By now, I am sure that everyone has heard of the Afghanistan War Logs Released by Wikileaks
. It's a huge story. There are over 90,000 classified field reports. These reports were sent to three publications months ago for review with the promise that they would wait to publish stories until after Wikileaks 'leaked' it.
These documents are raw field data. I also suspect that there really is very little new news to most of us that have been paying attention to the occupation in Afghanistan. For me the larger story is something that Jay Rosen said "In media history up to now, the press is free to report on what the powerful wish to keep secret because the laws of a given nation protect it. But Wikileaks is able to report on what the powerful wish to keep secret because the logic of the Internet permits it. This is new."
He goes on to say that no one seems to know what to do with this new way of presenting information. (the entire post is truly worth the read, btw).
Everyone seems to be all a twitter about these documents, and it appears to me that an awful lot of people are more upset that they missed this story than the potential of the story itself. That's what is interesting. Last October, wikileaks founder had this to say
"We will take the burden of protecting the source and the legal risks associated with publishing the document," said Julien Assange, an advisory board member at Wikileaks, in an interview at the Hack In The Box security conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Once Wikileaks confirms the uploaded material is real, it will be handed over to the Web site that encouraged the submission for a period of time. This embargo period gives the journalist or rights group time to write a news story or report based on the material.
The embargo period is a key part of the plan, Assange said. When Wikileaks releases material without writing its own story or finding people who will, it gains little attention.
"It's counterintuitive," he said. "You'd think the bigger and more important the document is, the more likely it will be reported on but that's absolutely not true. It's about supply and demand. Zero supply equals high demand, it has value. As soon as we release the material, the supply goes to infinity, so the perceived value goes to zero."
Many people are trying to figure out WHO leaked this information, and I am left wondering a larger question-- was this all leaked in this fashion JUST
to get people to pay attention? If that's the case, it worked. It's highly disturbing that people would have to go to such sensational ends to finally get truth out there. Life is different with a 24/7 news cycle and the internet, but that doesn't excuse media outlets from do the job of reporting real news as opposed perpetuating lies and propaganda.
The media has a chance now, especially after the Shirley Sherrod debacle to do the right thing, and instead of making a story out of the story-- they could focus on the long forgotten occupation. The real story here is how badly things are going, and it will be up to people to decipher these documents and put together a real news report.
The next trick will be to find a way to get the rest of America to take a chance and actually pay attention.