Wikinews:Water cooler/policy/archives/2012/November

Appearance of Impartiality

I would like to comment on news coverage from wikinews. I understand it is user contributed and this might lead to under or over representation depending on who is writing articles. For example if FARC members continually reported on news articles it would lead to a one sided view of the conflict in Colombia. It is my opinion that wikinews posts are continuously pro Palestinian. I am going to refrain from expressing my beliefs, and I do not have statistics, but it seems many or most of the articles written only share one side of the story. Currently in the past week there have been 3 breaking news stories about the assassination of a Hamas member, Hamas shooting down an f 16, and Israel striking a news building. There has not been one about an Israelis dying from rocket strikes, or one about the start of rocket attacks which preceded the assassination and operation iron pillar. I am not expressing thoughts as to the validity of either sides arguments, but noting the consistent lack of balanced reporting. I know articles are user submitted, but articles representing news inside of Israel are not present and it gives wikinews the appearance of partiality. I do not want to argue and will not respond to anything about who is right, or whose fault what is because you have missed the point of this post. It is my opinion the stories are reported very one sided. Eframgoldberg (talk) 02:39, 18 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

There are two separate issues here: choice of story, and coverage of any given story.
Regarding coverage of individual stories. You mentioned this concern on the comments page of a recent article. You were mistaken about that article. We do not present "one side" of a story; a Wikinews article does not present a "side" — we're neutral. Those who are used to a certain propaganda climate often forget (or perhaps never realized) there is such a thing as neutrality. When exposed to an absence of their preferred bias, they mistake that absence for a bias "against" their preferred POV.
Regarding choice of story, well, we publish submitted articles that meet our standards, but we can't very well review an article that isn't submitted. --Pi zero (talk) 03:02, 18 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Although you can not review an article that hasnt been submitted it should be someones responsibility to make sure articles covering both sides are published. For the current conflict there are 4 articles about Israeli operations in Gaza, and 0 about how Israel has been affected. I could go back and look at previous conflicts and see what the tally is but I would not be surprised to once again count 0 for articles representing news in Israel. So, even though you may think wikinews is neutral because anyone can submit news articles, the track record shows a lack of neutrality. If the only reason for this is because well no one is submitting articles covering news in israel, then it should fall upon someone at wikinews to make sure all sides are covered. (talk) 01:09, 20 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You've evidently missed what I said about sides, as well as the concept of a wiki. --Pi zero (talk) 01:29, 20 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Furthermore todays article "Israeli Defense Force admits to targeting media center in Gaza City airstrike" covers the same story published the previous day "Journalists in Gaza City injured in Israeli airstrike" (talk) 01:12, 20 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
At the time the first article was published, the IDF had not released an official statement on the airstrike. Given the article was over 24 hours old, new information couldn't be added. DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 01:22, 20 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You can tell the two articles are about different events from the fact that their respective focal news events are identified in their headlines. --Pi zero (talk) 01:29, 20 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Well there are now 6 articles published describing the situation in Gaza and 0 published about what is going on in Israel. Doesnt seem like both sides are being represented. Even though 1400 rockets have fallen on Israel and civilians killed, apparently this isnt newsworthy enough to warrant the attention of the writers here.Eframgoldberg (talk) 22:11, 21 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

You raise one of the vexing issues with any volunteer-contributor based news project, Eframgoldberg (I am assuming the IP-signed comments are also yours; please try to sign in and keep who said what identifiable).

However, you are asking for "balance" over a period of time, which is impossible if those with particular sympathies are imbalanced in their contributor-respresentation. NPoV on Wikinews is not at-all like NPoV on Wikipedia; we are not writing a continuously updated, encyclopaedic and perpetually editable, account of past history. Instead, each article is a story, a 'snapshot' which works with the then-available information. NPoV on Wikinews does strive to push contributors to "Write for the 'enemy'"; but, that cannot be grounds to unduly delay publication whilst a press release or statement is waited upon from one side or the other.

I feel that, in the case of something as difficult to handle as the Israel—Palestine conflict, we could all-too-readily descend into accusing each-other of holding unreasonably biased positions. That does nothing to further the project, or improve the quality of reporting. I'll quote from this article, an opinion by Justice Brandeis, "If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence." That applies here, on Wikinews, and with news reporting we often lack that time; but, that is not at-all grounds to call for 'less speech', for 'less news'.

I've experienced the same type of criticism as those devoting time to contribute could readily construe your remarks to represent. And, I think looking at reportage on utterly unrelated issues where similar complaints arose is better than escalation on this issue. I covered a pay dispute and strike threat which has a most-interesting talk-page discussion on neutrality in news; another article of mine saw me having to fight quite vigorously to avoid a good piece of investigative journalism watered down to uselessness. What do both of these pieces share in common? And, perhaps more-importantly, how do they relate to the complaints raised over the Israel-Palestine conflict?

Well, they both show a Wikinews versus Wikipedia approach to a story. Staying newsworthy imposes time constraints; if we wait until one side responds properly, they can choose not to do so and render the story {{notnews}}. Second, we're journalists and should view sources critically.

It all comes down to, "The answer to speech you do not like is not to try and suppress it, but is more speech".

