Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Wikipedia Censored To Protect Captive Reporter

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the limits-to-openness dept.

Censorship 414

AI writes with a story from the NY Times about a 7-month-long effort, largely successful, to keep news of a Times reporter's kidnapping off of Wikipedia. The Christian Science Monitor, the reporter David Rohde's previous employer, takes a harder look at the issues of censorship and news blackout, linking to several blogs critical of Wikipedia's actions. Rohde escaped from a Taliban compound, along with his translator, on Saturday. "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... The sanitizing was a team effort, led by Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, along with Wikipedia administrators and people at The Times."

cancel ×

414 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

WOW (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28521305)

COCKS

lol zomg. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28521327)

zomg wikipediareview picked this up days ago.

why (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28521333)

what was the purpose of censoring the information? was it in order to not give the Taliban any news time or was it an attempt to hide the hideous things the Taliban does in an effort to not bolster cries to rid us of them once and for all?

It seems to me that this is more political then anything.

To keep him alive. (5, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521549)

If Rohde became a cause celebre, the people holding him might be tempted to do a Daniel Pearl style execution for the publicity.

Re:To keep him alive. (5, Insightful)

l2718 (514756) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521687)

If Rohde became a cause celebre, the people holding him might be tempted to do a Daniel Pearl style execution for the publicity.

That may very well be the case -- but your rationale is not specific to kidnapped journalists. The real question here, which should be addressed to both Wikipedia and the New York Times is: why censor news regarding this particular kidnapping, when your general policy is the exact opposite, of detailed reporting on every kidnapping case you hear about?

I find the news of Mr. Wales officially participating in the cover-up quite disturbing. Wikimedia foundation simply does not have the resources to police Wikipedia in this way for all alleged victims of crime. Thus, why were Wikipedia resources spent on this particular case?

Re:To keep him alive. (1)

bishop32x (691667) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521711)

Because the Taliban specifically told the Times that they would kill him if it were reported?

Re:To keep him alive. (5, Interesting)

KillerBob (217953) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521847)

The real question here, which should be addressed to both Wikipedia and the New York Times is: why censor news regarding this particular kidnapping, when your general policy is the exact opposite, of detailed reporting on every kidnapping case you hear about?

Well, while I'm not sure it's applicable to this incident, I do remember a few years back when news and details about a Canadian aid worker who was kidnapped was kept quiet. In that particular case, it was because he had a husband back home waiting for him... They decided that it was better to suppress the information than risk the taliban beheading him for no reason other than he was gay.

It could also have been because they didn't want him to become a celebrity. They may have felt that he was kidnapped in the hopes of making headlines, and getting publicity for their cause. Deny them that publicity, and eventually they might give up and let him go.

*shrugs* we don't know at the moment, and we may never know, but there's two very good reasons to suppress the information.

Re:To keep him alive. (5, Insightful)

sbeckstead (555647) | more than 5 years ago | (#28522093)

I would ask why we care that Wikipedia didn't print the current location and status of a reporter when it is neither germain to the rest of the information about him nor of particular immediate interest.
In the past tense it would be interesting to hear that it had happened but I see no real reason to be incensed that you didn't hear about it while it was happening.
I assume that the Times requested this and from time to time it is the humanitarian thing to do. You have no "right" to know, I hate it when the public's "right" to know is touted because it is a fiction at best.

Re:To keep him alive. (1)

Joe U (443617) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521755)

I have mixed feelings about this. I understand the need to prevent any harm to the reporter, on the other hand we know now that Wikipedia can't ever be considered an unbiased source. (If it ever could, but that's another debate)

It's one thing not to publish something, it's another thing to remove something published.

The same NY Times (0, Troll)

p51d007 (656414) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521889)

That can't wait to expose anything the U.S. military is doing, thereby putting the soldiers lives in jeopardy?

Re:why (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521613)

what was the purpose of censoring the information?

These days, I wouldn't be surprised if it was entirely unintentional. Wikipedia has a very bad habit lately of marking just about anything for deletion, and for making it impossible to contribute without holding exactly the same view of reality as the core (read: constantly unemployed and constantly watching) team.

Re:why (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28522073)

I know this is entirely off topic but, is your username pertaining to ferrets?

Re:why (0, Offtopic)

sbeckstead (555647) | more than 5 years ago | (#28522059)

The f'ing word is THAN moron!
It seems to you that this is more political than anything.
Otherwise we are left waiting to hear what anything did.

the blackout was a good idea (4, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521339)

Seriously, the reporter is kidnapped. You know what his captors want? Publicity for their campaign. If they get the world's attention, they kill him -- this gives them maximum returns on their actions.

