Accuracy in Media

In the wake of the massive document dump by WikiLeaks the New York Times is now considering creating their own submission system for acquiring large files from potential leakers.

According to The Cutline Executive editor Bill Keller said that while “nothing is nailed down”  he could potentially envision something along the lines of Al Jazeera’s Transparency Unit at the paper.

Keller told The Cutline that “A small group from computer-assisted reporting and interactive news, with advice from the investigative unit and the legal department, has been discussing options for creating a kind of EZ Pass lane for leakers.”

Al Jazeera’s Transparency unit allows users to submit files through an encrypted system without recording any personal information just a WikiLeaks does and is receiving a lot of attention since announcing that it has over 1,700 documents on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict though the accuracy of some of the documents has been called into question.

That begs the question of who will verify the leaked submissions?  If the Times receives as much data as WikiLeaks or Al Jazeera it could easily overwhelm the staff assigned to vet the information.  This could lead to either very little information being published or even worse hundreds and hundreds of pages being  published without being verified just t clear the backlog.

I can understand Keller’s desire to create a WikiLeaks type of system as it could breathe some life into a dying print publication but he should weigh the risks to national security if he decides to publish any classified documents that the paper may obtain versus the benefit of selling a few more newspapers.

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