The other night NBC Nightly News ran an attack on Wikipedia as being a kind of clown show. NBC said that increasingly Wikipedia is the go-to source for college kids. Then it said that Wikipedia is not composed by experts, but by any man on the street, and as evidence, offered a college professor’s claim that several students had turned in papers offering the same bad information on a subject, info they got off–you guessed it, Wikipedia.
To make the point, the reporter Lisa Daniels amended her own Wikipedia entry to say, "Lisa Daniels is a rock star."
Bad journalism. First, Daniels offered no evidence (apart from her own deviltry). I’d like to hear what the professor said was misrepresented, and see if it is just some interpretation he disagrees with, or what.
Daniels is right about Wikipedia’s accessibility, but my sense of Wikipedia is that it is actually intellectually sophisticated; and the real question is whether the Wikipedia process is not in the end as reliable as other processes. How many print encyclopedias even have an entry for Lisa Daniels?
Wikipedia is the way the world is going. The internet scares people because, they say, there are no rules. But actually, internet society incorporates all the old laws, but in new ways. People suffer for doing bad stuff on the internet. People get bad reputations and good ones, they feel accountable to their fellow man. Speaking for myself, I used to use obscenities when I was publishing in print; I don’t when I’m blogging, out of respect for the breadth of the readership.
NBC should do a factual report on Wikipedia: how reliable is it, how does its volume compare with any print encyclopedia, how do its editors seek to enforce standards of accuracy?