Thursday, November 29, 2012

How Reporters Should Use Wikipedia

We all use Wikipedia, but often the way we consult the website personally influences the way we use it professionally.

For example, let's say you're at a happy hour where someone in your huddle raises a question. You look it up on Wikipedia. Now say you're in the office. You've just submitted an article to your editor, who raises a question about one of your facts. Instinctively, you turn to Wikipedia. How you practice is how you’ll perform come game day.

This is why it's so important for reporters to approach the website warily, just as they would a suspect source. In one sentence, David Carr nails this framework:

“Writers all use Wikipedia, but part of the bargain we have with our readers is that we go further, building on what we have learned there and rendering it through the prism of our thinking and writing.”