Readings & Links

Profiles of Bradley Manning and resources to explore the more than half million files he's accused of leaking

Who is Bradley Manning?

The Leaks

Bradley Manning is accused of three major leaks -- the "Collateral Murder" video, nearly 500,000 Iraq and Afghanistan war logs, and 251,000 State Department cables. WikiLeaks published the war logs and State Department cables with a coalition of partner organizations, including The New York Times, the Guardian and Der Spiegel.

Say you're one of these news organization and you're given advanced and unprecedented access to hundreds of thousands of secret documents. Which stories do you run with, and how? Each of the three news organizations took different approaches, highlighted below. [Links to Der Spiegel point to its English-language coverage.]

Afghanistan War Logs

In terms of the visual representations of the Afghanistan war logs, published in July 2010, The Columbia Jourmalism Review's (CJR) Lauren Kirchner gives props to the Guardian for their extensive mining of data and interactive map of IED attacks. Lead stories include The New York Times' analysis of the extent to which Pakistan aids the insurgency, the Guardian's report on civilian deaths and the rise in attacks by the Taliban, and Der Spiegel's profile of the U.S. drone program.

For a broad overview, read C.W. Anderson's piece for the Nieman Journalism Lab on the "Five big questions the WikiLeaks story raises about the future of journalism."

Iraq War Logs

In October 2010, The New York Times, the Guardian and Der Spiegel all published visualizations looking at a day in the life of the Iraq war. The Times mapped Dec. 20, 2006, one of the war's deadlier days; the Guardian chose Oct. 17, 2006, "a typical day in one of the bloodiest years of the Iraq conflict"; and Der Spiegel mapped Nov. 23, 2006, a day that included a high number of civilian casualties.

In terms of written stories, The Times largely focused on the use of civilian contractors, civilian deaths and the treatment of detainees, among other topics; the Guardian lead with the headline "Iraq war logs: secret files show how US ignored torture"; Der Spiegel asked about WikiLeaks' impact on democracy.

Diplomatic Cables

It's worth noting that, in this round of leaks, The Times was provided cables via the Guardian and not from WikiLeaks directly.

CJR's Nov. 29 piece describes The Times as delving into "gossipy inter-embassy burns," the Guardian, in part, led with the U.S. being "catapulted into a worldwide diplomatic crisis," and Der Spigel offered extensive coverage on German diplomats specifically.

For more CJR analysis, see their roundups from day two and day three. Also take a look at Joel Meares' study of how The Times and the Guardian differed in their coverage.

From the Editors

Each of the news organizations wrote statements about their decision to publish the leaks; those from The Times and the Guardian are below.

The New York Times on the Afghanistan war logs, the Iraq war logs and the diplomatic cables.

The Guardian's (at times much shorter) notes on the Afghanistan war logs, the Iraq war logs and the diplomatic cables.

The Times and the Guardian also held Q&As with readers. Here is CJR's overview of how the chats went for the cable publications; of interest are the more lengthy answers from The Times team and the Guardian editor-in-chief's responses.

See also Times executive editor Bill Keller's in-depth and often scathing feature on his dealings with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and Der Spiegel's excerpt from reporters Marcel Rosenbach and Holger Stark's book on WikiLeaks that describes "the tense negotiations with Julian Assange in the run-up to the publication of the diplomatic cables." Read FRONTLINE's interview with Assange for his account of dealing with his media partners.

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Posted May 24, 2011

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