Earlier this year, we noted how the press got caught
relying on Wikipedia when they reprinted an error (amusingly, those press clippings were then used to "verify" the info in Wikipedia). It appears to have happened again. Clay Shirky
points us to the news that a student in Ireland added a fake quote to the Wikipedia page of Maurice Jarre
, a French musician who died in March. The student added the fake (but potentially real-sounding) quote soon after Jarre died, and many reporters apparently included the quote in their obituaries/writeups about Jarre
. Of course, Wikipedia-haters may use this to point out the horrible questionable nature of Wikipedia content, but that's missing the point. Everyone knows that Wikipedia content should be considered suspect since anyone can edit it. It's a known quantity. For the most part, then, if you're a reporter, it should never be used as a sole source on something, but for background info that can also be checked elsewhere. The real issue was that the press didn't do this -- and didn't do their jobs
in actually confirming the info.