular government publishes information but does not listen to the general population then the system is about a face huge chaos and instances of conflict that paves the way for a stronger establishment of a democratic system in the political structures of various nations across the globe (Nance, 2016).Technological advancements have catered tothe emergence of new media where people can cater to innovative forms to interact with people and technology and this relationship between the people and communication tools enables the community to meet their basic needs for information, communication, and networking systems (Sorell, 2015).

WikiLeaks was the beginning of something new through which the general population found a way to raise their voice against corruption through the help of technology and social media. When WikiLeaks published classified data, the governments were turning to public relations interviews which were evasive and somewhat subjective towards the democracies. Technology helped the world to convert itself into a global village where information can be shared on a global scale and this was the beginning of a new era through which people could empower themselves towards the greater good. Now, social media has become one of the most important aspects of presidential campaigns where they can cater to a wide set of audiences as technology helps to bring them together. WikiLeaks not only influenced the public opinions but it also reminded the governments that they needed to adhere to a safer approach in dealing with scandals as the more they tried to deny them, the general population would become furious and lose their faith in the governmental systems. This essay discusses the key aspects of how technology can influence the public sphere through a case study of WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks showed the world that the information systems need to be open-ended where the general population is not blindsided by the fact that governments engage in shady activities and they should engage in diversified public discussions and opinions though which they can implement the emergence of communications and media strategies towards the greater good within various societies across the world. The emergence of artificial intelligence has paved the way for Big Data analytics programs where basic information of the users of social media can be harnessed.This meant that various organizations can now access certain crucial information of internet users through which various data analytics reports can be generated in terms of hours of internet use, most visited sites and customer buying patterns over the internet. Such information should be used for research and educational purposes where the governments have a key role to play upon setting up necessary measures that protect people through technology.

Assange, J. (2015a). Introduction: WikiLeaks and empire. The WikiLeaks files: The world according to US empire, 1-19.

Assange, J. (2015b). Quando o Google encontrou o Wikileaks.Boitempo Editorial. Assange, J. (2015c). The WikiLeaks files: the world according to US empire. Verso Books. Brevini, B. (2017). WikiLeaks: Between disclosure and whistle?blowing in digital times. Sociology Compass, 11(3), e12457.

Firmino, R., Melgaço, L., &Kloza, D. (2018).The spatial bonds of WikiLeaks. Government Information Quarterly, 35(3), 389-397.

Gill, M., &Spirling, A. (2015). Estimating the severity of the wikileaks us diplomatic cables disclosure. Political Analysis, 299-305.

Heemsbergen, L. J. (2015). Designing hues of transparency and democracy after WikiLeaks: Vigilance to vigilantes and back again. new media & society, 17(8), 1340-1357.

Ioffe, J. (2017). The Secret Correspondence Between Donald Trump Jr. and WikiLeaks. The Atlantic.

Meskell, L. (2020). World Heritage and WikiLeaks: Territory, Trade and Temples on the Thai-Cambodian Border. Heritage as Aid and Diplomacy in Asia, 17.

Moody, P. (2017). Embassy cinema: what WikiLeaks reveals about US state support for Hollywood. Media, Culture & Society, 39(7), 1063-1077.

Munro, I. (2016a). Organizational resistance as a vector of deterritorialization: The case of WikiLeaks and secrecy havens. Organization, 23(4), 567-587.

Munro, I. (2017b). Whistle-blowing and the politics of truth: Mobilizing ‘truth games’ in the WikiLeaks case. Human Relations, 70(5), 519-543.

Nance, M. (2016). The plot to hack America: How Putin's cyberspies and WikiLeaks tried to steal the 2016 election. Simon and Schuster.

Pegg, S., & Berg, E. (2016). Lost and found: The WikiLeaks of de facto state–great power relations. International Studies Perspectives, 17(3), 267-286.

Selisker, S. (2018). The Novel and WikiLeaks: Transparency and the Social Life of Privacy. American Literary History, 30(4), 756-776.

Shane, S., Rosenberg, M., &Lehren, A. W. (2017).WikiLeaks releases trove of alleged CIA hacking documents. New York Times.

Sorell, T. (2015). Human rights and hacktivism: the cases of Wikileaks and anonymous. Journal of Human Rights Practice, 7(3), 391-410.

The Guardian, 2011.WikiLeaks: The Guardian's role in the biggest leak in the history of the world.Retrieved from: [Accessed October 11, 2020]

Tidy, J. (2017). Visual regimes and the politics of war experience: Rewriting war ‘from above’inWikiLeaks’‘Collateral Murder’. Review of international studies, 43(1), 95-111.


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