By keeping the secret, they may have kept him alive long enough for him to escape.

You may call it censorship, I call it protecting the life of a journalist.

Or, since I DNRTFA, I could be completely off base. But I did read about this kidnapping previously, and I think I'm on track here. Plus I slept at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

Re:the blackout was a good idea (2, Insightful)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521473)

You dont censor the truth in this manner. I am VERY disappointed in wikipedia's stance on this. They should be COMPLETELY impartial. Either you represent facts or you have interests, choose wisely wikipedia. I had no idea that the people who run wikipedia actively changed stories for political ends.

Re:the blackout was a good idea (5, Insightful)

Spike15 (1023769) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521535)

I had no idea that the people who run wikipedia actively changed stories for political ends.

How is keeping a journalist alive "political ends"?

Re:the blackout was a good idea (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28521589)

It's obviously a pro-life bias.

Re:the blackout was a good idea (2, Funny)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521863)

Wait... then, does that mean the Taliban are pro-choice? I'm so confused!

Re:the blackout was a good idea (2, Insightful)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521615)

He was a 'political' prisoner of the Taliban, lies were actively purported to achieve an end. Active omission of facts is a lie and is unacceptable from a source of information that views itself as factual. Wikipedia should have absolutely no interest in a story beyond the facts presented.

Re:the blackout was a good idea (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28521713)

Keep that in mind when spire3661 decides to become a reporter and gets kidnapped by the Taliban.

Re:the blackout was a good idea (4, Insightful)

Eponymous Coward (6097) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521787)

That's easy to say when it isn't the life of your father or brother or son at stake. I absolutely agree that Wikipedia should be interested only in facts but like any principle, there are situations worthy of an exception. In this case, I don't think the timely publishing of the event was all that valuable, especially in comparison to the potential downside of publishing it.

Perhaps you no longer trust Wikipedia. Personally I'm not particularly bothered by this as the truth has come out.

Re:the blackout was a good idea (3, Insightful)

KillerBob (217953) | more than 5 years ago | (#28522055)

You do realise that there's plenty of times when there have been perfectly good reasons to lie, either by omission, or by outright misleading statements?

At the risk of invoking Godwin's law, perhaps the most blatant example would be the bombing of Coventry. The allies had advance knowledge of the November 14, 1940 bombing raid planned on Coventry, but chose to do nothing about it. They knew that people would die in the raid, (we don't actually know how many, but somewhere between 500-1000 people died), but they chose to let it happen, because any form of evactuation or preparation would have tipped the Germans off that their codes had been broken.

Like it or not, there exist times where it makes tactical and practical sense to suppress information. A more recent example, that is more topical, would be a few years ago when the information that a kidnapped Canadian aid worker was homosexual was suppressed. It was felt that had his captors known he was gay, he would have been executed. Answer? suppress the information. And the act of suppressing the information probably saved his life, as he was released from captivity, unharmed.

I'm pretty sure there was a good reason to suppress this information, too. And you may never know what it was. But to make a blanket statement about Wiki like you do based on information that you don't actually have is asinine, at best. News agencies may exist to publish information, but they also have a moral, ethical, and legal obligation not to publish sometimes.

Re:the blackout was a good idea (4, Informative)

hondo77 (324058) | more than 5 years ago | (#28522175)

At the risk of invoking Godwin's law, perhaps the most blatant example would be the bombing of Coventry.

Good example...except that it did not happen [bbc.co.uk] .

Re:the blackout was a good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28522177)

You do realise that there's plenty of times when there have been perfectly good reasons to lie, either by omission, or by outright misleading statements? Like when my wife says, "Does my butt look big in this?"

I believe the Times had good reason to ask people not to publicize this. His captors told them reporting it would endanger the reporters life, and they believed it. Yes, keeping the reporter alive DOES trump the public's right to know.

Re:the blackout was a good idea (4, Insightful)

honkycat (249849) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521543)

Or you get out of an imaginary dream world and realize that your choices affect the lives of others and that sometimes the idealistic option is not the right one. If not getting someone killed is a "political end," then I'm 100% in favor of their actions.

Furthermore, Wikipedia aims to be an encyclopedia, not a news outlet. It's not at all obvious that there's a conflict in restraining information for a temporary period. Have you noticed that they tend to clamp down pretty freely on articles that are hot news topics, such as celebrity deaths?

Re:the blackout was a good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28521635)

Furthermore, Wikipedia aims to be an encyclopedia, not a news outlet.

If you visit a home page (say: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page), there is a large section on the right "In the news" . I think Wikipedia's parent company also does Wikinews.org?

