NPR logo

In Leak, An Upstart Joins Forces With Old Media

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/128789544/128789589" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
In Leak, An Upstart Joins Forces With Old Media

Around the Nation

In Leak, An Upstart Joins Forces With Old Media

In Leak, An Upstart Joins Forces With Old Media

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/128789544/128789589" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Wikileaks, the organization that leaked documents related to the Afghan war, coordinated the release with The New York Times, Der Spiegel and the Guardian. Sree Sreenivasan, professor of digital media at Columbia Journalism School, offers his insight.

RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

Sree Sreenivasan teaches journalism at Columbia. He says he understands why a new media outfit would want to share this story with the old media.

SREE SREENIVASAN: And at the same time, I think you're also seeing that even with all the work that the Times and the others have put into this, it's still hard to kind of pick it apart and kind of understand what all of this means immediately. But imagine without the Times putting in the effort.

MONTAGNE: Yes. In other words, you throw 90,000 pages on the Web. It's almost like dumping it.

SREENIVASAN: That's right. I mean, it was a dump but this was a dump that was smartly done to engage journalists with far more resources.

MONTAGNE: So, is this a change in the way old and new media might relate to each other?

SREENIVASAN: And seeing where this is going to go, I think the next big story that they do, they may decide that it's worth working with a news organization or they'll do it on their own, but they have that flexibility.

MONTAGNE: Well, if it's going to end up in the New York Times, why would a person in possession of these classified field reports not just go directly to the New York Times? I mean, we've gotten to the point where it's a comfort level with the Web?

SREENIVASAN: That's certainly one aspect of it. There are lots of places like Wikileaks or Drudge Report or any of these places that are set up so that people can send them stuff. Eliminate the middleman, just get it out there. A place like Wikileaks becomes a clearinghouse. They think that at least it to be a clearinghouse, a place where people want to listen to things that are not maybe as sourced as more traditional places would like.

MONTAGNE: Is Wikileaks prepared to sort through the sort of information that it gets, because clearly somebody could have an agenda. There could be some, you know, serious national security interests at stake here. Is it able even to sort through, and from what you know, are they even attempting to do that?

SREENIVASAN: Because we have seen, in many cases, when things are just excerpted and you get played by people with an agenda, then your own credibility goes down. And we've seen that with mainstream news organizations as well. So, making sure that they make that effort is going to be critical to their future success in just being taken seriously whenever they have a big blockbuster.

MONTAGNE: Sree Sreenivasan is professor of digital media at Columbia University's School of Journalism. Thanks very much for joining us.

SREENIVASAN: Thanks for having me.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MONTAGNE: This is NPR News.

Copyright © 2010 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.