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WikiLeaks surpasses Spiegel as most quoted source for opinion-building in Germany

Secure server: A man squats inside the Pionen high-security computer storage facility of Swedish Bahnhof , one of the companies to host WikiLeaks servers on December 9, 2010 in Stockholm, Sweden. The Pionen White Mountain data centre, once a cold-war era bunker and nuclear shelter, is now home of one of the most intesnse data centrea in the world.

WikiLeaks has surpassed Spiegel as the most quoted source in opinion-leading German media in the first two weeks of December, according to Zurich-based Media Tenor International. According to Media Tenor’s ongoing continuous analysis of quotations in the 40 most important German media for more than a decade, Spiegel has held the pole position from the beginning.

“With Spiegel being one of the global media releasing the leaked documents, the decline of the quotations may be a lesser issue for Spiegel than is the rise of WikiLeaks as an event within the media system,” said media expert Kerstin Klemm. “The fact that the ranking of the quoted sources was led, not by an established media outlet, but by a private organization with no classical editorial body that is not even publishing most of the content itself, is revolutionary in the media landscape as we know it,” explained Klemm.

However, this revolution is not completely free of controversy. While WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, are being celebrated for bringing transparency to international diplomacy, the organization, as well as the origins of the documents themselves, is more obscure than media coverage would lead audiences to assume.

“It seems that at least those cables that are deemed interesting enough for anyone to make the effort to fact check are likely to be real. But nobody seems to be asking why Assange has them,” said Mikael Erola, Internet expert at Media Tenor International. “As long as we don’t know why somebody risked dire consequences to get these documents to the public we can’t properly assess their credibility or the neutrality of their selection,” Erola continued. “But alas, Media Tenor’s data shows that the media isn’t informing the public about this controversy – not in the US , UK, Germany, France, or in Switzerland. While the media is busy quoting the leaks, the issue of reliability of information on the Internet has not been raised.”

For this report Media Tenor analyzed 3,334 quotations in 40 opinion-leading German media between November 1 and December 13 as well as 195,093 reports in 15 international TV news media from January 1, 2009 to December 15, 2010. The average inter-coder reliability was 85.8% in the third quarter of 2010.

Date posted: December 22, 2010 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 186