Wikileaks is a relatively new media player with a promising approach. Somewhat like The Smoking Gun, it gets the proverbial brown envelope and publishes. It made a big mark in getting some records on Guantanamo Bay.
But its latest strategy is raising questions. Wikileaks has come into possession of a number of documents involving an aide to Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, and rather than publish them, it wants to auction them to a news organization for a presumed window of exclusivity --- then publish them.
Now, without knowing exactly what the documents contain (let's assume they're terrific), Wikileaks is running a little risk in changing its open-source delivery system into one that is no different than any other researcher.
Concerns are being expressed about so-called chequebook journalism, but news organizations pay freelancers and researchers for their documentary work all the time. The bigger issue here seems to be that Wikileaks feels certain documents will qualify for auctions, which defeats some of its purpose to publish readily and in a timely fashion.
If I were buying these documents, I'd want a very large window, proprietary online rights for some time, and copyright protection of some sort to shield my investment and derive the greatest possible benefit.