Matthew Brown wrote:
On 3/29/07, Phil Sandifer <Snowspinner(a)gmail.com>
I'm troubled here by the shifting argument.
First it's from a
tabloid. Except it's not from a tabloid - it's from a reputable paper
that did original research. But then when it's pointed out that NOR
isn't relevant to this either it becomes insignificant.
Still not the case - if we're having an article on the guy, this is a
sensible thing to put in it.
I wholly agree. We don't have a policy of avoiding scandalous or
unfavorable information about living persons - we have a policy about
being strict about our sourcing.
I have no problem with including scandalous information as long as it's
verifiable, and, because of the potential for repercussions doubly
verified rather than merely verifiable. It is inevitable that those who
spesak for us in the media will be blinsided by questions about these
articles, but with 1.7 million articles there is no way that such a
person can be familiar with every possible problem. When a problem is
raised one can only promise to have people familiar with the subject
look into it to ensure that the information it contains is accurate. We
should not be promising political correctness.
This story was published by a paper that yes, is
alternative and local
- but not a tabloid by any means - and was republished by other
alternative-press papers including the Village Voice. These are
sources that exercise editorial judgment and fact-checking, and they
are big enough to be vulnerable to lawsuits if they publish libellous
untruths, just like the major press.
Absolutely. The paper press is paper. Even if the New York Times
supports the motto, "All the news that's fit to print," it is still
constrained by the realities of the paper medium. It follows from that
that certain issues will be covered by publications with a more local
distribution. A topic that is local in its notability is still notable
to the locals. Most would not be publicized far and wide, though local
newspaper do get mailed to a town's former residents who have moved
away. Most of us are completely uninterested in local scandals in
somebody else's community, but some people are.
Stories like this rarely make the major press simply
because they are
not the kind of stories they're interested in. In my experience,
personal scandal like this is generally not reported in the local
mainstream press unless real-world consequences occur - criminal
prosecutions or dismissals, for instance - and even more rarely in the
national or financial press unless the individual is of national
significance and the scandal has grown to have substantial real-world
consequence. The tabloid and celebrity press is generally not
interested in businessmen unless they're stupendously rich or a media
whore a la Donald Trump.
It's also not unusual for the mainstream press to have a big front page
article when the subject is spectacularly arrested. But it's damned
boring for them to sit through a trial that finds someone innocent.
IMO, this is using BLP as a hammer to beat scandal and
stories out of Wikipedia, even a well-sourced one, and I suspect that
it is done out of a belief that Wikipedia should not be reporting on
such - that it is 'unencyclopedic'.
I do have a book titled "Encyclopedia of Serial Killers." There is some
interest in this kind of thing! Enough to make it encyclopedic. While
I don't think there is much honour in extensive reporting on this kind
of thing I think we do just as much if not more harm bringing it to
people's attention by arguing over it. By all means remove the
information immediately when it cannot be substantiated. If the
argument is only over its importance to the subject, we do much better
waiting a couple of months before removing it quietly.
I don't think that point of view
has strong consensus.
The point may not have strong consensus, but that's no deterrent to the
supporters from pushing that point of view.