The much anticipated Wikileaks document dump of 400,00 classified U.S. military documents, which cover events during the Iraq war from 2004 to 2009, is upon us: The Guardian and the New York Times have both just published their assessments after reviewing the files.
Both newspapers seem to highlight the same broad takeaways from the documents: Iraqi civilian deaths were higher than the Bush administration suggested, the United States largely ignored prisoner abuse conducted by Iraq’s security services, and Iran played an extensive role in training and arming the anti-U.S. insurgency — even raising fears in the military that it may be planning to provide chemical weapons to Shiite insurgents.
One big winner out of the document dump may be Iraq Body Count, an organization whose methods for counting Iraqi civilian casualties in Iraq were consistently criticized by the Bush administration as being unrealistically high.
There’s one more issue that, while certainly not as important as other considerations, I’m curious about: After weeks of preparation and hype, why would Wikileaks and major news outlets settle on 5 p.m. on Friday as the time to release these documents? Presumably, the New York Times and the Guardian are savvy enough to know that a Friday afternoon isn’t exactly the time to attract the largest possible readership. Just one more sign that, while Wikileaks may aspire to revolutionize journalism, its media strategy leaves something to be desired.
Blake Hounshell is managing editor at Foreign Policy, having formerly been Web editor. Hounshell oversees ForeignPolicy.com and has commissioned and edited numerous cover stories for the print magazine, including National Magazine Award finalist "Why Do They Hate Us?" by Mona Eltahawy. He also edits The Cable, FP's first foray into daily original reporting, and was editor of Colum Lynch's Turtle Bay, which in 2011 won a National Magazine award for best reporting in a digital format.
Blake joined Foreign Policy in 2006 after living in Cairo, where he studied Arabic, missed his Steelers finally win one for the thumb, and worked for the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies. Blake was a 2011 finalist for the Livingston Awards prize for young journalists for his reporting on the Arab uprisings, and his Twitter feed was named one of Time magazine's "140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2011." Under his leadership, in 2008, Passport, FP's flagship blog, won Media Industry Newsletter's "Best of the Web" award in the blog category. Along with Elizabeth Dickinson, he edited Southern Tiger: Chile's Fight for a Democratic and Prosperous Future, the memoirs of former Chilean president Ricardo Lagos, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2012.
A graduate of Yale University, Blake speaks mangled Arabic and French, is an avid runner, and lives in Washington with his wife, musician Sandy Choi, and their toddler, David. Follow him on Twitter @blakehounshell.| Passport |