Talk:CNN journalist fired for controversial Twitter message

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Was she definitely fired? It says here "she left her post permanently." That reads like she resigned instead of being fired. Either way (talk) 21:16, 8 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]

yeah i was wondering how to put this--most articles are saying 'fired', but the whole point of putting in the 'she talked to her boss' thing is that when you read that quote they try to pitch it like 'they came to an agreement and she left.' but maybe that gives her too much agency in this scenario, since it wasnt like a 'you cant fire me because i quit scenario' so much as 'you are definitely fired but we have to make it seem cordial for PR' thing. i'm not sure how to proceed. Parkbench (talk) 21:52, 8 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]

i rephrased it. what do you think? i did another big edit to the article to get rid of some of the tangential details about fadlallah's life and delve into more of the response from the blogosphere and arab media. i gotta stop soon though or i could edit this thing to oblivion. and you know it shouldnt all just be my input anyway. Parkbench (talk) 01:57, 9 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]


so i'm not trying to jump the gun or anything, i'm just curious how this process works (first time, giggle). is this now waiting for an "approved" reviewer to give it the green light or send it back for more revisions? or is that on me?

thanks, Parkbench (talk) 05:42, 9 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Your first guess is right: waiting for an approved reviewer. Article is third in a queue of five, but reviewers don't always pick reviews in order. Typically wait 12 to 24 hours for a review, except for the hottest news. --InfantGorilla (talk) 06:27, 9 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]
thanx! Parkbench (talk) 11:02, 9 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]


Having read this a couple of times, my gut feeling is that it is not as impartial as it could be. My reaction isn't strong enough to plaster a big "NPOV" banner over the top of the article (which knocks it out of the review queue.)

However my suggestion is that gives an appearance of being pro-Nasr and perhaps a little anti-Israel.

It is natural for us as fellow journalists (however unpaid) to support one of our own, but I don't think that is what Wikinews strives for.

Could you research to see if there are more newsworthy quotes from Israeli sources? As long as the bias doesn't go the other way, this may help a reviewer.

--InfantGorilla (talk) 14:13, 9 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]


I am wondering what you would suggest to improve the article and make it "neutral". My own biases are nothing hidden and I'd be happy to disclose them to anyone. But in this scenario what is important is actual commentary and comparative analysis. Where do you see that in the commentary condemning Nasr? It is all ad-hominem attacks and shaky ahistorical critiques. It is not an accident that the ones offering complex historical arguments from multiple angles are the ones who are "anti-Israel", as you claim (I think this is a misleading title and entirely loaded, though you may believe it to be objective). It is not an accident that the ones reinforcing standard mythology about Iran, Hizbullah, Muslims, Israel, Arabs, etc. are incapable of recognising or even speaking about privilege, systems of oppression, or politics in any way that does not remind you of celebrity gossip blogs, in any way that is nuanced enough to have respect for themselves and their readers.

The entire point and strength of an independent news source is precisely that it can provide alternative currents for a narrative which might otherwise be mainstreamed to the point of having absolutely nothing to do with reality, the realm of utter fantasy, like most of what happens in relation to Israel in the news. I was under the impression that wikinews, being what it is, would be precisely the opportunity to highlight those aspects of this narrative--like commentary from people in the Arab world and with actual experience and knowledge of its history, not talking heads like a Samuel Huntington or Thomas Friedman--which are essential to understanding this story but which get downplayed in the hegemonic media because it is not palatable to certain ears. There is very little out there about her actual firing, and even if there was, I am not sure how one would report on it without the real significance of the case being completely lost into a mere bundle of facts. The real story IS Fadlallah, IS how the US reacted to him as a 'figure', IS about the US's role in the Middle East, and Octavia Nasr is a vessel.

