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Mark Atwood
I wonder about media leakers
I wonder about media leakers.

I'm not talking about whistleblowers, who reveal coverups by governments and corporations that are keeping secrets of bad or illegal actions.

I'm talking about people who "confidentially source" to the media details of business negotiations, media productions, and gossip of private heartache. Things that are private and confidential for a reason, will be revealed when they are properly baked, and that do nobody any good for being revealed early, except maybe for a burst of clickstream traffic for the "news" source that "scooped" it.

I know a fair number of secrets. Some of them are close friends' private heartaches, which are theirs to reveal, if ever. And some of them are business negotiation secrets incidental to my job, and a few of them part of my job to know. I actually go out of my way to avoid learning things I shouldn't need to know at my employer, just so as to firewall myself from even the appearance of impropriety.

Any of them, if I "confidentially sourced" them to the tech press, would do nothing but cost money that is not mine for no honest gain to anybody, possibly prevent good things that I would like to have happen not happen, and would betray my own principles I try to hold myself to.

So, why do other people do it?

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5 comments or Leave a comment
faerieburst From: faerieburst Date: June 8th, 2015 03:47 am (UTC) (Link)
I think a small percent do it as an act of hostility or revenge, but I think most do it as a "Look what *I* know! I'm so "in the loop"! I'm important!" kind of thing.

zzbottom From: zzbottom Date: June 8th, 2015 09:53 am (UTC) (Link)
I suspect a good percentage of "confidential sources" are secretly corporately/organizationally endorsed releases of information in an attempt to manipulate public perspective.
mangosteen From: mangosteen Date: June 8th, 2015 01:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes. That. Exactly that.

You have to prepare the ground for large revelations. Better to move the public's opinion beforehand while maintaining plausible deniability.
cinema_babe From: cinema_babe Date: June 8th, 2015 06:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
There are a few reasons that encompasses most of these

(a) Money: One of my college roommates interned one summer at a famous tabloid. What she found is that there are a lot of people near the bottom of the corporate social ladder who know enough to pass on some half info for a few thousand bucks.This might be delivery people, doormen, secretaries, people who work in mailrooms, baristas and counterpeople; you would be amazed at who sees what kind of sellable information in society.3K tax free might not be a lot for a media outlet but it's a lot if you're making 27K.

(b)Intentional leaks: Some orgs leak things themselves to embarrass people involved, damage contracts or contract negotiations, to gauge public reaction, to beat others to the punch, or to generate "buzz"

(c)Revenge: nuff' said about that one

(d)Attention and/or power: If you come to rely on me as a source that puts me in a powerful position. I am the gatekeeper of what information you get. If the need arises, I might be able to ask you for something at a later time. Social Network analysts might label you a bridge (only one component in the network might not know that a bridge between the and an outside organization exists). There's also the personal thrill some people get when they see the fruit from the seeds they tossed in the field.

Yeah, I don't spend too much time studying human behavior....
awfief From: awfief Date: June 8th, 2015 08:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
What everyone else said, plus....

Some people think that they are the final arbiters of what should and should not be public (or even open and transparent).

At Mozilla when we were looking for a CEO last year, some *demanded* that the hiring process be open and transparent. They thought it was important to share reasons why someone was rejected, and why someone else went onto the next level.....which has SERIOUS legal implications.

There are many, many people in open source who think they're providing a valuable service by "informing" others.
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