Will Wikileaks always need us?

Today, it needs newspaper journalists to make sense of these secret US government files, and the print product to share them with the world.

That Wikileaks has turned to print journalists is surely evidence that it is this section of the media that can be trusted to deliver when real journalism is required – not websites, bloggers and other Net artisans, or TV and radio newsrooms.

For how long will Wikileaks need newspapers?

That’s difficult to say, of course. The world’s major newspapers, including the Sydney Morning Herald in this region, have given Wikileaks such credibility and commercial potential it must surely be capable of building its own capacity for quality journalism.

“That scenario is hard to believe but the buzz around Wikileaks is compelling”

If it is a true child of the internet, however, Wikileaks will seek domination through collaboration. That’s the way the world turns these days.

Society needs newspapers to hold those in public office accountable. Let’s not ignore what newspaper journalists have done in the last couple of weeks with Wikileaks. They have checked facts and given context to thousands of documents that would otherwise be seemingly meaningless.

I’ve read some ridiculous comments about how Wikileaks, with its minimal staffing numbers, has done more than all the journalists put together to reveal the truths of what is said in the corridors of political power. That’s not so much the miracle of Wikileaks but of the Internet.

Rupert Murdoch once told the Chinese that the Net would be an irresistible force for democratisation

“Editors love nothing more than to tell the stark truth of our world”

Who would have thought that its greatest impact – to this point, at least – has been on democratically-elected governments, not the communists in Beijing?

Nevertheless, the impact of how these secret files have surfaced must surely give newspaper editors cause to ponder their own perceived role as a guardian of society; a watchdog over the integrity of democratic political process and leadership.

One must consider the possibility that Wikileaks – and other sites that must surely follow – will take this role in the medium to long term.
Yet the public would have to move their trust from traditional media – about which they’re not usually complimentary – to websites that are happy to republish secret government files and put them online regardless of the consequences.

That scenario is hard to believe but the buzz around Wikileaks is compelling.

Not everyone is happy with Wikileaks, though. It appears many of the Herald’s “scoops” have come from documents that have not yet been released on the web.

This would appear to run counter to the generally understood egalitarian philosophy of Wikileaks; that documents in its possession are for everyone to read.

Editors love nothing more than to tell the stark truth of our world, and reveal the reality rather than rattle off the political spin of how our countries are run.

But how will they react if they’re not the ones telling it first?

PS. Is it right that newspapers around the world plaster their Wikileaks stories with the label “Exclusive” . . . isn’t it Wikileaks that has the exclusive

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