In the American case, one of the reasons [leakers go to Wikileaks and not US establishment media is that] the legitimacy of the press itself is in doubt in the minds of the leakers. And there’s good reason for that. Because while we have what purports to be a “watchdog press,” we also have — laid out in front of us — the clear record of the watchdog press’ failure to do what it says it can do, which is provide a check on power when it tries to conceal its deeds and its purpose.
So I think it’s a mistake to try to reckon with WikiLeaks and what it’s about without including in the frame the spectacular failures of the watchdog press over the last 10, 20, 30, 40 years - but especially recently. And so without this legitimacy crisis in mainstream American journalism, the leakers might not be so inclined to trust an upstart like Julian Assange and a shadowly organization like WikiLeaks …
These kinds of huge, cataclysmic events [the Iraq War] within the legitimacy regime lie in the background of the WikiLeaks case, because if it wasn’t for those things, WikiLeaks wouldn’t have the supporters it has, the leakers wouldn’t collaborate the way they do, and the moral force behind exposing what this Government is doing just wouldn’t be there… The watchdog press died, and what we have is WikiLeaks instead.
— Jay Rosen, Professor, NYU Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute via Glenn Greenwald