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.”

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Companies: afp, facebook

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Comments on “AFP Reporters Forced To Fact-Check Wikipedia, Facebook”

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Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Doug says:

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.


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