I understand the strategic necessity/evil of NPOV and even agree with it in a lot of ways, and I might even agree with your critique that more "pro-Israel" (I'm not sure what this actually means) voices should be put into the article. And I also understand that ideals are often one thing and practical realities are another--and that wikinews serves a specific role in internet news and that it's not my job to show up and demand that it be different. I'm just cognizant of the fact that this could very quickly become a way of compromising the integrity of the piece as it is, under the guise of an 'objectivity' that is no objectivity (glenn greenwald makes this point, actually, at the end of his piece ;)). NPOV, neutrality, objectivity...these are not innocent, ethereal & eternal categories, they have a history and this history is ugly, and so I am wary when it is brought to the table, especially on an issue as "contentious" as this, where any attempt to vouch for subaltern voices is consistently challenged as "anti-Israel" and "not fair"--one begins to think that a 6-month training course in anti-racist work and unlearning privilege & power would do this line of argument a lot of good, and set it down forever & always.

Thanks for your time so far in keeping an eye on this and I know you probably have good intentions; I just wanted to lay out how I was feeling about this honestly, and it seemed like a good opportunity. It's far too easy to get far too hostile on the Internet and I don't want to do that right off the bat, especially in a place I've just joined and want to be a part of in the long run. At the same time, I don't want to pretend to be someone I'm not--and I'd rather put myself out there then have it be something that has to be 'uncovered' later on.

I am still open to doing some more legwork and getting more reactions outside of just HonestReporting. I would like suggestions, however, and guidance in this matter, in light of what I've just posted. Parkbench (talk) 20:32, 9 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Thank you for taking the time to respond to me in detail.

I applaud you for writing a review of the media response to a broadcaster's reaction to a current event. Even though that is 3 levels of introspection, it seems to work and is interesting to all of us here who write, edit and review.

In my opinion:

  1. Wikinews is independent as you say, in that no one tells us what stories to cover, and that we can and should aim to cover as many viewpoints on a story as are relevant.
  2. However, whether by design or accident, Wikinews has evolved a rather bald style, where we state facts, put them in context, but leave interpretation to the reader. I may even go as far to say that, as you may have noticed, most writers avoid analysis of current affairs. (I have only read a fraction of the site's tens of thousands of articles, but that is my personal impression)
  3. While the quality of the debate from various parties may indeed be woeful, I think our stock solution is to aim to quote impartially, and allow those with weak, illogical, or illiberal arguments to be hoisted on their own petard, if you excuse the cliché.
  4. You have about 200 words of defense of Nasr and the cleric, and about 50 words of attack. If the story is the defense that is probably ok, but if the story is the attack, the firing, or the international politics of the cleric himself, then my suggestion is that Israelis and pro-Israeli sources should get more airing.

A quick question for you, as (you may have guessed) I know little about Lebanese society. Is it relevant that Nasr is Christian? (Very few sources mention that she is neither Jewish nor Muslim, nor have I heard whether she is a citizen of the US or of Lebanon.)

--InfantGorilla (talk) 12:58, 10 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]

This may be a bit out of date as I'm travelling and am not able to stay current with what's happening, however:
  • Wikinewsies cover stories which interest them. This is how wikis work.
  • Wikinews stories do deliberately avoid analysis and interpretation. This was a conscious push early in the development of wikinews specifically in reaction to MSM's trend toward only presenting analysis/interpretation and less presentation of the facts from which such is derived.
  • The assumption in your third point is the news event is the debate. It is not. The news event is the firing, and whether or not it may have been motivated for political rather than business reason.
  • I agree there is too much background. I mentioned this in my review comments. I don't judge whether that background is biased or not, because it does not detract from coverage of the news event; it may distract however.
- Amgine | t 16:29, 10 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]

InfantGorilla & AMGINE:

I'm glad you both have informed me more concretely about the driving philosophy behind WikiNews, as it certainly helps me in understanding the context of my own article and the context of the site in relation to the rest of the alt media/blogosphere. Let me respond to a few things:

On the surface, I think the idea of "quoting impartially" and letting weak arguments stand on their own is a noble one. It certainly makes sense as a starting principle for many different kinds of writing projects, and I found myself trying to do this at least somewhat in this article when I looked for sources to cite.