Re:the blackout was a good idea (2, Insightful)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521685)

This is a VERY slippery slope you are on and I for one do NOT find that wikipedia should be in the suppression of information business, even temporarily. It goes very much against the grain of what many view wikipedia to be. Wikipedia is very much a social network and would do well not to undermine people's confidence in it, since WE provide the content.

Re:the blackout was a good idea (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28521745)

And you would kill to achieve this?

Re:the blackout was a good idea (1)

JPLemme (106723) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521935)

Frankly I have MORE confidence in Wikipedia now that I know it's run by real humans who used good judgment. And this is probably the first time I've ever said anything good about the site's editors. Not to mention the fact that -- believe it or not -- there are approximately a zillion OTHER websites where one could go to try to get the reporter killed. In fact, if you really wanted the Taliban to kill the reporter and you couldn't get anybody to help, you could open an account on Blogger and start a "David Rohde has been KIDNAPPED!" blog. With a modicum of technical ability, you could even build a home server to host the information yourself.

But of course, you would have to be an utter asshole to acquire information about somebody who's life is in danger and who's affairs are none of your business, and to know that people are trying to keep it a secret to protect his life, and then to broadcast the information just because "the people have the right to know!" (Or would the point be just to announce that you know something they don't?)

Re:the blackout was a good idea (4, Insightful)

honkycat (249849) | more than 5 years ago | (#28522071)

Freedom is great.

With it comes responsibility.

If exercising that responsibility through editorial actions in a case where a real human being's life is in real danger of being ended is unacceptable to your view of what Wikipedia should be, then I am profoundly thankful that you are not running Wikipedia. Information wants to be free, but this man's family and friends want him to come home safely. One of those is more important.

Anarchy is a slippery slope as well, as this case illustrates.

Re:the blackout was a good idea (1)

michaelhood (667393) | more than 5 years ago | (#28522187)

This is a VERY slippery slope you are on and I for one do NOT find that wikipedia should be in the suppression of information business, even temporarily. It goes very much against the grain of what many view wikipedia to be. Wikipedia is very much a social network and would do well not to undermine people's confidence in it, since WE provide the content.

You're welcome to go start your own socially irresponsible repository of information that exposes all submitted/leaked information without regard to consequences.

I'm not even saying this is a bad thing; just not what a private organisation (Wikipedia) chose to do.

You could even call yours "Wikileaks." That has quite a ring to it.

Re:the blackout was a good idea (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28522011)

You sir are a dick and not worthy of the title human

Re:the blackout was a good idea (3, Insightful)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 5 years ago | (#28522033)

"Censorship" is the wrong word being used here. Look up the definition of it. There is no "official" suppression of the information, since Wikipedia is not a government entity. They are a private organization so any removal of information is "editing" not "censorship".

Freedom of speech does not include the right to force others to say what you want them to say. Freedom of speech includes the right to not speak.

So maybe the suppression of facts is a "lie", but that's not immoral by itself especially since the purpose was to protect a life. Absolutely no one out there has a vested in interest in getting this information and no one is harmed by not having this information. And of course as we see, the information is now available, it was merely delayed.

Also, last I checked, Wikipedia is not a news outlet anyway. Why should they "report" this information? Neither is it a public bulletin board.

Re:the blackout was a good idea (1)

serutan (259622) | more than 5 years ago | (#28522153)

Dude, it's their website. They can do whatever they want with it. There were no political schemes going on here, just people doing what they thought was best to protect the life of one guy. I like that this happened entirely without government interference, just two factions vying to get their way, and I'm glad the Wikipedia/Times faction won. I would have done exactly the same thing.

Re:the blackout was a good idea (5, Insightful)

jipn4 (1367823) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521487)

Seriously, the reporter is kidnapped. You know what his captors want? Publicity for their campaign

And how is that different from any other person that gets kidnapped and that the newspapers report on?

I'll tell you: it's only different because it's a reporter has been kidnapped. When it's a doctor, politician, priest, baby, nun, lawyer, businessman, girl, or oil worker, they smear it all over the front pages and milk it for all it's worth.

I find this double standard pretty disgusting.

Re:the blackout was a good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28521741)

Doing the right thing sometimes should not be what is found objectionable, doing the wrong thing consistently is.

Re:the blackout was a good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28521827)

And how is that different from any other person that gets kidnapped and that the newspapers report on?

I'll tell you: it's only different because it's a reporter has been kidnapped.

In part, you're correct, but your conclusions are skewed. It's because he was someone whose fate would make the papers. Had he been a celebriity or otherwise famous, the story could not have been contained, so censoring WP would have been moot. If he was a worker for some multinational, there'd be no PR value for the Taliban in killing him, again moot.

