If you live in Britain and read a Sunday paper, the chances are you'll have seen one of these stories.
This is where a document is leaked to a Sunday paper, usually detailing some form of government policy that is apparently under consideration. The paper will cover it as an Exclusive and devote a few pages to it. It will almost always be described as Top Secret, even if the photo of the front cover quite clearly shows that it's only Restricted (The lowest level of classification, which basically means "Of no use to terrorists, but for the love of god keep it away from journalists or they'll blow it out of all proportion")
The trick is to see whether it's followed up on Monday by anyone else.
A similar phenomenon in the States is the Friday Afternoon News Dump, where government officials save news that could be really, really damaging for just before closing on Friday, so that most news organizations will be forced to cover it in their weekend papers, especially the comically-thin Saturday paper, which only die-hard readers bother to peruse. The goal is for the public to either never hear about it, or forget about it when Monday rolls around.
Notable examples in Real Life
- The MP's expenses scandal in 2009 came about because of leaks to the Sunday Telegraph.
Notable examples in Fiction
- Unsurprisingly, the phenomenon is referenced frequently in Yes, Minister.
- Spooks: Constantly. Anything anyone inside the government, including the heroes, wants to release, but is unable to, is conveniently slipped to a journalist and published.