Saturday, 31 July 2010

Coverage of the WikiLeaks Afghan "war logs" story has shifted to denunciations by civil and military authorities in the US and Afghanistan as the story disappears quickly from the pages of the world's press like a blob of oil dropped onto the surface of a lake. Soon, the ugly speck will simply sink unnoticed below the water's glassy surface.

In the UK, authorities have helped to accelerate this process by refusing to comment at all, thus depriving the debate of the oxygen it demands to exist.

Journalists at The Guardian and The New York Times, which were two of the organisations given access to the leaked documents ahead of their wider public release, are now focusing their attention on official damage control. There is no longer any attention being given to the contents of the "logs" nor is there any effort being expended to compare these detailed records against stories that have been delivered in the past to the public via official channels.

And with only a tiny fraction of the documents having been examined in the press, that's a shame.

In the week since the "logs" have been public, there has been inadequate coverage of their contents, in my view. First there was a flurry of outrage by the big two named here accompanied by second-tier stories from other major outlets. Then the focus shifted quickly to the "other side of the story": expressions of official regret at the release. We are about to enter the third phase of the process: silence.

Pic credit: Abdul Khaliq, Associated Press.

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