Monday, 6 December 2010
'We protected vulnerable in WikiLeaks material'
The Guardian's readers editor Chris Elliott today looks at the paper's decision to publish the US embassy cables obtained via WikiLeaks.
In his Open Door column, Elliott writes that a minority of readers opposed the decision: "Among those who emailed and posted comments on the WikiLeaks stories online – I have read through about 1,000 of the emails and posts on these articles – most agree that publication was and is the right thing to do. But a substantial minority hold a different view.
"Their arguments are that the Guardian has endangered lives, made the business of governments impossible, relayed insignificant diplomatic tittle-tattle to sell newspapers and encouraged treason and theft."
Elliott adds: "One view – posted at the end of a Simon Jenkins article that argued 'The job of the media is not to protect power from embarrassment' – said: 'As much as I love the Guardian and use it as a primary source of news … this stinks ... I ask who on staff at the Guardian is qualified to determine whether there is harm done by the selective release of this information?' "
Elliott replies: "Alan Rusbridger, the editor in chief, makes the final decisions about what is published and what is not. He takes the ultimate responsibility. He has worked with a team, that has numbered up to 30 at some points, of senior print and web editors, investigative journalists and foreign correspondents, subeditors, lawyers, systems editors and technologists – the interactive map on the site has been the Guardian's most used graphic online, ever. The team combed every document and story published to ensure, as far as they were able, that no names of those who may be vulnerable to harm or retaliation have slipped through."
He also reveals: "There were 4.1 million unique users on the first day the material went online, a record, and 3.3 million on the second day."