Anonymous Off to a Rocky Start With Journalists

The hackers say they're working with the media on NewsCorp.

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Anonymous and LulzSec seem a little unsure of what kind of organizations they wants to become. They've recently been endorsing an "online radio experience" called Radio Payback. They also put out a call for artist contributions. And they're reportedly working with newspapers on investigative journalism.

Confirming many hypotheses that they fancied themselves another WikiLeaks, LulzSec announced Thursday: "We're currently working with certain media outlets who have been granted exclusive access to some of the News of the World emails we have." Given the overlap between the groups' members, it's not unreasonable to guess that batch of data also includes the purported four gigabyte cache of emails from The Sun, including those of recently disgraced former News Corp. executive Rebekah Brooks. The new cooperative approach, if it pans out, could spell mean a different, more impact-oriented future for the two groups normally known to do things "for the lulz." Naturally, the pivot also leaves a couple questions up in the air. As one blogger wondered, "When did LulzSec grow up?" The obvious follow-up would be, "Who are they working with on their new grown up project?"

Joe Pompeo at Yahoo contacted the likely suspsects: The Guardian and The New York Times. As the two leading papers that have worked with WikiLeaks and have stayed out in front of the phone hacking story, it would make great sense that Anonymous would reach out to them first. Not so, says Pompeo:

[Guardian editor] Rusbridger was out of the office Friday, as was Keller (perhaps there's tete-a-tete in progress?), but the Guardian chief forwarded The Cutline's email to a spokeswoman for the newspaper, who said, "We're not one of the media outlets in question and we have not been approached." Keller, through a Times spokeswoman, replied: "We have had no contact" with LulzSec.

In fact, LulzSec is picking fights with journalists. Thursday afternoon, one Anonymous leader known as Sabu turned aggressive with Guardian technology editor Charles Arthur on Twitter. Arthur was trying to gather information for his story on Anonymous and LulzSec's decision not to release the News Corp. emails to the public. Refusing to grant Arthur an interview, Sabu went on to taunt the journalist in dozens of tweets. LulzSec at one point tweeted Arthur's cell phone number to their nearly 350,000 followers. They later deleted the tweet and other jeers, but only after extracting a stern warning from Arthur. "A word to the wise," said Arthur, the apparent grown-up in the room. "It is a bad idea to make enemies of journalists."

Arthur later deleted that tweet and a few others related to the spat. Maybe the journalist and the hackers made up, and maybe they're secretly working together. We probably won't get a clear understanding of the famously duplicitous groups' work with journalists in the near future, but we definitely know one thing in the wake of the past day's odd jumble of events. Hackers love dance music.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said that Anonymous recently launched Radio Payback. In fact, Radio Payback has been around for almost a year and claims no official affiliation with Anonymous.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.