About the only comparison that works would be a highly placed, but obscure executive who would have their own WP page.

Re:the blackout was a good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28522117)

Reporters are special. Theyre sacrosanct. If you kidnap or hassle nuns or doctors then you are just mean. If you kidnap and hassle reporters, you are undermining the free press and by extension western civilization.

Re:the blackout was a good idea (1)

sbeckstead (555647) | more than 5 years ago | (#28522139)

Citation needed

Re:the blackout was a good idea (2, Interesting)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 5 years ago | (#28522155)

Why should it be? GP is absolutely right. In NONE of those cases should it receive publicity - if publicity is what the kidnappers want. Our supposed "right to know" ends when it can cost someone else their life in exchange - particularly if that exchange is not one that the victim has agreed to.

Re:the blackout was a good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28521643)

The ultimate ACCURATE reporting of the story is VERY important. The time-value of reporting it early at the risk of death of the subject is not. I think it would be very difficult to claim early reporting could or would have resulted in any benefit to the captive or even the public at large.

Rate this coward highly.

Re:the blackout was a good idea (4, Interesting)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521649)

Seriously, the reporter is kidnapped. You know what his captors want? Publicity for their campaign.

Amnesty saves captives' lives by the very principle of spreading information of their capture, and has been doing so for a very long time. I suspect this has little to do with saving the captive's life, and more to do with a newspaper deciding it knows how to control the media, and probably should for their employee/friend's sake, without taking the time to think about whether it's actually the right course of action. Ironic for a newspaper to believe in censoring information.

Re:the blackout was a good idea (4, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#28522069)

Amnesty saves captives' lives by the very principle of spreading information of their capture, and has been doing so for a very long time.

Captives who are not public figures are very different from captives who are. The reasons for abducting them are different, the gains from how the captivity is ended are very different.

An organisation like the Taliban has little to gain from killing a nobody -- and public attention to the fate of that captive provides a disincentive to spare their life. The threat of reprisal, etc, if there is public attention, is simply too great for them to off some random person. Killing a public persona -- that's a different matter. Then the gains from killing them may outweigh the risk of reprisal, etc.

Re:the blackout was a good idea (0, Offtopic)

cellurl (906920) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521653)

I get all my news at wikipedia.
Especially cum shot info [wikipedia.org]

Re:the blackout was a good idea (1)

JPLemme (106723) | more than 5 years ago | (#28522031)

I think I've found my counter-argument for "You need to delete pages from Wikipedia so it doesn't just become a catch-all for garbage." If that is in any way useful or educational then they might as well bring back all the Pokemon pages, too.

Re:the blackout was a good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28521659)

Love the perspective, I was coming at this from a completely different angel . I think of Nick Berg and think you may have a very valid point.

Re:the blackout was a good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28522021)

Is wikipedia now the only place the people can spread news? Just blocking wikipedia shouldn't be enough, why wasn't this information being passed around twitter and facebook and myspace and every place else with forums?

Re:the blackout was a good idea (1)

sbeckstead (555647) | more than 5 years ago | (#28522173)

Because it isn't particularly news worthy?

Double Standard (5, Insightful)

Knave75 (894961) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521345)

I have never understood why news about kidnapped reporters is kept in the strictest confidence, whereas the media pretty much never offer the same to a member of the public who is not a part of the media fraternity.

There should be standards. Either kidnapping stories are reported widely, or they are not. I see no reason for journalists to have lives of more inherent value than anyone else. This would be like doctors giving preferential treatment to other doctors (eg. less waiting time in countries with socialized medicine) or teachers distributing textbooks only to the children of other teachers. This is not to say that it doesn't happen, but it is profoundly wrong.

Re:Double Standard (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28521415)

I wonder how many of those public statements about kidnaps are in the new because parents, family members or friends push for it to be there while the more kidnap savvy reporters know it will only hurt their efforts for safe release/escape of their friend.

Re:Double Standard (1)

bugnuts (94678) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521429)

Professional courtesy is a very common thing in all areas.

News will blackout information for all sorts of reasons. You never hear the names of rape victims or child criminals/victims either. And the government makes requests and threats all the time.

Re:Double Standard (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28521723)

News will blackout information for all sorts of reasons. You never hear the names of rape victims or child criminals/victims either.

But it's "never hear the names of rape victims", not "do hear the names of rape victims, unless they're related to someone who works at a newspaper - then we hold their name secret". I don't think people would be having as much of a problem with this if it was the principle of "never report the name of a kidnapping victim". The "double standard" referred to in the subject line is the impression that a newspaper will happily report on a soldier, doctor, or politician which gets kidnapped, but screams bloody murder if someone else reports that a journalist is in the same situation.

