Wikileaks gave Afghan documents to journalists first to 'impart credibility'

The Guardian’sUS journalism academic Dan Kennedy, writing for The Guardian, today responded to the question of why Wikileaks gave The Guardian, New York Times and Der Spiegel special access to its cache of 92,000 documents on the war in Iraq – rather than releasing them to the whole world at the same time in its normal manner.

The three titles had a month’s headstart to work on the information.

Kennedy says: “WikiLeaks, with its singleminded focus on casting about for whistleblowers and protecting their identity through encryption and secrecy, can obtain material that eludes established news organisations. And professional journalists can vet, make sense of and impart credibility to that material in ways that not all new-media ventures (at least not WikiLeaks) can.

“The result is a powerful indictment of the war in Afghanistan – and a major challenge to Barack Obama.”

Simon Rogers has explained how The Guardian set about dealing with the documents, which he says it received in a huge excel file which was then turned into a database, and later turned into interactive maps.

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