The Wikileaks Story

… is about Wikileaks. Not the war. But not oddly.

All stories have three elements:

1) A character. A protagonist. The main human subject. Sometimes it’s a cause, but it requires personification. In sports it’s a player or a team. In war it’s a side. In novels it’s a character or a cast of them. I npolitics it’s a party or some other Us. (And there is always a Them. Opponents define characters.)

2) A problem. That is, a situation that cannot be easily resolved. Something that keeps us tuned in, or turning the pages.

3) Movement toward resolution. Even if the situation gets worse, you have some reason to maintain interest. If your team is up 20 points and there’s less than a minute left, the story is over. If the main character dies, or disappears, we tune out. If the whole situation if FUBAR beyond understanding, we also tune out.

So, in no time at all, Wikileaks’ 91,000+ documents, which apparently (so far) contain no story-making news other than the leaks themselves, has become a story about Wikileaks. Thus we have Air Leaks from Wikileaks Balloon, in the Washington Post.

The character is Julian Assange, who is, if nothing else, a very odd and therefore interesting dude. As Michael Wolff asks in the next link, “Who plays Julian Assange in the movie?”

The problem is Dealing with Wikileaks itself. This is a problem for big-J Journalism, which loves to talk about itself. (Hey, it’s a character too.)

There is no obvious resolution, which is why the air leaks out of the balloon. Wikileaks is what it is: a source. Nothing happening here, move along.

Meanwhile the war remains no less FUBAR than it was before the leaks sprung. Just like health care. Just like the financial meltdown. They’re all what Bill Safire used to call MEGOs. The letters stood for “My Eyes Glaze Over.” These were, he said (something like), “Subjects too important not to cover but too complex or dull to care about.”

But there will be movies. Count on it.

2 comments

  1. Russell Nelson’s avatar

    I much prefer #wookieleaks, the most retweeted instance of which is “Recently released documents reveal that yes, those WERE the droids you were looking for.”

  2. James Owens’s avatar

    The problems of this story are also, um, the war in Afghanistan? And what makes that war MEGO is the utter unwillingness of big J journalism to allow anti-war movements to reach large audiences through mainstream news. The narrow range of debate and viewpoints given legitimacy or even representation by big-J journalism assures the continuance of the war(s). Rather than the story being ‘too big and complex’ big J journalists and the mainstream news entities they work for are part of or aligned with the war makers. After all, journalists can’t get Big by alienating their Big Media bosses or Big Insider sources.

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