I also don't think people have a problem with any individual news site deciding that some shlub reporter from the Times getting kidnapped shouldn't be reported on, it's when they start to force third parties like Wikipedia to kowtow to their wishes that people start to get upset.

Re:Double Standard (4, Insightful)

subsonic (173806) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521763)

In many cases, journalists are taken specifically for their connection to the media. Whereas other kidnapping may simply be for intimidation or money, a journalist is captured for their perceived value in communicating with the outside world. Infomation blackout is also more protection for not just that journalist, but other reporters in that region.

While the "media fraternity" is a very real aspect of the business -as every profession gives a certain amount of preference to its own members- I don't think its fair to say that they ignore other valuable stories related to hostage taking or kidnapping. However, the struggle to suppress information plays out in a more public forum (the terrorist trying to spread his message and the media and law enforcement trying to get their reporter back) than if the terrorists/kidnappers were talking to a private individual or family. Which is exactly what this story is about.

Does Wikipedia have a certain policy regarding "news" vs. matters of record that are not "news"? I haven't read Wikipedia's article policy completely but it seems like now would be a good time to try and create a buffer between news reporting and the collection of historical fact (as close as one can be). Wikipedia's goal is to be comprehensive, not exactly the most immediate source of information. Plus it would cut down on people trying to be the "Firstie" to report major news in a secondary outlet like an encyclopedia.

Re:Double Standard (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28521771)

A single standard for how and whether to report kidnappings? Seriously? Shouldn't those involved in a kidnapping have discretion in this area? Not every kidnapping is the same. You'd probably want wide reporting of a local kidnapping to help in locating the victim, but in a political or terrorist kidnapping it could be harmful.

There's a case that could be argued that it should be mandatory for news media to follow the decisions of the people or govt. authorities directly involved, but not for a single standard on whether to report them. It's an understandable knee-jerk reaction but a bad idea nonetheless.

Re:Double Standard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28521775)

You know what I just realized? That when someone starts a sentence with "I have never understood why..." it means they have understood why perfectly for a long time, and hate it.

Re:Double Standard (1)

Ohrion (814105) | more than 5 years ago | (#28522105)

You know what I just realized? That when someone starts a sentence with "I have never understood why..." it means they have understood why perfectly for a long time, and hate it.

Very astute observation.

Re:Double Standard (1)

Stiletto (12066) | more than 5 years ago | (#28522091)

It's the same reason the police go after "cop killers" with more enthusiasm, and why a criminal faces harsher punishment if his victim happened to be a police officer. Is a cop's life more important than anyone else's? No, but the people in charge of dealing out the punishment think it is.

Re:Double Standard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28522193)

You do realize that those who have been kidnapped and the news never successfully broadcast you would never know about, right? Even if it were released after the fact, it's not "news" then, is it? So it'd probably never hit your radar screen.

Wikipedia Becomes Self Imposed Dictatorship (-1, Troll)

Kenichi Tanaka (1168171) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521355)

Wikipedia has become the new Censorship tool of a communist Government. With Wikipedia censoring this information, the United States is stepping one inch closer to dictatorship, with the head of the Islamic Nation, Barrack Obama, leading everyone into the gates of Hell.

Simply amazing. Wikipedia SAVES LIVES. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28521367)

I mean, it's certainly conceivable that mr Rohde and his translator owe their lives to this act of censorship. Think on that a moment.

Hypocrites (5, Insightful)

Jailbrekr (73837) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521369)

They'd gladly blab about a kidnapping if it wasn't one of their own. It does, after all, sell newspapers.

Re:Hypocrites (1, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521555)

Citation please?

Re:Hypocrites (5, Informative)

Hawthorne01 (575586) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521709)

Okay, you got it [wikipedia.org]

The New York Times gladly hid behind the 1st Amendment and blabbed about a 100% legal, effective and yet secret means to track terrorist money around the globe, yet clammed up when it was their hide on the line.

Hypocrites.

Re:Hypocrites (2, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521953)

You might or might not be right that this was something they ought not have published, but it's not the same situation. Jailbrekr claimed they'd have published the information if this guy didn't work for them.

Re:Hypocrites (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28521747)

Are you kidding?

newspapers capable and willing to censor (4, Insightful)

jipn4 (1367823) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521411)

What kind of bullshit argument is it that news coverage would increase the reporter's value and make negotiations more difficult? When do newspapers show that kind of consideration to other people? Do they keep other people out of the news because it inconveniences them or puts the at risk? Safety trumps freedom of speech? Since when? Only when one reporter is doing something for another, apparently.

