This is a fascinating piece in the New York Times about the Power of Wikileaks, The Press and who changes whom in the process of publicizing the diplomatic documents of the US’s State Department.
It also underscores the fact that while digital is powerful by itself, the message gets even more powerful if the traditional media is used/enlisted as well.
The point being made here is that Wikileaks would not have made it so bag this time around in terms of exposure if it did not manipulate/use the traditional press effectively, adding legitimacy and credibility to itself. Many a lesson here for the PR practitioner.
December 12, 2010
WikiLeaks Taps Power Of the PressBy DAVID CARR
Has WikiLeaks changed journalism forever?
Perhaps. Or maybe it was the other way around.
Think back to 2008, when WikiLeaks simply released documents that suggested the government of Kenya had looted its country. The follow-up in the mainstream media was decidedly muted.
Then last spring, WikiLeaks adopted a more journalistic approach — editing and annotating a 2007 video from Baghdad in which an Apache helicopter fired on men who appeared to be unarmed, including two employees of Reuters. The reviews were mixed, with some suggesting that the video had been edited to political ends, but the disclosure received much more attention in the press.
In July, WikiLeaks began what amounted to a partnership with mainstream media organizations, including The New York Times, by giving them an early look at the so-called Afghan War Diary, a strategy that resulted in extensive reporting on the implications of the secret documents.
Then in November, the heretofore classified mother lode of 250,000 United States diplomatic cables that describe tensions across the globe was shared by WikiLeaks with Le Monde, El Pais, The Guardian and Der Spiegel. (The Guardian shared documents with The New York Times.) The result was huge: many articles have come out since, many of them deep dives into the implications of the trove of documents.
Notice that with each successive release, WikiLeaks has become more strategic and has been rewarded with deeper, more extensive coverage of its revelations. It’s a long walk from WikiLeaks’s origins as a user-edited site held in common to something more akin to a traditional model of publishing, but seems to be in keeping with its manifesto to deliver documents with “maximum possible impact.”