Pas på, hvad du læser på Wikipedia, hvis der ikke er kildeangivelse, kunne konklusionen vel være – pas i det hele taget på, hvad du læser på nettet eller (viser det sig) i aviserne.
En 22-årig studerende fra Dublin skrev umiddelbart efter den franske komponist Maurice Jarres død et falsk citat ind på hans Wikipedia-side. Det følgende døgn gik det sin sejrsgang i alverdens aviser.
Siobhain Butterworth forklarer i dagens Guardian:
An obituary of French composer Maurice Jarre, which appeared in the Guardian on 31 March, began and ended with quotes. It opened with: “My life has been one long soundtrack. Music was my life, music brought me to life” – and closed with: “Music is how I will be remembered. When I die there will be a final waltz playing in my head, that only I can hear.” The words, however, were not Jarre’s, they were Shane Fitzgerald’s – the 22-year-old student at University College Dublin had put them on Jarre’s Wikipedia page a day earlier.
Fitzgerald’s timing could not have been better. He added the fake quote shortly after the composer died and just as writers were working on his obituaries. The Guardian commissioned an obituary writer on the morning of 30 March, giving him only a few hours to produce a substantial piece on Jarre’s life for the following day’s paper. He was not the only one taken in by the hoax – the quote was recycled in several other obituaries published in print and on the web. Fitzgerald told me that he’d looked for something (or someone) journalists would be under pressure to write about quickly. Jarre’s death was “the right example, at the right time”, he said.
What others might see as an act of vandalism, Fitzgerald calls research. In an email last week he apologised for deliberately misleading people and for altering Jarre’s Wikipedia page. He said his purpose was to show that journalists use Wikipedia as a primary source and to demonstrate the power the internet has over newspaper reporting.
Dette betyder ikke, at Wikipedia er ubrugeligt – som alment tilgængeligt leksikon er det endog særdeles nyttigt. Men det kan, som Butterworth også bemærker, ikke bruges som primærkilde. Selv Britannica kan det være kritisk at bruge på den måde, en Wikipedia har som bekendt det særlige problem, at hvem som helst kan skrive hvad som helst:
The moral of this story is not that journalists should avoid Wikipedia, but that they shouldn’t use information they find there if it can’t be traced back to a reliable primary source.
The desirability of telling readers where information comes from shouldn’t be overlooked either.
It’s worrying that the misinformation only came to light because the perpetrator of the deception emailed publishers to let them know what he’d done and it’s regrettable that he took nearly a month to do so. Why did he wait so long? “I apologise for that,” he said. “I was originally going to do a report for my class and then it didn’t work out. I know I should have told you sooner.”
Fitzgerald says he is shocked by the results of his “experiment” with Jarre’s Wikipedia page. “I expected the quote to get into the blogs, but I didn’t expect it to get into mainstream newspapers,” he said.
Det besvarer vel også et andet spørgsmål, som af og til rejses. Har internet betydning som massemedie? I dette tilfælde synes Fitzgeralds eksperiment at vise, at det kan det i hvert fald have. Om denne betydning så er gavnlig, er et andet spørgsmål – i dette tilfælde har den nok efterladt en del journalister med røde ører.
Link: Open door
Update, 8/5: Politiken har nu også historien – gad vide, om de har set den her? 🙂