Exploring Resilience via Lifes Burning Issues

Category: corporate social responsibility

The Most Irking Fact about the Wikileaks saga

The most irking fact about the Wikileaks saga - Julian Assange  image by Abode of Chaos @flickr

Big interests trampling on the "little guy"?

What is the most irking fact about the Wikileaks saga……..

The Wikileaks Players

Wikileaks has been very clear about the fact that it has partnered with a number of the worlds leading media organisations (NY Times etc) and that these organisations are directly  involved in vetting the material specifically to avoid some of the charges (endangerment of individuals etc)  levelled against Wikileaks…

Profiting without sacrifice

These media organisations are using the material to further their business interests and increase/maintain their readership and their positions as leading media outlets.

Extra-judicial attacks

Yet it is only Wikileaks and Julian Assange that have been subject to the ire of politicians and business interests and calls to shut them down, calls for them to be harrassed, intimidated, assassinated and subject to direct action to cut off access to funds etc…

Can you imagine the outrage if…

Why is it that politicians of various colours,  “powerful” interests (particularly right wing interests) in the US and elsewhere  are not calling on the Owners,  board chairman  or  CEO’s / Chief Editors of these large mainstream media organisations to face the same sanctions as those that they advocate for Wikileaks and Julian Assange? Can you imagine the uproar if an elected politician said in public that the Editor of the New York Times should be assassinated?

Ignoring the big collaborators, Why?

Why is it that organisations like Paypal, VISA, Mastercard, Amazon etc have acted directly at the behest of politicians to impose these sanctions against Wikileaks but don’t undertake the same actions against the large media organisations working in partnership/collaboration with Wikileaks?

Guilty of what exactly?

To date despite a lot of bluster Wikileaks has not been charged or found guilty of ANY offences in the US or elsewhere. It has acted as a media organisation and is simply exposing material leaked to it….

What if it had started with the big guys…

The reality is that the cache of diplomatic cables could have been delivered directly to the large mainstream media organisations  and those organisations could and would have used them. These media organisations often rely on leaks and whistleblowers to provide them with the material for their “scoops”…. would the same hysteria have occurred if this material was being released solely and exclusively by a large mainstream media outlet?

What are the big guys afraid of?

Would the same calls for extra-judicial sanctions be occurring? Would paypal/visa/mastercard/amazon etc come out and freeze accounts and deny access to these large mainstream media organisations just because a few senators urged them to because they were unhappy with something published in the NY Times etc…. unlikely

The most irking factor about this saga

The mosting irking factor about this saga is that it just stinks of attempts to trample on the little guy…. and the big mainstream media are complicit in this because they are benefitting immensely from the risk taking of the little guy and not highlighting the discrepancy in treatment of themselves as major players in the dissemination of the material…..

Is it just that big media interests and political interests and big business interests are TOO closely engaged to upset the apple cart, or is there some other underlying threat that the big business interests are afraid of? If it is because they are afraid of some action or potential action from Government then they should speak up about it…in the words of Thomas Jefferson..

“When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.”

Are even the extra-judicial sanctions too late?

Is the community outrage at the attacks on Wikileaks a signal that the world has/is shifting. Are Government and business responses  now a matter of trying to close the gate after the horse has bolted??


I am pleased to report that the Australian media has taken some action in regards the issue above….. with a letter being sent to the Australian Prime Minister by TV and Radio News Editors and the editors of almost every major Australian metropolitan newspaper.

The letter can be found in full here

In part the letter reads

The volume of the leaks is unprecedented, yet the leaking and publication of diplomatic correspondence is not new. We, as editors and news directors of major media organisations, believe the reaction of the US and Australian governments to date has been deeply troubling. We will strongly resist any attempts to make the publication of these or similar documents illegal. Any
such action would impact not only on WikiLeaks, but every media organisation in the world that aims to inform the public about decisions made on their behalf. WikiLeaks, just four years old, is part of the media and deserves our support.

and also reads:

It is the media’s duty to responsibly report such material if it comes into their possession. To aggressively attempt to shut WikiLeaks down, to threaten to prosecute those who publish official leaks, and to pressure companies to cease doing commercial business with WikiLeaks, is a serious threat to democracy, which relies on a free and fearless press.

The state of charity, cause related marketing and sustainability

charity, cause related marketing, corporate social responsibility, sustainabilityThe state of charity, cause marketing and sustainability – the start of the debate

I have recently been engaged in discussion with a national company regarding the issues of charity, cause marketing and sustainability.

It started with a post at the site Mumbrella dealing with a cause related marketing project that was undertaken by 1234 (a subsidiary of Sensis who are owned by Telstra). You can find the original Mumbrella post here.

I posted a comment because the story  struck a note with me.  What really caught my attention was the level of  return to the charity involved appearing to be out of proportion to the potential value of the use of their well deserved community image.

A great deal of commentary went back and forward between people on the site, including from members of the ad agency which produced the campaign, representatives of the charity involved in the campaign and representatives of 1234/Sensis. Some of this conversation was around the issues of what is cause related marketing vs sustainability vs corporate social responsibility and by default what constitutes charity.

I expressed my opinion as did quite a few others, with one of the consistent threads seeking some clarity about what the rationale behind the campaign.

In the comments I hope I was clear and transparent, and I declared my interest and the fact that I run another charity (which is the Samuel Morris Foundation if you are unfamiliar with me or this site).

A right of reply to 1234

Mumbrella provided 1234 an opportunity to respond directly with a quest post to set out the company position. An opportunity that they took up in the post why Sensis believes in the cause. You can make up your own mind about the quality of the “official” response from their communications manager.

Getting it right by the personal approach

What I found interesting and what I greatly appreciated was the personal response from Sensis’ head of sustainability.  Jillian reached out on a personal basis offering a direct line of contact and offering a discussion about the potential of undertaking a project with the Samuel Morris Foundation.

An exchange of emails and information took place and information about the Samuel Morris Foundation was circulated to the marketing teams  around the country within Sensis. The communication with the head of sustainability was friendly, efficient and very clear including explaining a number of items around Sensis’ strategic cycle in relation to choosing community partners etc.  

A win or a loss?

I suppose it is a question around any debate, but I don’t think this is a win/loss situation.

Ultimately the original cause related marketing  charity partner appears happy with the outcome of the project. Sensis/1234 have taken some positive action in relation to assisting in a social issue and a senior member of their team has reached out to a potential new partner on a personal basis and has helped make a number of people within her business aware of the work of a charity that they may otherwise not have heard about.

So while there may be some debate about the original project and some of its elements the important point is that Sensis has shown a commitment to working with community partners, something which a lot more business’ should be doing.

I think that on many levels this overall discussion has been a win/win.

what about charity, cause related marketing and sustainability?

They are really interesting things to think about and a lot can and has been said. I think however that this RSAnimate clip featuring work by philosopher  Slavoj Zizek and his thoughts on the surprising ethical implications of charitable giving says way more, far more eloquently than I ever could…

so if you are interested in the concepts of charity, cause related marketing, corporate social responsibility and sustainability take 11 minutes out of your life to watch this…