But what is remarkable is how much the Times has been influenced by and moved toward the WikiLeaks model. Consider three examples.
First, following WikiLeaks, the Times now deploys SecureDrop, which is an “open-source whistleblower submission system that media organizations can use to securely accept documents from and communicate with anonymous sources.” The Times assures SecureDrop tippers that it does “not ask for or require any identifiable information” or “track or log information surrounding our communication.” It also says that information sent via SecureDrop is stored in encrypted format on its servers and is decrypted and read on a computer unconnected to the Internet.
Second, the Times has lowered the bar on the publication of classified information in recent years. There have been many reasons for this change, but one is that the Times saw the many public interest benefits of WikiLeaks’ early State Department cable release, and noticed that the sky didn’t fall. The Times also got over its fear of legal consequences. Its Assistant General Counsel, David McCraw, recently acknowledged (47:30 ff.) that the newspaper had lowered its bar to publication because of the WikiLeaks and Snowden experiences, which convinced his legal team “that there is no legal consequence from publishing leaks” of classified information, at least where lives are not clearly at stake.
Third, as journalistic norms have changed in the Internet era, the Times has adopted a more capacious understanding of what types of publication are in the public interest. The Times has many more competitors than ever and is desperate for revenue. As WikiLeaks and thousands of less scrupulous competitors around the globe published material that the Times once might not have, the Times necessarily wrote about the news generated by these publications and modified its own scruples in the process. The Times’ great story on the DNC hack made this point indirectly when it referred to the “media’s appetite for the hacked material” and noted that “every major publication, including The Times, published multiple stories citing the D.N.C. and Podesta emails posted by WikiLeaks, becoming a de facto instrument of Russian intelligence.”