Would Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales have done this for Fox News or the Washington Times? And if he had/has, wouldn’t the New York Times editorial page blast him for colluding to suppress information from the public?
For seven months, The New York Times managed to keep out of the news the fact that one of its reporters, David Rohde, had been kidnapped by the Taliban.
But that was pretty straightforward compared with keeping it off Wikipedia.
…A dozen times, user-editors posted word of the kidnapping on Wikipedia’s page on Mr. Rohde, only to have it erased. Several times the page was frozen, preventing further editing — a convoluted game of cat-and-mouse that clearly angered the people who were trying to spread the information of the kidnapping.
Even so, details of his capture cropped up time and again, however briefly, showing how difficult it is to keep anything off the Internet — even a sentence or two about a person who is not especially famous.
The sanitizing was a team effort, led by Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, along with Wikipedia administrators and people at The Times.
Read the whole NYTimes’ piece. Note especially how a Times editor used Wikipedia (and the Times’ own website) to spread pro-Muslim propaganda about Rohde in order to secure his release — specifically, by expunging the word “Christian:”
Mr. Rohde was kidnapped in Afghanistan on Nov. 10, along with his interpreter and their driver. Two days after the kidnapping, a Wikipedia user altered the entry on Mr. Rohde to emphasize his work that could be seen as sympathetic to Muslims, like his reporting on Guantánamo, and his coverage of the Srebrenica massacre of Bosnian Muslims. Mr. Rohde won a Pulitzer Prize for his Bosnia coverage in 1996, when he worked for The Christian Science Monitor.
The Wikipedia editor in that case was Michael Moss, an investigative reporter at The Times and friend of Mr. Rohde who has written extensively about groups like Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Like many Wikipedia editors, he adopted a user name that hid his true identity.
“I knew from my jihad reporting that the captors would be very quick to get online and assess who he was and what he’d done, what his value to them might be,” he said. “I’d never edited a Wikipedia page before.”
With his editors’ blessing, Mr. Moss had already made similar changes to Mr. Rohde’s “topic page” on The Times’s Web site, and in both cases he omitted the name of Mr. Rohde’s former employer, because it contained the word Christian.
As I said before, I’m glad Rohde is safe.
But as I also said before, imagine if Wikipedia were, say, a bank cooperating in secrecy with intelligence/counterterrorism officials to help track jihadists. Why, it would be a front-page national scandal.
Have Wikipedia and the New York Times colluded on any other entries for any reason? Has Wikipedia conspired with any other media outlet/reporter to expunge accurate, relevant information that said media outlet/reporter doesn’t want published? Inquiring minds want to know.
Let the information consumer beware.