Imagine If The NY Times Had Ignored Wikileaks Cables

from the how-would-that-have-looked dept

Yesterday, Senator Joe Lieberman said that the NY Times should be "investigated" for publishing articles with some content from the State Department's leaked cables. In response,one of the reporters, who worked on the articles about the Wikileaks release, David Sanger, points out the obvious: how would it have looked if the NY Times ignored the story:
"The Times knew that this material was going to be out there anyway. We didn't get the initial leak," he says. "If we had done nothing — if we had ignored it -- I think it would have looked strange. I think that also would have been irresponsible. It is the responsibility of American journalism, back to the founding of this country, to get out and try to grapple with the hardest issues of the day and to do it independently of the government."
Sanger also notes that the role of reporting in such cases is to try to put that information in context:
"We had to explain how this changed America's position in the world," he says. "Just as in the publication of the Pentagon Papers decades ago, when we had to explain how those documents, which also leaked, enabled us to understand very differently a war that America was in very deeply."
This is an important point, though I think he overplays how much people actually relied on the NY Times reporting for such info. There are some folks out there who say that "Wikileaks isn't journalism" but I agree with Mathew Ingram that Wikileaks is absolutely a media entity. It's just that, as with other areas of other industries, the roles may be shifting. Wikileaks gets data out there and then anyone can help add the context. That seems a lot more valuable than the traditional gatekeeper system where we only get to hear what the gatekeepers want us to hear.

Either way, having the NY Times ignore the story because Senator Lieberman doesn't like it would have looked a hell of a lot more questionable than it doing its job as a part of the press and actually reporting on the info that's out there.
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Filed Under: journalism, wikileaks
Companies: ny times, wikileaks


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  1. icon
    Bruce Ediger (profile), 9 Dec 2010 @ 9:40am

    NYT would like like they did on the NSA wiretaps

    If the NYT had ignored WikiLeaks Cables, they would look exactly like they did when they sat on the NSA wiretapping story (apparently at the behest of the NSA, http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/4/21/722691/-Rep.-Harman-lobbied-NYT-to-spike-wiretapping-story-a t-Bushs-behest).

    They would look like servile lapdogs of authority.

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