Thus, I do not see any violation of NPoV in what Wikinews has published; instead, I see one side trying to tell the press what to write, what to say, and to disregard statements given in haste. To pick one detail out of the articles I've seen on the recent conflict escalation, the IDF issued the most-ridiculous statement I've ever seen; that they were targeting the roof of a building housing journalists because some communications equipment owned, and operated by, Hamas was there. You can't do that with missiles, mortars and whatnot; you're targeting the building, full stop. It's like the Canadian Music Industry telling me to go speak to their paid lobbyist because "he will tell me the `real` facts" and not notice that he's employed to positively spin their point of view.

Long, rambling, response. But, I hope it puts this project's difficulties in carrying out quality reporting a little more in-perspective. --Brian McNeil / talk 23:02, 21 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • When the IDF goes as far to say that most of those "injured" by Hamas rockets were taken to the hospital because of "stress," That side of the story doesn't compare to what appears to be the intentional target of civilians and journalists. Now...I might be going off a little here, but correct me if I am wrong: What is more important; the death and slaughter of journalists, or the story about how stressed Israelis are? I am not being POV at all here, that is 100% fact, and you can look over all the official feeds of the IDF on twitter. DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 23:15, 21 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
And if you really want a taste of it, go to Al Jazeera and see what a real journalist does in this case: DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 23:17, 21 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • That's where you report the "propaganda" from both sides. As you put it, people going to hospital for stress sounds 'laughable'. If it's what the IDF says, you report it with as-much-as-possible in the way of direct quotes. With Al-J being a pro-Palestinan source, you're looking at saying: Al-J's journalist whoever reports from Gaza seeing "whatever". Yes, we generally tend to avoid quoting other sources in that way; but, this is a case where we're dealing with serious propaganda on both sides. You do end up having to use that technique to 'balance' the war of words. For those who're particularly Pro-Israel they can't criticise us without then being unreasonable in any accusations.
FYI, I'm rattling over points you should know DF, but I'm well aware you're a little out of practice. ;) --Brian McNeil / talk 23:52, 21 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I'm a scientist not a journalist and regardless of how you want to justify or rationalize the distribution of published articles does not change the fact that reporting from this site has been completely one sided (not in terms of article content, in terms of articles published). You might not be partial to one side or another, but it appears as though this has become a soapbox for the Palestinian cause. Furthermore I believe you should recuse yourself from reviewing articles that are up on this conflict as you clearly have POV on the topic and I do not believe you will give an impartial review. I have supported wikipedia for a long time both with contributions to articles mostly scientific, and monetarily. DF's claim that somehow the only negative effect on Israel is "stress" just shows how built in to the machinery of this website bias towards Israel is. I do not have the time to dedicate to making sure Israeli news is covered. If you believe that rocket attacks do not deserve a news story, that bombing attacks in tel aviv do not deserve a story, that Hamas executing "spies" without trial is not deserving of a news story then you have no business being a position where you are expected to be impartial. If you take it upon yourself to write stories covering what is going on in Gaza, and others like me who might not have the skills or experience to write a "good article" can not do it, you should take it upon yourself to write about both sides. I am sorry if I am venting or emotional, but I have noticed the statistical bias in past conflict for the past several years and am only know saying something. How can I expect a fair review when the reviewers are here expressing their point of view and is clearly pro-Palestinian. Eframgoldberg (talk) 01:16, 22 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Are you referring to me rescusing myself from reviewing? I don't take kindly to the allegation that I can't review submissions that might not be stories I would choose to write.
You're being most disingenuous in your 'demands' that the story you want to see be published. I'll sum that up, and you can be the judge of whether the assessment is 'fair': "I want my article telling story X published because you've published lots of stories about Y. I don't care if my story does not meet publication standards, you're biased because you've published stories that meet publication standards and are about Y". That, I'm afraid, is an argument that I've heard so often I don't care what the topic, or the sensitivities or complexities of the issue. It tells me my efforts to explain how to improve the story in question such that it meets publication standards were not taken in the spirit intended.
If you are, instead, taking DragonFire1024 to task, much of the same argument applies; he is not reviewing and publishing his own contributions, and there is a distinct lack of contributions which are suitably close to publication standards and tell the stories you want to see. The project, like all WMF projects, operates on a "volunteer contribution" basis.
I'm sad to say, if you want to see stories telling of what is happening to Israel; nay, if you demand that, then it is the paid press you have to turn to. I'm not saying that to push you away from Wikinews, but to put emphasis on the fact you are demanding people freely volunteering their time to "do work for you". Before you, once again, assume such remarks are because the story you want to tell is "not welcome" I suggest you look at the effort put into trying to explain how to construct an article that can readily be copyedited and pass a review.
I do note the "statistical bias" complaint, but you're - again - using that, and an appeal to authority by asserting you're a scientist, to try and tell people what to do. Wikis don't work like that. --Brian McNeil / talk 01:43, 22 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Wikinews contributors, you may be interested in contributing your opinions to this discussion: meta:Proposals for closing projects/Closure of English Wikinews. Thank you for your time, -- Cirt (talk) 14:43, 19 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]