I’m not disputing the “big story”-ness of the latest WikiLeaks…leak, but I can’t help but notice that the mainstream media seems to be anticipating each new WikiLeaks release with the fervor of an impending Halo 3 launch party while its own investigative journalism wallows in relative obscurity.
Maybe I’m out of touch, but the last time I remember a mainstream investigative piece capturing the national conversation the way WikiLeaks apparently does on a regular basis was when Rolling Stone published their Stanley McChrystal profile. And that wasn’t even really a product of a traditional “mainstream media” outlet. And it wasn’t really an investigative piece, either.
A couple theories on this:
1. WikiLeaks does things that MSM just can’t do. I was thinking back to this old “New Avengers” story where Captain America confronts Tony Stark about recruiting Wolverine, a known murderer, into the Avengers. Cap’s a by-the-book type of guy and doesn’t want a murderer on the team, but Tony argues that sometimes, bad guys need to die; rather than Iron Man or Cap become impure when one of those situations pops up, why not just have Wolverine do it?
This isn’t me passing judgment on what WikiLeaks does; I’m just saying that maybe MSM likes what WikiLeaks provides, but doesn’t want to expose itself to the same kind of persecution (prosecution?) that WikiLeaks is currently experiencing.
2. The old-school competitive mentality is too strong for a piece of journalism to become the conversation. It’s rare that MSM orgs credit each other, unless it’s in passing, and even then, that reference usually disappears by the second day’s reports (“once the news is out there, he who broke it doesn’t need to be referenced again,” seems to be the mentality). MSM can sit around and openly debate what WikiLeaks is and what it means for journalism, but would The New York Times’ investigative division ever become the focal point of the day’s news for some story they broke? I can’t really think of an instance (save for maybe the John McCain/mistress story from back in 2008).
I admittedly may very well be far off base here and if I am, please correct me in the comments.