Column : Did the earth move for you?
To some extent, the arc of the WikiLeaks story reflects the nature of the public’s attention-span in an era of instant and ever-changing information. Very few people are able or willing to sustain interest in a lengthy series of investigative stories about multiple countries, and humans have always preferred gossip anyway. But the rapid rise and fall of WikiLeaks also tells us something else: the rules of the information game have not really changed.
Despite its fresh methods and its promise of radical openness, WikiLeaks’s early releases were almost completely unnoticed before it linked up with newspapers in Europe and the US for its Afghan war leaks earlier this year. The group’s first serious coup (in 2007) was its release and analysis of a sizeable set of documents detailing almost the complete US military procurement chains for the Iraq and Afghan wars, a sizeable scoop for a news organisation of any size. But almost no one noticed it. Without the muscle (and staff hours) of the mainstream media, the same might have been true of the Afghanistan, Iraq and embassy cables leaks.
The world’s major newspapers have taken
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