Me: The government is and has the capacity to watch our every move through massive surveillance programming and support from communications agencies. Everything you type, search, send, snap, post, record, call, and potentially think – if we become some sort of Orwellian fiction- is collected metadata that could potentially be used against you in every way.
Such is described as the reaction of millions of American citizens post-Snowden’s leak of classified NSA documents.
In the book Journalism after Snowden a somber look is taken into the steps journalist must now take in order to safely work with sources and do the jobs they were intended to do.
Snowden risked everything to inform the public of the intrusive practice of collecting data that the government was involved in. Mass cellular providers such as AT&T willingly cooperated with the NSA and gave records of users without ever letting their users know. This was just one disturbing report from the hundreds of files Snowden leaked.
Yet as startling as that was for some, the movement that was probably expected from the public didn’t end up happening. In fact, most people don’t really care that they are being watched or they don’t know.
This is a problem.
Not only does it pose new questions into privacy and even, the government’s role in democracy, it really stresses what a journalist does in situations like these.
The story was covered by many news organizations. The Guardian, New York Times, Washington Post, all of them. Glenn Greenwald, as well as Snowden, risked their lives and the lives of the people who were close to them because the story was so significant.
But to the degree of risk, there was a shockingly weak public response.
Though, I do not have an issue with the way it was reported necessarily, I do have to question what it means to uncover a story of this magnitude and make it count.
If you ask me, John Oliver did a fantastic job of making the story relevant (though through humor) to people.
Even though Greenwald went as far as educating himself on security measures in order to keep the story a secret, Oliver’s 20 some minute piece had more weight.
I think that journalists and citizens share equal responsibility. I think it is the journalist’s job to continue to push the story out there, and I think it is the citizen’s job to demand the government to change. If there isn’t a mutual understanding of this, which I do believe was lost in the Snowden leaks, then I begin to doubt the place that journalism holds in the near future.
This is not to say that nothing has become of Snowden’s efforts. And even I as a citizen have only recently come to terms with the significance of this story, but I worry that the risk journalists go through is not rewarded with the citizen response it deserves.