Dec 15, 2010

Fairfax to release WikiLeaks cables this afternoon

Fairfax Media struck a deal with WikiLeaks to simultaneously publish the cables it has relied upon for its series of impressive scoops by Phillip Dorling, but according to insiders, the controversial whistleblower website is yet to uphold its end of the bargain.

Andrew Crook — Former <em>Crikey</em> Senior Journalist

Andrew Crook

Former Crikey Senior Journalist

Fairfax Media struck a deal with WikiLeaks to simultaneously publish the raw cables it has relied upon for its series of impressive scoops by Philip Dorling, but according to newsroom insiders the whistleblower website is yet to uphold its end of the bargain.

The revelations, relayed to Crikey by a senior Age journalist, cast a new slant on complaints from other sections of the media that The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald had led readers astray by failing to air the Cablegate source documents for fear its commercial competitors would mine them for journalism gold.

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16 thoughts on “Fairfax to release WikiLeaks cables this afternoon

  1. botswana bob

    Fairfax may find access to its websites blocked by those lovers of free speech, the Amerikan government. THE GUARDIAN reports that the US Air Farce is blocking access to it and the NY TIMES. Apparently the Library of Congress is putting a bar on accessing WIKILEAKS.
    Looks like FREE SPEECH means you are free to fulsomely praise the U S Government. Do anything else, well that is what the Espionage Act is for.

  2. Clytie

    Hmm… I remember seeing a Wikileaks tweet early in the cables timeline saying journalists could contact them for access to the cables. Did the others not bother?

    Also, FYI Fairfax, I’m not a journalist, and I want to see the original materials. How do we know how accurate your analysis (or opinion) is if we can’t see the documents on which you base it?

  3. Angra

    Well this seems a bit strange to me. Sounds like cut-throat politics in the ‘meeja’ cos some sections have been frozen out of the scoop of the decade and are forcing Fairfax’s hand. If you were in possession of the Goose that laid the golden eggs, would you lend it to your competitors? Maybe Dorling should release the original cable alongside each story, but to dump the whole lot?

    On the other hand, spreading the source info around (which is what Wikileaks tried to do on an international level) kinda lessens the culpability of any one player and may be a benefit in the long run. After all is the US Gov willing to take on the whole Murdoch empire?

    Bit like the kid in the playground with the only signed portrait of Justin Bieber. He’s gonna get bullied to hell right?

  4. OD

    Its rot that the public are not interested in the cables that Fairfax drawing its stories from.
    Me too – I’ve been looking for them and twittering around asking where they are, ever since SMH started putting out their pieces this week.
    Glad that resolved. . . can move onto the next rant

  5. AR

    Wiki giving Mudorc’s empire access would be kinda inimical to the aim of honesty & openess wouldn’t it? It can’t even be trusted to print TV schedules without taint.

  6. freecountry

    Still stuck in the 20th century, chasing scoops. May as well be printing Zimbabwean dollars or selling coal to Newcastle. Information is confetti now. The competition is no longer other newspapers; as far as scoops go, the competition is the entire internet, which is bigger and more resourceful than all the world’s newspapers combined. That’s a competition the newspapers cannot win. The future belongs to those that can combine the information overload with real specialized knowledge in a variety of fields, and turn it all into something coherent.

  7. David Reid

    The text of cables are at:

    Fairfax have been too lazy to make any attempt to format or organise the cables. However, the contents are there for all to read and I suppose that is the most important thing.

  8. shepherdmarilyn

    Fairfax left out little tit bits like Beazley calling Hicks a ratbag and asking that he be released.

  9. anne1024

    At least their excuse is has got its own entertaining kind of logic.

    “…the agreement was that they would put the up concurrently with our stories and then we would put them up. Now for some reason they haven’t been putting them up and I suspect that’s because Assange has been otherwise occupied…but we felt uncomfortable putting the cables up if they hadn’t.

  10. freecountry

    Anne, Yes, isn’t that surreal. Fairfax don’t feel “uncomfortable” about the controversial nature and provenance of the material, the fact that one man is being indicted for it and may go to prison for decades, while another rates a bigger international manhunt than most major war criminals … and yet they feel “uncomfortable” interpreting an informal embargo arrangement to fit the circumstances.

    I don’t believe them. I think more likely, Fairfax have ethical doubts about whether the cables should be published in this way–the volume of compromised diplomatic-in-confidence material being so far out of proportion to the amount of journalistic insight to be gained from studying them. I think Fairfax just don’t want to be the ones to make that call. They want the scoop, but not the ethical responsibility.

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