University of North Texas communication studies professor available to discuss whistleblowers

Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - 16:05

As the court-martial continues for Bradley Manning, the U.S. soldier who was arrested in May 2010 and charged with passing classified national defense information to the website WikiLeaks, Edward Snowden, a National Security Agency contractor, has provided information on a classified NSA spy program that included collecting phone records of U.S. citizens. On Monday (June 17), Snowden, who fled the U.S. for Hong Kong, vowed to release more secrets about U.S. intelligence surveillance systems that he described as “nakedly, aggressively criminal.” He also denied spilling intelligence secrets to China in exchange for asylum. 

Brian Richardson, associate professor of communication studies at the University of North Texas, is available to discuss the motivations of whistleblowers. He is the co-author of a paper, “Private support, public alienation: Whistle-blowers and the paradox of social support,” that will be published in the Western Journal of Communication. He also co-wrote an article on whistleblowing about hazing by fraternities that was published last year in Communication Studies.

“It’s important to remember that many whistleblowers report wrongdoing, which is effectively addressed by their organizations, and the whistleblower faces no repercussions. It’s the more dramatic cases, which typically include retaliation against the whistleblower, that garner media headlines,” Richardson says.

He notes that by committing “truthtelling,” whistleblowers “often pay a steep price for their honesty.” Those who remain anonymous, he says, are generally not as effective as those who identify themselves because “people who attach their names to their whistleblowing efforts tend to have more credibility than those who do not.”

Richardson also says that the use of social media should lead to a steady rise in whistleblowing.

“People will be increasingly likely to expose wrongdoing via social media without taking the time to consider the ramifications of their actions,” he says.


Richardson may be reached via phone at 940-565-4748 or by e-mail at

UNT News Service
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