What I think gets forgotten is that five of the world’s biggest newspapers – and WikiLeaks – held a shared timetable for three weeks. That’s an unprecedented level of collaboration, and I think everyone involved will look back on it more favourably than perhaps they do at the moment.
While I think the duty exists to an extent, WikiLeaks wants to be seen by media outlets as a partner organisation, receiving due credit as the source of the material, being free to release its own stories and take on the subject matter, and to co-publish. I think that’s a more activist and more controlling position than a typical source, and so perhaps means outlets have less duty of care than otherwise.
WikiLeaks is a conduit which exists to protect the people who are directly taking the risks to get powerful material to the public. They are the sources that most deserve, and need, protection.