This list is an attempt to honor those individuals and institutions responsible for exemplary reportage and awareness-raising in 2010. It is aggregated from the suggestions of PULSE writers and editors and is comprised of journalists, editors and publishers who have shown a commitment to challenging power, holding it to account, highlighting issues pertaining to social justice and producing output that bucks conventional wisdom and encourages critical thinking. (Also check our Top 10 Global Thinkers of 2010)
2010 was the year of Wikileaks. From the antiseptic cruelty of the Apache attack on Iraqi civilians, the matter-of -fact entries of routine horrors recorded in the Afghan and Iraq war logs, to the locker-room candour of the US State Department diplomatic cables, Wikileaks has laid bare the casual attrition that sustains empires. Behind it all is Julian Assange, an enterprising, politically savvy, and morally upstanding individual who has shown the transformative potential of new media, which, through courage and imagination, could be made to serve as a check even on a hyper-power. By leveraging the mainstream media’s need for exclusives, Assange has ensured the broadest possible audience for his revelations. True, Assange is not Wikileaks, but from listening to the statements of his defecting colleagues–who fault him for needlessly confronting a superpower when he should have been concerned with building his institution–we are convinced that without someone as assertive and clear-headed as Assange, Wikileaks would have ended up as yet another web project with interesting information, infrequently cited, but with none of the amplification that it currently enjoys.
A rare critical voice in the mainstream media, particularly during George W. Bush’s reign, Helen Thomas was the first woman officer of the National Press Club, the first woman member and president of the White House Correspondents Association and the first woman member of the Gridiron club. Her career as one of history’s gutsiest female US press corp reporters was ended in her 90th year after some off-the-cuff comments she made to a roving rabbi with a camcorder were made public. She later apologized for her words, citing her “heart-felt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance.” While Thomas was attacked from all fronts, she was also defended by progressive media figures like Real News Founder Paul Jay who directed attention to the “hyper-pro-Israel lobby” which was just waiting for an opportunity to silence Thomas, and progressive American Jews like Medea Benjamin who stated on camera: “We should look at the 50+ year record of a very probing journalist and insightful commentator and not look at a 30 second soundbite.” Even the Washington Post felt compelled enough by Thomas’s outstanding legacy to allow The Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel to bring attention to Thomas’s “legendary career” as a “a trailblazer for women journalists.”