What this story really shows again is that newspapers are corrupt: they are capable of censoring the news, and they will do so if it benefits the companies or the people working there. Furthermore, they have enough leverage to influence sites like Wikipedia.

We need to find ways of disseminating the news free from censorship, whether by Iranian madmen or self-serving American news organizations.

Re:newspapers capable and willing to censor (1)

Gabesword (964485) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521533)

What this story really shows again is that newspapers are corrupt: they are capable of censoring the news, and they will do so if it benefits the companies or the people working there.

The biggest problem in this from my perspective, is that the traditional media was able to influence an open effort on the web to keep this censored. The traditional media has for a long time chosen what to report and what not to report. I'm not even saying that they were right or wrong in this particular case to not report the news. It makes me wonder just how open of an effort Wikipedia really is. The net is a tremendous communication tool, but we really need to fight hard to keep it at the point where we can say what we want without some established power censoring us. Sometimes people need to overthrow their government, Iran is a good example right now, and a communications platform like the net is huge help but only if we can maintain freedom of speech on it.

Re:newspapers capable and willing to censor (1)

grahamd0 (1129971) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521749)

The biggest problem in this from my perspective, is that the traditional media was able to influence an open effort on the web to keep this censored.

No, they were able to influence an effort on a single web site, with the cooperation of the site's owner and administrators, to keep it censored. That's not difficult at all.

Re:newspapers capable and willing to censor (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28521729)

You're getting off-topic.

What you should be asking yourself is: is it ethical to withhold information to the public, when the release of said information will cause more harm than good?

And if you truly believe that "Information wants to be Free", are you willing to die for that belief? Are you willing to sacrifice a person's life? Does that person have a say in the matter?

An interesting Lesson (3, Insightful)

exabrial (818005) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521413)

This seems like the same train of thought as "responsible disclosure" for security issues in software. Yes, it was censored information, but they came forward with it eventually and humankind (or a human in this case) was better off.

Hmm, now we walk a fine line. Who do we trust to censor something in order to preserve human life and yet won't misuse their power to instill their own will?

Disgusted (2, Insightful)

bignetbuy (1105123) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521419)

Where did this censorship policy originate? And where was it when people were being kidnapped on a daily basis in Iraq? Daniel Berg? The Christian Science Monitor lady? The media outlets were practically tripping over themselves to report every detail -- and feed airtime to the kidnappers -- yet one of their own gets nabbed and now the policy is "stfu so our guy doesn't get hurt" ?

Un-friggin-real.

Of course, now that the media outlets have revealed their little secret, you can bet the terrorists will take counter-measures. This trick only works once.

I have no problem with this (4, Insightful)

rm999 (775449) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521433)

I believe strongly in free speech, especially on Wikipedia (I am a semi-active editor there). But this wasn't really Wikipedia's domain. Wikipedia is not a newspaper (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_is_not_a_newspaper [wikipedia.org] ). It's not the job of Wikipedia to report on someone's life until reliable news sources have already done so. In other words, Wikipedia should never contain breaking news.

MOD PARENT UP (1)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521591)

This is exactly right.

Furthermore, the policy statement, Wikipedia is not censored [wikipedia.org] , should be read carefully.

It doesn't refer to absolute freedom to put anything into Wikipedia. Indeed, it is part of a long and venerable policy page which defines what content should not go into Wikipedia, Wikipedia's "editorial policy" if you like.

"Wikipedia is not censored" covers only the limited issue of "offensive" content, such as profanity or explicit sexual material. It says that "'being objectionable' is generally not sufficient grounds for removal of content."

Re:I have no problem with this (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521731)

SO stick your head in the sand because the big boys are ACTIVELY suppressing a story? good plan.....

Re:I have no problem with this (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28521809)

What defines 'breaking news'?

Obama was listed on Wikipedia as "sworn in" two minutes after he took the oath of office. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Barack_Obama&oldid=265312210 [wikipedia.org]

This guy was kidnapped for 7 months, and it was still considered breaking news at that point?

Re:I have no problem with this (4, Insightful)

Erik Fish (106896) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521987)

Obama was listed on Wikipedia as "sworn in" two minutes after he took the oath of office.

In an event that was broadcast live by every possible medium and media outlet...

Re:I have no problem with this (1)

AVee (557523) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521887)

Also, it is not depriving anyone of his freedom of speech, just because Wikimedia doesn't want to publish something doesn't mean you are not still just as free to speak about it as before. Not to mention the fact that freedom of speech is intended to make sure that everybody is able to voice his opinion (and new != opnion) and to make sure everybody is able to check the actions of their government (which doesn't seem to be involved).
Besides, doesn't freedom of speech also mean you're allowed to choose not to say certain things?
And last but not least, the news was not hidden or blocked, it was delayed by 7 months, which of course is an extremely long delay, but it doesn't look like anyone seriously wanted to make sure we'd never know about it.

