Wikileaks Tries Auctioning Off Leaked Documents

from the interesting-experiment dept

We've been talking about the variety of new and different business models springing up around investigative reporting, and here's another interesting take on the matter. Wikileaks, the site that's become rather infamous for publishing all sorts of leaked documents is experimenting with auctioning off the latest set of documents its received (in this case, emails from the Venezuelan government). Wikileaks will publish the emails itself eventually, but wants to offer a news organization a chance at the exclusive rights to publish the initial stories on the documents, seeing that as a way to raise money to keep Wikileaks going.

As the folks at Wikileaks point out, it's not all that different than various tabloids paying millions of dollars for "exclusive" photos of some celebrity's new baby. However, with newspapers struggling with their own business models, it's unclear who's really going to cough cash up to get exclusive access to these documents. Also, this model runs all sorts of risks: what if the emails don't really reveal that much of interest? Then you're going to have a pissed off buyer. Plus, the whole obsession with "exclusive" news stories is pretty silly. You can't own the news, and while being first on a story may gain some initial traffic, other news sources will pick up the story pretty quickly themselves.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 28th, 2008 @ 9:38am

    Are they splitting the profits with the leaker?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Joel Coehoorn, Aug 28th, 2008 @ 10:08am

    closer to the matter

    I wonder if a 3 month reprieve might be worth something to Hugo Chavez himself? Or perhaps his opponents will gain something from making sure the material is more widely available faster?

    The information is surely worth something to somebody. It will be interesting to see how much.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 28th, 2008 @ 10:21am

    Um, I guess you're not aware of this, despite the fact that you write frequently about the media business and profess knowledge of it, but MSM organizations have taken a principled stand of not paying for information, leaked or not. Now you can argue the merits of this -- National Enquirer paid for info on Edwards and they scooped more traditional papers -- but that principled stand has helped maintain the integrity of newspapers and made their reporting generally more reliable than those willing to do shortcuts with shady characters.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    Mike (profile), Aug 28th, 2008 @ 10:24am

    Re:

    Um, I guess you're not aware of this, despite the fact that you write frequently about the media business and profess knowledge of it, but MSM organizations have taken a principled stand of not paying for information, leaked or not.

    Yes, I know that, but that's why this story is interesting -- to see if anyone bites. I doubt they will, but we'll see. And, no one said that they're just offering this to MSM publications. They're offering it to anyone.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    CastorTroy-Libertarian, Lover, General Annoyance f, Aug 28th, 2008 @ 12:41pm

    Re:

    "but that principled stand has helped maintain the integrity of newspapers and made their reporting generally more reliable than those willing to do shortcuts with shady characters"

    Integrity....absolutely funny, our Media America is so slanted I am beginning to think the Enquirer has more, at least they are honest they do it!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    crystalattice (profile), Aug 28th, 2008 @ 7:43pm

    Buyer's remorse

    "what if the emails don't really reveal that much of interest?"

    Caveat emptor. That's always the case when it comes to "news", or most other things, for that matter.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 29th, 2008 @ 2:06pm

    Plus, the whole obsession with "exclusive" news stories is pretty silly.
    It's the way news organizations count coup amongst themselves, by claiming "first" and "exclusive". Of course the customers, silly things that they are, only care about "timely" and "accurate."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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