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Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2024-04-25/WikiProject report

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Masketta man
WikiProject report

WikiProject Newspapers (Not WP:NOTNEWS)

WikiProjects Newspapers and Magazines spun from WikiProject Journalism and like WikiProject Academic Journals, these projects focus primarily on the textual periodicals themselves rather the humans or organizational structures behind them.

They are killing trees to publish this pulp fiction article?!

News is what someone, somewhere, doesn't want reported: all the rest is advertisement.[1]

Behind the scenes in the wiki-lawyer trenches, hundreds of Wikipedia editors debate discuss with each at the Reliable sources/Noticeboard to which degree different sources are suitable for usage within Wikipedia articles. Is it news...or advertisements?

Wouldn't it be great if there existed a digital resource that readily made available the sum of human knowledge about various topics, something like an encyclopedia of different newspapers in order to help editors and readers alike ascertain the reliability of said sources?

Reading Skimming sources takes time, so Wikipedia users sometimes try to gloss over by checking whether there is a blue link, which could be an indicator that the article topic is notable. It may WP:SHOCK some, but it does not necessarily mean The Onion aka America's Finest News Source is reliable.

Conversely, a red link does not mean popular newspapers like Die neue Fußballwoche [de; fi] are unsuitable for usage within English Wikipedia for an article's source.

Tracking source usage within Wikipedia is already done for magazines and journals. You can find an example at WP:Magazines cited by Wikipedia and read last year's Signpost coverage about it.

In addition to the venerable Signpost, there are 11,666 articles inside WikiProject Newspapers and 11,957 articles inside WikiProject Magazines. These two projects are distant cousins of the more broad (pun intended) WikiProject Journalism.

We Are Not a Newspaper (sorta)

You are probably reading this WikiProject report on English Wikipedia's internal newspaper, Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost. If you don't know what The Signpost is, you can learn more about it on Wikipedia's article called The Signpost. The article was hopefully edited by uninvolved editors. What else is news? English Wikipedia's home page features the latest In The News. Despite all that, you should know that news is not WP:NEWS which is also not WP:NOTNEWS![FBDB] If you cannot access Newspapers.com or Newspapers.com you are likely better off visiting Wikipedia:Newspapers.com to access it for (500 edits) free. It is amazing anything gets published on this newsless site.


How did you get involved in these WikiProjects?

  • Sdkb: Part of it is that, as a journalist, I take a particular interest in journalism topics. But I also think it's a really important topic area for us to improve. In the broadest sense, what we're doing at Wikipedia is trying to improve the world's information ecosystem, and right now one of the biggest threats to that ecosystem is the polarization of news media and the public's resultant distrust in it. Wikipedia is one of the first places that someone may go to try to figure out what the deal is with a particular source, and if our article is written well, it may help them decide the extent to which they should — or shouldn't — trust it. (This of course includes sources first encountered as Wikipedia references.) That's a really valuable service.
  • Shushugah: While creating my first article on Benjamin Feigenbaum I kept seeing references to newspapers that did not have Wikipedia articles, but seemed notable. So I created Der Poylisher Yidl. One thing led to the next and I became interested in Jewish newspapers including Yiddish, Ladino and other Jewish language newspapers. In addition, I created some social movement/labour related newspaper articles.

What are some of the challenges you encountered and how did you address them?