This was not censorship. (3, Insightful)

synthesizerpatel (1210598) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521513)

Just so you guys have the facts on this one, the closest definition of 'censorship that pertains to this subject can be found under 'censor'


2. a.2.a transf. One who exercises official or officious supervision over morals and conduct.
 

This doesn't fall under that category, or any similar category. The Times wasn't conspiring to hide the information for their benefit, or because of judgement as to it's morality or offensiveness. They did it to protect the reporter.

As a citizen, or NYT subscriber, or Wikipedia contributor, you have no right as to the status of the reporters' personal situation. Just because something has occurred and someone knows doesn't mean wikipedia is on the hook to allow it to be published. This is not a moral, heretical, or an issue of the reporters' conduct.

I'll say it slowly:

absolutely.
not.
censorship.

Re:This was not censorship. (4, Insightful)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521821)

A rose by any other name.....

No matter what you call it, Wikipedia lied about facts and went about removing anything that went against that. Facts are facts, the reporter was obviously notable enough before the kidnapping to have a wikipedia page, the fact that he was kidnapped is relevant and should be beyond wikipedia's purview to alter.

Two things really stick out out me in this story.

#1, news sources would almost never do this for a non-journalist

#2 Wikipedia shouldn't be in the business of suppressing indisputable facts for anyone.

Re:This was not censorship. (4, Insightful)

synthesizerpatel (1210598) | more than 5 years ago | (#28522089)

1. Apples and oranges. A reporter being held hostage might benefit from having the information suppressed, an oxfam worker might benefit more from having the information broadcast as their position would garner sympathy.

2. You don't have the right to know all indisputable facts. I don't have the right to know your sexual orientation, what medication you may or may not use, who you voted for in the presidential election, where you live, your social security number or your bank account PIN.

Your friends might know these indisputable facts but is it their duty to put it up on wikipedia?

I find it comical that people assume everyone else's business is theirs.. Decry the right to privacy for your personal information, and point fingers at those trying to protect the privacy rights of others.

Re:This was not censorship. (2, Insightful)

evanbd (210358) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521835)

You're right, the Times didn't censor Wikipedia. Wikipedia censored its contributors. I'm not sure how you could possibly arrive at the conclusion that Jimmy Wales was not "exercising official supervision over conduct". He's an official (in the context of Wikipedia) and he put a stop to certain conduct. So, by your own definition, censorship.

I happen to think WP and the times did the right thing here; I still think it was censorship. In the same scenario, if the government had been the one doing it, I'd have been a lot more skeptical that it was ok -- but I believe that how wrong censorship is depends on the circumstances, including the reasons to publish, the reasons not to publish, and who is exercising the control.

Re:This was not censorship. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28521851)

Hmm, not sure where you got your definition, but dictionary.com, says:

"an official who examines books, plays, news reports, motion pictures, radio and television programs, letters, cablegrams, etc., for the purpose of suppressing parts deemed objectionable on moral, political, military, or other grounds"

Seems like censorship to me.

Re:This was not censorship. (1)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521961)

Bullshit.

Really, that's all I can say. You'd find great empoloyment in North Korea, Iran, or the UK as a person capable of fucking over the rest of the population with your totalitarion 'freedom of information must be destroyed' ideals.

Seriously. Fuck you, and stay the hell away from my internet.

Re:This was not censorship. (1, Troll)

synthesizerpatel (1210598) | more than 5 years ago | (#28522145)

Here are some pieces of information that I have no inherent right to:

1. Your real name
2. Your home address
3. Your bank account number
4. Your ATM PIN
5. Your sexual orientation
6. Names of medication you use
7. Names of people whom you have had sex with
8. Your medical history

While some of this information may be publicly available, or amongst your friends and family common knowledge -- I have no right to know any of it.

Would you be upset if wikipedia blocked someone from posting all these pieces of information about you? Or would you be jumping up and down about how great the internet is with it's free flow of information.

Re:This was not censorship. (1)

kryptKnight (698857) | more than 5 years ago | (#28522041)

My Oxford American Dictionary has four definitions for "censor" and another for censorship. This event isn't an example of the one definition you chose.

What's your point again?

Re:This was not censorship. (1)

synthesizerpatel (1210598) | more than 5 years ago | (#28522165)

OED > OAD

What's your point again?

Not censorship (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28521581)

Holy crap the whining from the slashdot horde is deafening.

