“There’s a really interesting collaboration between the three news organizations. But Julian, he’s a source,” says Davies. “All three media organization interviewed him in order to be able to write a profile of him, explain various things about the material, challenge him on various points. So he was there for that function.”

Goetz and Davies also say they had conversations with Assange encouraging him to be careful about the lethal harm that could come to people identified in the logs if he released certain documents unredacted.

While the frequent information sharing, which continued long after the group split geographically, gave the outlets some idea of what each was working on, no one was let in on specific stories. Nor were drafts or copy shared.

“Sunday night, when it all went online at 10 o’clock in the evening U.K. time, we were sitting there saying ‘What has Eric written? What’s Goetz written?’” says Davies.

The packages provided a detailed, contextualized analysis of the originally unwieldy and confusing database with which that the reporters had originally been provided. Davies says ensuring that the reporting power of these high-profile newsrooms was brought to bear on the logs was exactly, back in Belgium a month ago, what Assange had said he hoped for by providing the outlets an advance look, instead of following WikiLeaks’s usual past practice of simply uploading the once-secret documents to their own site.

“I remember one of the things he said was that there was a problem when you put raw material on a Web site—each individual news organization says ‘Well we’re not going to invest weeks trying to make sense of that, because for all we know, another media organization over the hill is already doing that. And two days before we’re ready to go, they’ll go, and all our effort will be wasted,’” says Davies. “He isn’t just putting it out there for the sake of it. He’s putting it out there because he wants the world to understand whatever the subject of the information is. And our operation has hugely increased that possibility.”

CORRECTION, 7/29: Schmitt had been reporting in Pakistan, not, as the piece incorrectly said, Iraq. The text has been corrected.

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Clint Hendler is the managing editor of Mother Jones, and a former deputy editor of CJR.