However, while you say that the difference between "MSM" and WikiNews would be the journalistic choice to not delve into analysis and interpretation, I think you might find that those within the MSM industry would often describe what they do in the same way. And I do not think this is an accident. I believe that by choosing to believe in the "impartiality of facts" both WikiNews and MSM, as far as ya'll have articulated it, are operating on the same basic principles in which there is less accountability for the context of social events and for the ethical role of the journalist in reporting in the first place.

What I'm trying to say is that "the facts" is not an innocent category. "The facts", as they are presented, are most commonly reported in the MSM in accordance with a particular historical/social/political climate in which what Octavia Nasr did is abhorrent. I was serious when I said that I challenge you to find relevant commentary that is following this tack. But "reporting the facts as they are" would be to do the opposite of journalism; it would be to accept the presentation of the narrative as it is and not actually do the research or homework to expose the complex network of people, organisations, and motivations which led to the event in the first place--especially since we're talking about an incredibly wealthy and incredibly powerful industry which has the institutional capacity to establish truth on its terms, such that even when people disagree with its version of events, they often get caught speaking on precisely the same terms anyway. This is what I would contend with the Octavia Nasr incident--it is true that the "facts as they are" stick to the event of her firing in isolation. But that is precisely the point: that it serves the interest of MSM media outlets to de-contextualise the actual story and its historical (and forget that--even recent, as glenn greenwald pointed out) antecedents and to present it as an entirely abstracted, individual moral dilemma, whose moral conclusion is, by the way, already predetermined in the writing of the story itself, in the institution of its story-telling, even as it is simultaneously presented as objective. In this way, the MSM can also fabricate the separate category of "analysis/opinion" such that the "main" content, that is, "the news", can continue to occupy the realm of supposedly accountable facticity, which mythologically maintains this status no matter how many times it has been proven that MSM outlets are constantly and indiscriminately engaged in distortions of events and in currying the favor of this or that lobby in their storytelling. This should offer a hint that something other than "communication" or "the exchange of facts" is going on; how is it that something which so publicly demonstrates its lack of accountability and willful indiscretion so often can still escape reprobation so totally? How is it that it can continue to speak with authority, to speak with such authority that those who even detest it find themselves with almost nowhere else to turn in order to speak authoritatively, the only way they have ever known how to speak about things by virtue of its prevalence and publicity? This is, at its most basic, to speak about power, about discourse, about the construction of knowledge...these are all the things the MSM has or has access to that we do as well, but not nearly to the same degree. Power reinforces and eternalises the mythological condition of "factual news reporting" such that undoing it appears to be an insane and utterly improbable project (again, no matter how many times it is demonstrated that this "counter-knowledge" approach produces effective results with empowering implications for the community of people involved in its articulation).

So while we may think that we are displaying impeccable moral discipline and professionalism by not engaging in "analysis", we could also end up producing news media that is little more than a hollow reflection of the kind of news already put out there by the MSM, giving WikiNews essentially no original role in the news-making process other than to make it more immediate and potentially more regionalist (allowing people from specific regions to publish more material on their communities than might otherwise be the case in MSM). Isn't this what hegemony means, by definition? That one creates a situation in which it is actually not possible to think in ways that have not already been established as 'normal'? That we end up fighting each other over whether we should give more room for the most rancorous hate for human beings under the imagined auspices of journalistic integrity instead of instantiating a qualitatively different way of interacting with social events in general and the news in particular?

The "weight of acknowledgment", as Spivak would say, in recognising the unavoidable subjectivity and interestedness of a project such as WikiNews would be to create accountability rather than denounce it. This alo does not necessarily imply "analysis", as you have said; the fact that many within the Arab world and those (as I said in my first reply) with a much more intimate and long-lasting relationship with Arab politics--that is, those who are not getting spoken for, those who are not in bed with the establishment of major corporate reporting and Washington policy-thought, like Mr. Friedman and Mr. Huntington--have chosen to speak about Fadlallah's relationship to the US at length is important. Especially since many of them were doing this within reaction pieces to the Octavia Nasr controversy--it's not digging very far to provide 'background' at all.