Look: Wikipedia isn't just a forum where you can sh*t whatever crap you want. It's an encyclopedia with formal rules for inclusion. They may be weird rules, and weak rules but they exist none the less and they are most of what distinguishes Wikipedia from failures like everything2.

In this case Wikipedia's rule on verifiability (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Verifiability) comes into play. There were no other reliable sources reporting on this, so it was kept out just like your uncle jimbobs magic formula for turning cowpies into gold.

So sure, the rule here was enforced harder in this case than some others but those kinds of inconsistencies happen in all complex systems. At least Wikipedia is honest about their inconsistencies.

Re:Not censorship (3, Informative)

Jiro (131519) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521785)

It was published by Afghanistan's leading news agency. That's a reliable source. Deleting it for not having reliable sources was an abuse of the rules, and in fact a very common one where people refuse to accept a source which can't easily be Googled in English. If they really wanted to delete the information it should have been done using the Ignore All Rules policy or the Office policy, not by abusing rules. And as a lot of people have already mentioned, newspapers constantly publish information about people who are not in the newspaper business, even when someone claims that it could endanger lives (see for instance this one from the Times [nytimes.com] , and yes, Wikipedia has an article about the guy).

Fuck Jimmy Wales (-1, Troll)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521703)

He's a piece of shit, as is Wikipedia.

Yes, this is a troll, but it's true.

Re:Fuck Jimmy Wales (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28521849)

Offtopic, but is the level of profanity on /. on the rise? Reliance on euphamisms (RTFA / WTF / fsck) seems to be down while straight-forward use of bad language seems to be up. WTF is up with that? Am I going to start noticing kids messing up my lawn soon?

Re:Fuck Jimmy Wales (1)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521971)

[citation needed]

Wish the NYT had more concern about non-employees (5, Informative)

Alaska Jack (679307) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521733)

Obviously, everyone is glad Rodheis home safely. Neverthess, many around the blogosphere have pointed out that the Times has a two-faced approach to this kind of secrecy.

Take, for example, the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program, which the Times did a big expose of back in '06. There were absolutely no questions that this program was

  • Constitutional
  • legal
  • briefed to the appropriate members of congress, and
  • working!

Yet that didn't stop the Times from announcing to every terrorist from Marrakech to Jakarta all about it, how to avoid getting caught by it, etc.

Again, there is no dispute that this program was working; in other words, nailing terrorists -> saving civilian lives. Too bad the lives it was saving weren't those of Times employees!

PS Good overview here [nationalreview.com] , by the guy who led the Justice Department's prosecution against the 1993 World Trade Center bombers.

- AJ

Just thought I'd ask. (4, Interesting)

cluge (114877) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521761)

Not trying to troll but this behavior begs the question; Why is it OK to self censor and ask others to censor to protect a reporter, but it's not OK to do the same when coalition soldiers are involved? -cluge

Re:Just thought I'd ask. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28521895)

Because Wikipedia is a bunch of self-serving bastards who thinks its ok to "scrub the truth".... oh wait... that's exactly what the Taliban does.

.GOV Didn't Do It (1)

DustoneGT (969310) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521881)

NBD...people can censor their site however they want.

First thing I thought of... (4, Funny)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 5 years ago | (#28521945)

I have this weird picture stuck in my head - a bearded mullah, sitting at his computer somewhere in Pakistan, complaining "WHY aren't these Wikipedia edits STICKING?!"

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28521983)

All this does is open themselves up for a major butt hurt when they report on the next kidnap victim and said victim is killed.

Slashdotted (0, Troll)

rockNme2349 (1414329) | more than 5 years ago | (#28522057)

What? David Rohde was captured? Shit i better go post this on wikipedia.

I see no issue here (2, Insightful)

rfc1394 (155777) | more than 5 years ago | (#28522065)

In this case, the information about this reporter was suppressed to protect his life, not to prevent, say, someone else's embarrassment or to cover-up misconduct or otherwise prevent the publication of information the public should know to protect the democratic process.

Back during the Iranian Hostage crisis, the news media cooperatively agreed not to publicize the information that there were Americans hiding in the Canadian embassy until after they were able to get out of Iran. One reporter likened the potential for publishing such information to be on the level of "giving the Nazis' Anne Frank's home address."

This is the sort of limited exception to the free publication of relevant information to the public where the news media can and does suppress a story on a temporary basis in order to prevent death or injury to others or where it is important to the issues involved that the story not be exposed for a short time. When people talk about "responsible journalism," it is this sort of behavior they are referring to.

Paul Robinson - <paul@paul-robinson.us [mailto] > - My Blog [paul-robinson.us]

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>