You tweeted 'think #wikileaks is more about the facilitation of real-time history documentation than journalism...' Care to elaborate?

The tweet in question, dated 28/11/2010 - the day the diplomatic cables were publicized - concludes: 'thus, it redefines journalism.' I'm asking whether @chanders is inclined to extend this high-stakes reflection beyond the 140 character limit.
asked almost 4 years ago


I'll try, and I'll try to be brief. I think one of the general (very general) characteristics of journalism as a professional activity is its focus on the "signal event." In other words, on the meaningful, important, unexpected, or just plain bizarre event that happened in the very recent past (cliche: news is what's new). This sometimes leads professional press analysts to criticize journalism for its shallowness, triviality, or its "hamster wheel" like behavior. This is not always the way journalism is, but it often unfolds this way.

With all three big Wikileaks document dumps, we've seen the press almost forced into focusing on the broader texture of daily life. Either daily life in the war zone, or the "daily life" of the State Department. This is a change. There are no major signal events here, though we can also find them after the fact, once we have analyzed the documents completely.

So, to the degree that journalism is forced to deal with a simultaneously more large-scale but less dramatic series of cables or reports, the nature of what journalism is changes. Maybe not permanently, but a little. I think that Wikileaks only dramatizes what is happening in journalism in general, in this manner, with the rise of statistical analysts like Nate Silver of 538 and the growth of data journalism in general.
answered almost 4 years ago

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