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Clueless in Kardashianistan
The journalistic integrity of Sweden's sleaziest tabloid called into question.
DUCKPOND (Rixstep) — Some stories write themselves. This is one.
A bit of a fracas broke out last night on Twitter as an unwitting and ill-equipped soul manning the @expressen Twitter account thought he had a chance fending questions about his company's quirky outbursts earlier in the day.
The splashes in the duckpond started early in the day when Expressen made a big fanfare out of an Assange quote in Rolling Stone and tried to connect this to a 'secret document' they claimed to have got their hands on.
The secret document in question was supposed to be an 'internal memo' circulated by WikiLeaks detailing the measures that would be taken to stop the rendering of Julian Assange to the United States.
All subsequent press releases by Expressen and the other duckpond media organisations have stressed that one specific point: that it's about Sweden rendering Assange to the United States - making it rather too obvious the game the Swedes are playing.
Here's the thing: everyone but the clueless in Kardashianistan know the WikiLeaks team have been holed up northeast of London for over 400 days. They live in the same bloody house. They don't need to write bloody internal memos to each other - they're sitting at the same table hacking away all day and they sit at the same table in the kitchen to take their meals. They talk to each other. 'Internal memos' sounds so 'Expressen' anyway - far too uncool for a group like WikiLeaks.
Bildt in London yesterday. Note PM Reinfeldt in the background.
The Expressen position (and subsequent dilemma) seems to be a mishmash of the following.
- Expressen never reveals sources: it's prohibited by Sweden's constitution. (Sweden doesn't have a constitution.)
- Nobody's interested in Expressen's sources anyway. They want to see the documents. That's how journalism works.
- Expressen won't release the documents, using the excuse they can't reveal their sources. Rinse and repeat.
And that's where communications broke down and the poor sod at the @expressen controls started to unravel. Getting confused over issues like sources and documents can be a bit much at 01:45 in the morning. The account went to sleep shortly afterward.
Screen caps from the exchange on Twitter. A screen cap's worth at least 140 characters.
But Expressen won't budge. They have a secret 'internal document' that only they have seen and they aren't showing it to anybody.
Simultaneously Kristinn Hrafnsson reports that WikiLeaks headquarters is crowded at the moment because they have their brand new Maserati parked in the sitting room. But no one's allowed to come look at it - they have to protect their sources.
The Story of Expressen
Things weren't always this bad. Expressen has a long and less than distinguished history. It was the advent of the 'web' that turned things around for them. Rival Aftonbladet suddenly surged into the lead and Expressen started bleeding money.
The Bonniers called in Otto Sjöberg from their television station TV4 to take over. Sjöberg decided the best way to increase traffic was to create a dirty rotten scandal. So he tasked his trusty reporters with making one up out of thin air. They started stalking Swedish celebrity Mikael Persbrandt for no reason other than someone suggested him and one stalked celebrity is as good as another.
Chancellor of justice Göran Lambertz brought charges against Sjöberg and Expressen on 18 May 2006. But the damage had been done. Sjöberg and Expressen lost in court but Expressen's traffic and ad revenues were again acceptable.
So much for journalism in the duckpond.