Friday, 30 July 2010

Why New York Times won't link to WikiLeaks

New York Times executive editor Bill Keller has sent an email to The Daily Beast website explaining why the the paper has made the "gesture" of not linking to WikiLeaks' intelligence documents on the war in Afghanistan, despite being one of the three publications, along with the Guardian and Der Spiegel, to be given exclusive access to the information.
The Daily Beast reports that WikiLeaks founder Jullian Assange has accused the New York Times of being “pusillanimous” and “unprofessional” for failing to link to WikiLeaks' and for giving the White House too much say over what The NY Times should print.
Keller's email to The Daily Beast says: "As I read his remarks, his complaint is that The Times -- in a note to readers explaining how we handled the secret archive -- made a point of saying that we did not link to the material posted by WikiLeaks. Since we normally do link to source data that we have used in our stories, we thought readers were entitled to know that the absence of a link was intentional, not some oversight, and to know the reason for it.
"In our own publication, in print and on our website, we were careful to remove anything that could put lives at risk. We could not be sure that the trove posted on WikiLeaks, even with some 15,000 documents held back, would not endanger lives.
"Our subsequent search of the material posted on WikiLeaks found many names of Afghan informants who could now be targets of reprisals by the insurgents. (The Times of London has done a similar search.)
"Obviously our decision not to link to the WikiLeaks archive would not deter anyone who wanted to find it. All we could do was make this gesture to show we were not endorsing or encouraging the release of information that could cause harm."

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