Why WikiLeaks is Powerful – Primary Sources

If you hadn’t already seen Wikileaks Collateral Murder video – take a look.

I was fortunate to run into Jennifer 8. Lee today, a mover and shaker in the journalism entrepreneur world and she asked me what I thought.

My response: The reason this video and what WikiLeaks does is powerful is because of the nature of what they release. It’s a primary source document.

To illustrate this: In a comment thread I saw somebody try to attack the video: “Perhaps you should have taken the time to have a combat pilot review and analyze this footage.”

And indeed – no combat pilot is there to voice over and review/analyze the footage.

But that’s exactly the point!

The commenter was trying to imply that WikiLeaks had some kind of anti-military agenda. I obviously can’t speak for WikiLeaks but that’s just the point. They don’t speak much either in the video. There is some context given before the video begins, but the emphasis throughout is on the video itself. The primary source. It’s a video – directly in front of you. There is no pilot commentary, there is no commentary period. It’s just there for you to draw your own conclusions. The only accusation one can make is that the video is a forgery. Assuming it’s the real thing – then you have to take it for what your eyes show you.

Even if you question the ability of citizen journalists to replace professionals – most will agree that citizen journalists are better “witness reporters” than professionals if only because there are more of them and thus, they can witness more.

When a member of the public snaps a photo of a car crash or any other incident – it’s a primary source document.

WikiLeaks is powerful because it shows a greater potential for primary source moments – and for the ability of individuals to make an impact with those primary sources. In this case – it’s an individual with access to confidential material – but a single individual nonetheless.

Time for sleep.

3 thoughts on “Why WikiLeaks is Powerful – Primary Sources”

  1. That is true Daniel – they did edit it. It is incredibly light.

    They point out the two reporters who were slain and the link you point to is, I think rightfully so, miffed because they didn’t point out that we do identify an RPG and an AK of some kind.

    I did see those in the video as well (again, it’s a primary source) but the second WikiLeaks decided to highlight the reporter – they did step into the editing realm – that is true. I would hope they did this to clarify – but it inherently puts a value judgment in it – because they don’t point to the AK or RPG which is incredibly important context. I watched the video and picked up on this context – but perhaps others don’t recognize those weapons in the video – which is obviously important context.

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