The Wikileaks 'War Logs' Media Backlash Is Here

Last night, Wikileaks—which is not a classic professional media organization!—got one of the biggest scoops of the year with its trove of documents on the Afghanistan war. The day-later meta-media insta-reaction: "That's not such a scoop, meh."

Wikileaks' Julian Assange made the mistake of comparing these documents to the Pentagon Papers. Whoa, not a treasured old journalism trope! Pundits who were looking for a way to cover this story without actually having to read the documents involved had found their angle.

Fred Kaplan in Slate: "Not the Pentagon Papers: No one who's been paying attention should be surprised by the WikiLeaks documents about the war in Afghanistan."

Just because some documents are classified doesn't mean that they're news or even necessarily interesting.

Joshua Foust in the Columbia Journalism Review: "What's new about the WikiLeaks data?"

Yet when you look at the Small Wars Journal's archive of stories about "The Afghan War Logs," as WikiLeaks has taken to calling them, what is remarkable is what's new: not very much.

Richard Tofel in ProPublica: "Why WikiLeaks' ‘War Logs' Are No Pentagon Papers"

In terms of important disclosures, it's not even close, with the historical importance of today's documents [5] likely to be relatively minor, and that of the Pentagon Papers enormous.

These contrarian insta-criticisms are far more valuable for the public than it would have been to examine and report on even a few of the documents themselves, or, dare we say, to try to score a scoop of equal value. Way to show those amateurs how it's done, media professionals!