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Wikipedia and kidnapping. New comedy series

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By Sage Ross

Continued reactions to suppression of kidnapping info

The media continued to react this week to the news that Wikipedia had assisted in the media blackout of the kidnapping of reporter David S. Rohde. The story broke last week in the New York Times (which had organized the blackout), and the Signpost covered Wikipedia's involvement and early responses.

Commentary this week has been largely critical of Wikipedia, with some journalists and bloggers suggesting that the ethics of suppressing news are different for Wikipedia than for newspapers. David Wasserman, a professor of journalism ethics, asks "Why did media keep news secret?". He notes that, given how sensitive the public usually is to reports of news suppression, there has been only limited criticism of The New York Times and other news organizations; "Wikipedia's collaboration seems touchier", he writes, "since it involved censorship and manipulation, but even in the fractious online world the argument that Rohde's life was at stake seems to prevail."

Blogger Michelle Malkin condemns "The NYTimes-Wikipedia whitewash", linking both to the idea of liberal media bias. Times Online blogger Murad Ahmed, by contrast, argues in "Why Wikipedia was right to stop the revelation of David Rohde's kidnapping" that "Wikipedia has grown up" and that "Wikipedia’s maturity should be applauded." Blogger Adam Reilly of the The Phoenix is more ambivalent, finding it "very hard to criticize either the Times Co. or Wikipedia's conduct here" given the potential stakes of raising Rohde's profile before he escaped.

Several technology news sites follow up on the story by exploring Jimmy Wales' role in Wikipedia's effort to assist in the media blackout. In "Wikipedia and the Kidnapped Reporter: Censor or Savior?", TechNewsWorld reports the reaction of journalism ethics authority Peter Sussman: "[Wales is] acting as an editor, and if you're going to assume that role, then you have a responsibility to disclose the grounds on which you're doing it". (Sussman appears to be using the term editor in the general publishing sense rather than the Wikipedia-specific sense; Wales himself took only one action on the Rohde entry, removing semi-protection after Rohde had escaped.) On, "Wales Denies Censoring Wikipedia over Journalist Rohde's Kidnapping" reports reactions and clarifications from Wales himself; Wales characterizes the removal of preliminary reports of Rohde's kidnapping as the exercise of "editorial judgment" rather than "censorship". One of the administrators involved, Rjd0060, responds similarly in one of several related threads on the wikien-l mailing list:

The NYT article does make it seem as if the entire reason that the actions were done were because Jimmy asked or requested it. This is not the case and I know this first-hand, of course being one of those administrators involved. I did what I did because I felt it was appropriate. I did not do it for any other reason. Of course I cannot speak for others but I would only assume that they have similar thoughts.

Wikipedian David Gerard lampoons media reactions to the story on his News of the News satire site with "Wikipedia keeps the truth from everyone".

Update on comedy series Bigipedia

More information has been released concerning the forthcoming BBC Radio 4 comedy series Bigipedia:

For half an hour, BBC Radio 4 takes part in a unique experiment in "broadwebcasting" as it hands over control of its output to Bigipedia – the all-round 360-degree information knowledge article-based conglomerate portal.

Inspired by Wikipedia, Bigipedia is Radio 4's The Sunday Format for the online age. It features multiple-overlapping voices to create information "pages", service announcements, discussion forums and endless upgrades...

Written and created by Nick Doody and Matt Kirshen (Armando Iannucci's Charm Offensive), everything in Bigipedia is utterly untrue.

The first of four episodes of the series airs 11.00–11.30pm on 23 July on BBC Radio 4.


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There is a case for filtering information under certain circumstances: as here, to protect the safety of someone; sub judice legal cases; certain chemical/biological/other information the pursuit of which might cause harm etc. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 10:10, 7 July 2009

Wikipedia and kidnapping, new comedy series

Did anybody read this headline? Who then was a gentleman? (talk) 06:48, 9 July 2009 (UTC)[reply]

One for 'Wikibloopers' - along with some of the Open tasks entries against the headers - notably 'Expand:' and 'Clean up:'  ;) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 10:56, 9 July 2009
When I first read read the headline I was a bit nonplussed, too. It makes sense, but at first glance is a bit weird. Hardly the first such headline in the world, of course, and unlikely to be the last.  :) —DragonHawk (talk|hist) 18:14, 9 July 2009 (UTC)[reply]
I understand one of the obesity articles had an "expand" tag on it. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:41, 13 July 2009 (UTC)[reply]


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