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What kind of an idiot would pay any attention to Wikipedia after this?

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Anyone who can watch this February 2015 vid (“Astroturf and manipulation of media messages”) by news veteran Sharyl Atkisson and still have any respect for Wikipedia had better start figuring out what kind of idiot they are. For their own protection. Know thyself, and all that.

(Wikipedia is only part of the astroturf story, but it’s a pretty sizeable part. And to think we thought pages on ID were a special bad case.)

In this eye-opening talk, veteran investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson shows how astroturf, or fake grassroots movements funded by political, corporate, or other special interests very effectively manipulate and distort media messages.

Sharyl Attkisson is an investigative journalist based in Washington D.C. She is currently writing a book entitled Stonewalled (Harper Collins), which addresses the unseen influences of corporations and special interests on the information and images the public receives every day in the news and elsewhere. For twenty years (through March 2014), Attkisson was a correspondent for CBS News. In 2013, she received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism for her reporting on “The Business of Congress,” which included an undercover investigation into fundraising by Republican freshmen. She also received Emmy nominations in 2013 for Benghazi: Dying for Security and Green Energy Going Red. Additionally, Attkisson received a 2013 Daytime Emmy Award as part of the CBS Sunday Morning team’s entry for Outstanding Morning Program for her report: “Washington Lobbying: K-Street Behind Closed Doors.” In September 2012, Attkisson also received an Emmy for Oustanding Investigative Journalism for the “Gunwalker: Fast and Furious” story. She received the RTNDA Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Investigative Reporting for the same story. Attkisson received an Investigative Emmy Award in 2009 for her exclusive investigations into TARP and the bank bailout. She received an Investigative Emmy Award in 2002 for her series of exclusive reports about mismanagement at the Red Cross.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.

Personally I (O’Leary for News) don’t think the problem can be fixed. Wikipedia’s basic premise is wrong.

The whole world is not going to edit an encyclopedia for free.

If it is not edited by the usual literary hacks, it will be edited by flacks, trolls, and dullards.

See also: How Wikipedia can turn fiction into fact (Sourced enough times, the fiction becomes “troo”)

Wikipedia hacked by elite sources now (The main problem is that the people who use Wikipedia do not care whether it is false or true. “Wikipedia is my library” is the new diagnostic for irresponsible laziness.)

and

Mathematician complains Wikipedia is promoting “pseudo-science” of multiverse (Then there were the minor revelations that core articles “don’t earn even Wikipedia’s own middle-ranking quality scores” and that some “editors” are paid by outside sources.)

Follow UD News at Twitter!

Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose

8 Replies to “What kind of an idiot would pay any attention to Wikipedia after this?

  1. 1

    Attkisson had a taste for diving too deeply into certain issues and started pissing important people off. She eventually burned bridges at CBS and moved around. Her new project is a half-hour weekly called Full Measure based on the simple idea of doing in-depth informative stories that sometimes piss people off. The show debuted well in October and is currently on in 162 markets in the US – typically airing on Sunday mornings in competition with the network magazines (Face the Nation, Meet the Press, etc). Her show is now ready for syndication into the remainder of the US markets. She has a good team behind her, and a good cash partner in Sinclair Media. She is going to do very well.

  2. 2
    awstar says:

    anyone who … still have any respect for Wikipedia had better start figuring out what kind of idiot they are

    serious question: what is the best alternative, besides researching everything for yourself?

  3. 3
    jimmontg says:

    Yes, double check any fact presented on Wiki. I’m a baseball fan and they have false statistics on players or teams put there by rival fans. No kidding. I do not trust what I research on Wiki, I have to double check if I’m going to use anything from there. Just think of Wiki as a signpost pointing to where the original info may be. I have found Wiki invaluable for this. Also maybe invest in an online Encyclopedia?

  4. 4
    News says:

    Hi, commenters!

    UprightBiped at 1: What Atkisson is doing used to be called “investigative journalism.” You know, Woodward and Bernstein?
    That was before fact morphed into “narrative” and media into PR for progressive government.

    awstar at 2: New media make the research task much easier. Put seriously, if you were not on Uncommon Descent, would you know all that stuff about Wikipedia? Who was going to tell you, for free? The trick is learning to use the free news services and search engines prudently. Please do remember us at Christmas though. We don’t have “lifestyles” but we do have costs.

    jimmontg at 3: Excellent example, thanks! People sometimes think we are only sore because of the crappy and uninformative poisoned-well pages on ID. Those people are mistaken. Our experience caused us to start accumulating evidence from the experience of others, resulting in some damning indictments.

    If anyone cares, that is. One still hears lazy teachers explaining that Wikipedia is “free” or “easy”or “a good source.”

    It should not be allowed on school servers, nor should students be permitted to source to it directly, unless “Wikipedia” is the topic.

  5. 5
    kairosfocus says:

    News, a good piece. I note appeal to authority includes appeal to the radicals’ consensus a sort of inverted authoritarianism. KF

  6. 6
    jimmontg says:

    #4 News

    “It should not be allowed on school servers, nor should students be permitted to source to it directly, unless “Wikipedia” is the topic.”

    There was an episode of the TV show The Big Bang Theory where one of the characters had a line about going on Wikipedia and putting in wrong info for laughs.
    I find it rather disturbing that that is true.

  7. 7
    Peter says:

    I thought Conservapedia might be better. But it suffers from the same incompetence and biased editing.

  8. 8
    Dionisio says:

    W fundraising ad popped up on the screen:

    Dear readers,
    We’ll get right to it: This week we ask you to help Wikipedia. To protect our independence, we’ll never run ads. We’re sustained by donations averaging about $15. Wikipedia has been online for nearly 15 years. Think about how much you’ve used it over the years. If everyone reading this gave $3, our fundraiser would be done within an hour. The price of a coffee is all we need. If Wikipedia is useful to you, please take one minute to keep our work going another year. We’re a small non-profit with costs of a top site: servers, staff and programs. We serve millions of readers, but run on a fraction of what other top sites spend. We believe knowledge is a foundation. A foundation for human potential, for freedom, for opportunity. We believe everyone should have access to knowledge—for free, without restriction, without limitation. Please help us end the fundraiser and improve Wikipedia. Thank you.

    If everyone reading this right now gave $3, our fundraiser would be done within an hour.

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    Problems donating? | Other ways to give | Frequently asked questions | By donating, you are agreeing to our donor privacy policy. The Wikimedia Foundation is a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization. *If you make a recurring donation, you will be debited by the Wikimedia Foundation until you notify us to stop. We’ll send you an email receipt for each payment, which will include a link to easy cancellation instructions.

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