Snowden and the Old v. New Struggle

To be on the same page as New Media on Snowden, old media have ultimately found a hybrid way to be old and new at the same time. For instance, The Guardian, a British print newspaper, has an online website, a Facebook and a Twitter as well. This Newspaper as an online version based in New York named Guardian US. Almost 650,000 people follow Guardian US, and these followers are more active on videos that are posted between 9 am and 12 pm.  This company released a video on their Facebook page  on September 14 of an interview of Snowden where he discusses not only why he should be pardoned and why Trump’s mass surveillance is dangerous:


This video had more than 300,000 views and almost 2,000 shares but less than 100 comments. Although there are not many comments as expected, there are more like a forum discussion where supporters and opponents argue against each other. While Tom Kennedy and Dave Ehrlichman claimed that Snowden is a hero and that everybody has the right to privacy, others people like Ron French argue that people forfeit their privacy when they sign up for social media:


Al Jazeera is a Network company from Qatar that is implemented in many countries. Al Jazeera English, the English version of this TV, also has a Facebook page like The Guardian. 8,000,000 people follow this page, and the followers tend to be more active on links posted between 6 and 9 am. On September 16, the company post on their Facebook page that Snowden was a “Genuine American hero” while sharing the link to an article from the US Congress report saying that Snowden was not a whistle-blower. This post had more than 240 shares, 120 comments and was like by more than 2800 users:



To understand if the likes were related to the actual post supporting Snowden or to the article, it was important to that a look at the article itself. The article is not directly related to the post at all. The article is more about the congress investigation which claimed that Snowden is not a whistle-blower but a liar. Some evidence shows that Snowden had some issues at his job before the leaking. According to the report, he was not entirely honest in his CV too. The article is also incorporated tweets from what is believed to be Snowden personal Twitter account. Here again, supporters and opponents are radical in their opinion. For example, Eve Klein’s comment was fascinating because she explained that before the leaking, she had no idea that the government was spying on her without any court order:


On the other hand, Nick Stivacas states that Hilary Clinton should also have a trial:


He even goes further by saying that Snowden exposed a crime, so there is no reason for him to be considered as a criminal. This comment catches the attention because it has the most replies (11) and the most like (185). Here again, the war between democrats and republicans is back.


On the other hand, As mentioned before in the posts analyzing Edward Snowden as a threat, if anyone has taken an adversarial or oppositional stance to him, it has been “old media.” Newspapers in particular (The Washington Post) have taken vague stances against him. It would seem that this has something to do with the interplay between old media and new media, which allows an old media format to get immediate feedback and gauge the public’s reaction to a work. This, I can only theorize, has in many ways negotiated the stances that many writers and journalists take on topics. To see this, we can look at the Washington Post’s article from last post, and the reaction, even within the newspaper.

Not only did they retract their position five days later, there were several different articles published within the paper, indicating members of the editorial board who disagreed with the boards decision to publish that piece. The “Letters to the Editor” format has become a little outmoded, and in its use in the position change article was more, I believe for effect than anything else. With the online format most newspapers focus on, comment sections allow for immediate public feedback. This along with the metrics of shares and likes on facebook could easily have persuaded folks at WaPo to change their stance.

It is interesting to note that the WaPo article “No pardon for Edward Snowden” was not shared or published on any of the Washington Post’s social media. The discussion on social media came after multiple other sources began reporting, and posting it. I find this interesting, because it raises the question as to whether The Washington Post was aware of the “Pro-Snowden” bias that social media tends to have.

As it seems to be the trend to publish editorial pieces on Snowden, the LA Times has published a piece in a similar vein, telling the world they believe the right thing to do would be to pardon Snowden—or at least they make the case that he should be treated leniently, as his case is nuanced, and was ultimately done for the good of the people. Their pro-Snowden editorial piece, however, was met with some uncertainty in their comments section. The most upvoted comment on the thread reads: “I disagreed with the Patriot Act from the start, but Snowden must be prosecuted for revealing secrets completely unrelated to it. He willingly gave that information to our adversaries and enemies.” The most liked comment beneath the corresponding posting of the article on the LA Times facebook page went into detail about the conspiracy theory of the CIA distributing Crack in poor black neighborhoods to systematically kill “an entire generation.” which again plays into the idea tying “pro-Snowden” fans to a favorable view of conspiracy theories. What I can’t seem to figure out is if this is the type of feedback that old media organizations respond to? Or is this a vast wasteland of people talking into space?





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