AFP Reporters Forced To Fact-Check Wikipedia, Facebook

from the isn't-that-part-of-the-job? dept

Perhaps taking a page from certain universities, the London bureau chief of the Agence France Presse (AFP), Pierre Lesourd, stated that the news agency's reporters are not allowed to use Facebook and Wikipedia as sources. However, Lesourd at least clarified the policy -- saying that reporters can cite any online resources as long as they also refer to other reliable, independent sources to verify the facts. Lesourd announced the AFP's position after the issue came up due to several news agencies being fooled by a fake profile of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Facebook.

Fortunately, the AFP realizes that fact-checking is an important part of its journalistic mission, but it seems a bit disappointing that this basic principle of responsible news reporting needs to be re-affirmed for "new media" sources. Then again, there will always be mistakes in any kind of research, so the real lesson here may be that there is an equally important basic principle of reading the news: "Don't believe everything you read."


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Josh, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 10:55am

    Facebook?

    Someone actually used Facebook as a source in a paper? That tells me something about some current journalists (and not good things). I think even elementary schoolers wouldn't cite Facebook in a report.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 11:22am

    Bias is everywhere - but it helps to see through

    The funny thing about establisted media is that they can be biased. If you only watch TV you will hardly have heard of
    --- ----. Yet more then over 200,000 people put up money to support him. I think that is might be why looking at a Wiki, Facebook and other sources is useful.

    We accept that ads have a bias to sell the product. So we check for crazy claims. Yet some are true. e.g the crazy claim that the modern cell phone (e.g. Nokia N95 ) has more computing power than a university computer facility of 30 years ago. This is amazing but true. It shows the rate of technological improvements in computing.

    So learning to check if the information is true is a important skill for everyone. It is like 'debugging', which is a skill required not only by programmers and engineers, but by everyone nowadays It is a skill we all need as we use systems made of computers, which are hidden in phones, cars and sound systems and their interactions.

    Sometimes it is wise to ask:-
    Why are they telling me this?
    Who is trying to sell me something?
    Are they trying to mislead me?

    You can explore and find out the facts.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Petréa Mitchell, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 11:43am

    Not to mention...

    The Ronnie Hazlehurst/S Club 7 incident may have something to do with this, too. (Although AFP itself was not involved in that one itself, AFAIK.)

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Doug, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 11:45am

    I think it's important that journalists cite only edited, vetted information when reporting a story. Whether the info comes from hardcopy or an online source really doesn't matter.

    I work as a journalist, and as an aside, I have to say I enjoy the debates on Techdirt about DRM, copy protection and the different ideas about 'free' content.

    I especially enjoy posts about paid (read: value-added) reporting versus free, ad-supported journalism.

    Doug

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 12:24pm

    With Wikipedia it's difficult to verify whether an article was written by a Harvard professor or the junkie next door. Just my opinion.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 1:11pm

    I check Wikipedia for facts on Ron Paul.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_Paul

    Unfortunately it had too many syllables, and "Google Ron Paul" was chosen for the song title.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Erin Pinzon, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 1:20pm

    Re:

    So who did this "Ron Paul" guy knock over with a shovel to have the largest one-day fundraiser in U.S. political history, raising over $6 million? Must have been elvis. Someone please go fix that wikipedia page.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Trevlac, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 1:27pm

    Re:

    Not if you know how to read...there's little citation marks after each claim with a footnote at the bottom of the page. You can easily check on an alleged fact and see if it is junk or real and edit as necessary.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 1:44pm

    Although appalling, this is hardly surprising. The media has been biased for so long, I don't think most of them would know a fact if it hit them in the face. Granted, there are some honest and legitimate reporters out there, but they are becoming fewer and fewer all the time.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Opps, my bad, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 5:17pm

    Absence of Malice

    "Fortunately, the AFP realizes that fact-checking is an important part of its journalistic mission"

    Its a shame other journalists do not share this point of view.
    Yes ... Fox, I'm looking at you.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Niftyswell, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 7:00pm

    Re: Absence of Malice

    Yep, because we all know the only reliable source for news that isnt created out of thin air is the NY Times. Maybe Dan Rather can get a job there as fact checker when he isnt helping NBC news blow up pickup trucks?

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2010 @ 6:01am

    bilwalhhh

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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