The Wall Street Journal appears to be the first major news outlet to get their own Wikileaks-style portal up and running. They’re calling it The SafeHouse, a haven where tippers can submit various forms of documentation anonymously.
The site states they’re looking for “newsworthy contracts, correspondence, emails, financial records or databases from companies, government agencies or non-profits,” asserting that direct access to information is the key to modern journalism. So far, it’s looking like they’ll have a three-tiered submission ladder: 1. A standard submission form with contact information attached (though your confidentiality isn’t guaranteed), 2. an anonymous option for directly submitting materials, and 3. an option to request confidentiality before submitting anything in, though I fail to see why users would choose this option instead of opting for number 2.
But you know what? It’s smart. Newsgathering is tough work, so why not leverage all the modern accoutrements the Internet has to offer? Reporters are already crowdsourcing answers all the time through Twitter, while websites like Help A Reporter and ProfNet are gaining ground. (There’s also Quora to a lesser extent, though I haven’t heard of first-hand success stories using it).
There will be major hurdles to clear, of course, the first major one being whether or not anonymous tippers will feel safe enough to pass along their sensitive documentation without risking discovery. This lends itself to the next big question: Is the portal itself really as secure as it’s touted it to be?
Earlier this year we reported that the New York Times is likely considering its own Wikileak-like portal, though if I were them I’d wait to see how WSJ‘s fares before tweaking accordingly. It may be a few months before we see a concrete example of The Safehouse playing out effectively.
In any case, I’d just hate to be the intern who had to vet through all the submissions, which pesty PR people (not all of you!) will probably be abusing too.
(via The Atlantic)
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