by Evan Sernoffsky
News can be told in a variety of ways. When a real human being is attached to a local, national or even global issue it makes the story more relevant to everyday people. By profiling an individual—capturing their essence, setting a scene, giving a background to their life—a story comes alive because the story is a living breathing human being.
Recently the website Wikileaks has gained considerable attention because it leaked the Afghan War Diary (AWD), “an extraordinary compendium of over 91,000 reports covering the war in Afghanistan from 2004 to 2010.” (wikileaks.com) This event is being described as the biggest expose on American war policy since the Pentagon Papers came out detailing the Vietnam War in the 1970’s.
The Guardian, a UK based news organization, profiled the Wikileaks founder, Jullian Assange, and captured the essence of a recent headline maker in remarkably few words. This article was very relevant because it describes Assange, relays the importance of the current controversy through his story, and gives insight into the changing framework of journalism throughout the world.
In Julian Assange profile: Wikileaks founder an uncompromising rebel, the man in question is described as a thinking man— a man of math and science. Nick Davies, the author of the piece takes this approach because he is not only painting a picture of a compelling individual; he is framing the story around what this man has accomplished. By giving insight into Assange’s mind, the reader gets to know who they are reading about on a very close level.
After Davies’ initial description of Assange, he goes into the relevance of why he is being profiled. This is extremely important because if there is no reason to profile a person, why do it? The reason is the current controversy about his Wikileaks makes his character that much more compelling. Davies then goes on to give some history to Assange’s life and work with his website. In giving a description of Assange’s early years Davies writes, “In his late teens, he says he was part of the computer underground, working on early versions of the internet, hacking into the email of the power elite.” This background to a compelling man gives the reader a crystal-clear image about the kind of man they are getting to know. It is more important for Davie’s to capture his character’s way of being than to detail his physical attributes.
For descriptions of Assange’s physicality, the reader needs only to look at the video that is attached to the article. This video corroborates the written content of the article and adds insight from the man himself. The article is short—perfect for the internet—and if a reader wants to understand Assange a little more, they can watch the video that accompanies it. Overall this profile is effective and uses the medium of the internet superbly.