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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A news leak is a disclosure of embargoed information in advance of its official release, or the unsanctioned release of confidential information.


Types of news leaks

Leaks are often made by employees of an organization who happened to have access to interesting information but who are not officially authorized to disclose it to the press. They may believe that doing so is in the public interest due to the need for speedy publication, because it otherwise would not have been able to be made public, or simply as self-promotion, to elevate the leaker as a person of importance. Leaks can be intentional or unintentional. A leaker may be doing the journalist a personal favor (possibly in exchange for future cooperation), or simply wishes to disseminate secret information in order to affect the news. The latter type of leak is often made anonymously.

Sometimes partial information is released to the media off the record in advance of a press release to "prepare" the press or the public for the official announcement. This may also be intended to allow journalists more time to prepare more extensive coverage, which can then be published immediately after the official release. This technique is designed to maximize the impact of the announcement. It might be considered an element of political 'spin', or news management.

Some people who leak information to the media are seeking to manipulate coverage. Cloaking information in secrecy may make it seem more valuable to journalists, and anonymity reduces the ability of others to cross-check or discredit the information.

Some leaks are made in the open - for example, politicians who (whether inadvertently or otherwise) disclose classified or confidential information while speaking to the press.

Reasons for leaks

  • Politicians and policy-makers may wish to judge the reaction of the public to their plans before committing (a trial balloon). Leaked information may be plausibly denied without blame for proposed unpopular measures affecting their perpetrators.
  • People with access to confidential information may find it to their advantage to make it public, without themselves appearing to be responsible for publishing the information. For example, information which will embarrass political opponents, or cause damage to national security, may be leaked.
  • People privy to secret information about matters which they consider to be morally wrong or against the public interest — often referred to as "whistleblowers" — may leak the information.

Notable Leaks



See also

Books and references

  • Blair Jr., Clay, Silent Victory: The US Submarine War against Japan, Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2001
  • Lanning, Michael Lee (Lt. Col.), Senseless Secrets: The Failures of U.S. Military Intelligence from George Washington to the Present, Carol Publishing Group, 1995



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