As usual, Dave Winer nails it.
I watched the Thursday night video feed of the Columbia panel on Wikileaks instead of going there in person. After trying to listen to Keller [Bill Keller, Executive Editor of the New York Times] on Fresh Air and giving up half-way through, in disgust — I just couldn’t imagine sitting through his schpiel about the social behavior problems (he perceives) of Julian Assange. I don’t care, and frankly I think it’s irresponsible of a person in Keller’s position to take the focus off the substance, which is so interesting and vital.
Yep. One of things that really struck me as a small-time bit player in coverage of the WikiLeaks story was how difficult it is to counteract a wrong-headed media narrative once it gets going. (We saw that earlier in the coverage of the BP oil-drilling catastrophe, btw.) On the day when I was interviewed by the BBC and other networks I was trying to say that Assange wasn’t the story — the big story was what WikeLeaks meant for governments everywhere. But even as I was being interviewed, Assange was heading for a British Court, and it was impossible to get any interviewer’s attention for the bigger picture. And it’s still going on: all this emphasis on Assange’s peculiarities. The Egyptian protestors are lucky that they haven’t thrown up a charismatic individual ‘leader’: if they had, we’d hear correspondingly less about what was actually going on.
But back to Dave:
He [Keller] also said he had never met Assange.
Amazing he has so much insight into the flaws of a man he had never met!
Maybe amazing isn’t the word…
Emily Bell, the interviewer, kept the discussion away from Assange’s socks, and got some very interesting things on the record from the panel. For the purposes of this story though, I’m only going to look at one new bit of info. Both the Times and the Guardian are thinking about replacing the technology of WikiLeaks with their own. Instead, imho they should be thinking about creating their own Twitters, platforms for their news people to congregate in realtime and mix with the members of their communities. Both organizations should be doing much more to cultivate community. And Twitter is much more of a threat to them than WikiLeaks.
It was so revealing when Keller said that his audience had moved to the Internet. Yes, but.. His sources have too. And there are so many more sources today than there were when we were growing up. It may be the biggest single change in the way news works.
Understanding the social aspect of news, and leading us with great information and gestalts — that’s what the Times and Guardian do best. It’s less important how the leaks make their way to their desks. News is now an environment, not a publication. It lives and breathes. That’s what the news orgs still haven’t been willing to embrace.