  • Sdkb: Neutrality is certainly a challenge. Journalists and news organizations have to engage with controversial topics as part of their role, so this comes up often. Some articles I've written on individual journalists, like Lauren Wolfe, exist at the not-sweet spot at the intersection of having controversial elements (making them a target), being too obscure to have watchers/protection (making them vulnerable to vandalism), and BLP status (increasing harmful risk of non-neutral edits). For publications, avoiding criticism or controversy sections is something I'd urge (as I would anywhere), as they are a massive magnet for non-neutral content.
    Notability can also be a challenge, particularly for small-town papers like the Big Bear Grizzly, where the main source you'd expect to have coverage is the paper itself (WP:PRIMARY) which obviously cannot be used. Because of that, and because coverage of news organizations serves a unique role on Wikipedia by helping readers evaluate the reliability of sources used elsewhere in the encyclopedia, we had WP:NMEDIA, which for a long time was included in the notability sidebar and for other practical purposes treated as an Subject specific notability guidelines (SNG). I'm mostly on board with the elimination of SNGs, but I think this was a rare proper use of them, where the impetus is a set of circumstances in a topic area that makes coverage abnormally valuable to the encyclopedia or notability-qualifying sources abnormally hard to find, rather than just seeking to protect articles in an area that benefits from systemic bias. Unfortunately, back in the day when SNGs were being defined, NMEDIA slipped through the cracks and was never properly classified (being instead labelled as an explanatory supplement), and when this came to light in 2021 it was removed from the sidebar and reclassified as an essay. With some improvements, perhaps someday it'll be ready to go through the SNG approval process.

How do you find sources about a periodical that is widely cited in other publications but aren't about the periodical itself?

  • Shushugah: When I created libcom.org I filtered Google search with "-site:libcom.org" to exclude website subpages and also excluded url links like http://libcom.org because a study of website itself would likely only refer to it by its website name or Domain name
  • Sdkb: I use Shushugah's technique as well. Sometimes adding e.g. the word "newspaper" to a search about a newspaper will help turn up results about it as a newspaper rather than just mentions of stories it first reported. Some of the best sources on periodicals come from industry publications — for U.S. media, these include NiemanLab, Poynter, and the Columbia Journalism Review.

What is a publication related article you created or significantly expanded that you are proud of?

Sources are biased, ergo Wikipedia is biased. How do you counter system bias and ensure representation of non-English and non-digitized periodicals?

  • DavidMCEddy: (1) Countering system bias: I look for publications that might contradict my preconceptions. (2) Ensure representation in non-English periodicals: I have some fluency in Spanish, French, and German, and I occasionally find things worth citing in what I read in those other languages. Examples: (2a) I found a Spanish-language interview with with Manuela Carmena, former Mayor of Madrid, where she said, "We are infected with lies." I added that to the Wikiquote articles on her in both English and Spanish. (2b) In the French edition of Le Monde diplomatique, I read that Mao Zedong said in 1957 that ~"a nuclear war could kill a third of humanity, maybe half, BUT ALL THE IMPERIALISTS. A half-century or maybe a century later, the population would be destroyed, and everyone would live under socialism." I didn't feel that citation was sufficiently authoritative, but I felt a need to research that quote. So I posted a question about that to fr:Wikiquote:Discussion:Mao Zedong.
  • Sdkb: One thing to clarify: The scope of WikiProject Journalism is articles relating to journalism, not the use of journalism on Wikipedia generally. So when it comes to questions like how to use non-English sources as citations in articles generally, I'd consider that the domain of WikiProject Countering systemic bias or the reliable sources noticeboard. There are no easy answers there — our coverage of many areas of the world without a free press (e.g. China) undoubtedly suffers because we have deemed so many publications from those areas unreliable, but we also avoid unreliable sources for good reason. When choosing which source to cite for a fact that appears in multiple, my primary criterion will always be the source's quality, but if all else is equal, I'll favor an online/English/non-paywalled source just for ease of reader verification.

Anything else you would like to add?

  • Sdkb: One practice that I'd encourage more editors to adopt is linking names of publications in references. Assessing a source's reliability is a key task for readers with good information literacy, and being able to easily click through to see what we've written about its reputation aids significantly with that. No reader should have to blindly trust that an unfamiliar source being used in a reference is reliable.
    Also, a nitpick: Many news organizations have an annoying habit of including a the in their name. Be sure to check for this and refer to them properly if so. Editors Note: Get with the times!

Previous Signpost coverage


  1. ^ Source: media tycoon William Randolph Hearst