The Signpost

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Where to draw the line in reporting?

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By Staff
Carrying on without an official Editor-in-Chief, we—the collective Signpost newsroom team—also wear editor hats. We hope you appreciate the Nobel, err, noble efforts of several guest contributors in this issue, as well as our own. Herein, you will find a concise corpus of debates, data, and distraction for edification and enjoyment. And we're leading off with this question for the community about future directions.

Photograph of an 1880 painting by Mihály Munkácsy depicting a man angrily shouting
If any of our reporting on specific people causes you to feel like this, then let us know how we can do better

As anyone paying attention to The Signpost this year has noticed, the publication has been struggling. So has the team. One of the struggles that has recently cropped up is in how to deal with reporting that involves specific members of the Wikipedian community and wider Wikimedia movement. For example, what type of Wikimedian-specific content, if any, should we cover? Are critical pieces of specific Foundation members acceptable? What about controversies surrounding members of the community, such as chapter board members or notable Wikimedians? Is the line drawn at trawling AN/I for juicy threads, or is that acceptable, too? At what point does investigative journalism become sensationalism, or community news become gossip?

Prior issues have contained content which criticized specific people, and which reported on conflicts and controversies between particular users; reader responses have been mixed, with some condemning it, others criticizing it, and still others commending the commentary. While the support is encouraging, the criticisms, some of which are borderline personal attacks and harrassment in a venue that is considered by some to be a safe haven from our Wikipedia policies, and complaints tell us where we may be falling short of the hopes and expectations of our readers.

At The Signpost, as in Wikipedia generally, the readers come first. We write for you, so your input is paramount in deciding the content of what we write; and if you write, we publish. Like the rest of Wikipedia, we also value consensus in determining what to publish—and not just the local consensus that may be achieved in the newsroom. That is why we are bringing this to you, the readers:

What do you consider to be acceptable reporting
on individuals within the Wikimedia movement?

Please, tell us what you think in the reader comments below! We want to understand where the line is—and what you want to be reading—when it comes to reporting on controversies, conflicts, scandals, and other news involving specific members of the community. The better we do, the better we can provide the content you will want to read - or in the worst case scenario, if you wish to continue reading The Signpost at all, and whether or not the editorial team is fighting an uphill battle to keep it in print.

Finally, the editors and contributors to The Signpost would like to wish our readership and the Wikipedia community a very happy holiday season. Enjoy a well deserved break, and we'll see you after the new year.

In this issue
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Xover, thank you for your comments. They express my thoughts entirely, and I don't think The Signpost has overstepped the line this year. Of greater concern are the reader comments, which although sometimes inappropriate or a swipe at one of the magazine's editors, when we made a suggestion to be selective over what comments we publish as all newspapers do with their readers' letters, we were accused of censorship. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 14:38, 25 December 2018 (UTC)[reply]
@Kudpung: In the current format, I think the comment section is effectively a free for all. Bad behaviour there should be addressed as it should elsewhere on the project. However, a more "edited" format like "Letters to the editor" might have some merit; and it might even be a good idea to relegate open comments to the talk page in favour of some kind of "Letters to the editor"-type scheme (Select comments added as addenda to the article? Select comments collected in a separate "Letters to the editor" column in the next issue?). However, in general I haven't seen much of the problem you describe in the comments (I've probably not paid enough attention), so I can't claim sufficient basis to opine on the right course to take there. --Xover (talk) 14:27, 26 December 2018 (UTC)[reply]
What you are forgetting, SashiRolls, is that apart from the regular routine columns, special reports and investigative journalism are not made by the editorial staff - they don't have time. They are made by contributors like you.... Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 14:38, 25 December 2018 (UTC)[reply]
I agree completely. To complain of lack of coverage in this community-produced work is to fundamentally misunderstand the process by which it comes to be. There is no Signpost cabal; contrariwise, there's two editors-in-chief begging for content collaborators :) ☆ Bri (talk) 17:34, 25 December 2018 (UTC)[reply]
This is the first I've heard of that since May, 2017. I'm glad to hear of this change of editorial position! For the record, then, you both authorize me to contact the WMF & Minassian Media on behalf of the Signpost for the purpose of an article? ~ 🐝 ~ SashiRolls t · c 17:40, 25 December 2018 (UTC)[reply]
The usual process is to make a proposal at the submission desk first, if you want the imprimatur of The Signpost for interviews and so forth. ☆ Bri (talk) 21:44, 25 December 2018 (UTC)[reply]
All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 14:07, 31 December 2018 (UTC).[reply]
I Agree, while I myself am very new to the community and not very active, I Believe that we should only report on significant issues, and do our best to accurately report on such occurrences with as little bias as possible.Billster156234781 (talk) 22:23, 6 January 2019 (UTC)[reply]
I miss the Arbitration Report especially when I was working as an ArbCom clerk and enjoyed reading the Signpost editor's take on cases that can last months and months. With the light ArbCom load these days, I don't think it would be too demanding of an assignment. Any volunteers lately? Liz Read! Talk! 23:55, 6 January 2019 (UTC)[reply]
Liz I usually do the arbitration report. There were reports in third quarter 2018 for October 1, December 1, December 24. ☆ Bri (talk) 03:27, 10 January 2019 (UTC)[reply]


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