The simple truth, for me, is that we would only be reproducing fundamentally non-factual reporting that emphasised the scandal and spectacle of her firing rather than the network of power relationships that allowed someone to fire someone else for making such a statement about a Middle East leader in the first place.

I have rambled quite a bit and I don't know if I've accomplished anything other than demonstrate some kind of idealism which probably does not have a functional role in a solidified project with rules, regulations, and an established culture like WikiNews. At the same time, in line with my wanting to be utterly honest, I wanted to express exactly what I consider the stakes to be--even in my own abstruse and philosophically self-indulgent way--which is precisely the kind of thing a corporate MSM reporter not only would not do, but could not afford to do by virtue of the structure of their industry and the fundamental commitments they have found themselves bound up in.

In the end, it might still make sense to include some more "pro-Israeli" sources (I am still wondering what this means and am hoping you might clarify this for me, because it does not seem to indicate any one thing to me) given all that I have said. What I would contest is the removal of the 'background' which would be to essentially reproduce the non-issue debate fabricated by influential and powerful corporate media and Washington lobbies--and by this logic, we would actually never report anything at all but what people 'want to hear'.

PS: Just wanted to note something I realised on the way out the door: InfantGorilla, you claim that I have 50 words 'of attack' and '200 words about Nasr and the cleric'. It is interesting that you did not say 'defense', here, though you could've. But I think it's important--if one wanted to center this on Nasr and her firing a bit more, then one could have a back and forth speculating about the nature of Nasr's character, and I could have presented a 'defense'. On the other hand, though I read numerous pieces which discussed what she "possibly could have been thinking", or even sources which I cited here which went off and criticised even her apology, I did not choose to speculate on these matters, especially whether or not she was honest in her claim that she was sad because Fadlallah was a pseudo-feminist of some kind. Instead, like you said, those 200 words are simply about 'Nasr and the cleric', and more the cleric, to be honest. I chose to focus on the sign & symbol which enraged everyone so, Fadlallah, and why it was that a certain kind of person choosing to invoke that symbol might be fired from her job and a certain other kind of person choosing to invoke that symbol might not. I am not sure if you would categorise this as analysis or opinion; if you did, then I think almost every article worth its salt that I would feel comfortable writing, in which I would not feel I was abandoning my responsibility as someone with the (racial, economic, etc.) privilege to write about essentially whatever I please, would only fit on the "Opinion" pages of existing news articles. In which case, I would probably abandon WikiNews forever and never look back.

Then again, perhaps the power of WikiNews might precisely be that it imitates the form and function of an MSM outlet while subtly providing a different experience, in which case my complaints and my ethical anxieties would be a little beyond the pale--unreasonable, that is. I might be willing to concede this, in the sense that I might be 'looking a gift horse in the mouth', and damning all of the hard work and careful, honest intention that might have gone into this site's creation and continual maintenance. All potentially fair critiques, which can even exist simultaneously with my own critiques, I think. However, at the end of the day, one must establish limits and points of departure, no? And in this sense I stand by my statements thus far.

Parkbench (talk) 20:01, 11 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Re your postscript: if your selection of quotes was "analysis", it is not the kind of analysis that is banned here. An enlightening selection of quotes that highlights areas that are neglected by mainstream media, and puts events in context, is what we often aim for when we contribute synthesis articles (whether about an octopus or a religious leader.) Naturally, that leads to debate about whether the selection and presentation deserves out "publish" tag. Keep up the good work, and keep expecting others to challenge or edit your work here. --InfantGorilla (talk) 08:10, 12 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Parkbench: Wow, that's a fairly thick hedge of verbiage to work through. Here's my effort at understanding and participating in the conversation:
I think, on the whole, Wikinews is an experiment not in the content of news, but in the gatekeepers of who is allowed to report what as news. Unlike blogging, its fundamental nature is collaborative. (As such, in my opinion, it has proven to be a failed model primarily due to competition in doing exactly the same thing from en.Wikipedia: that is, collaborative news is highly successful on en.Wikipedia - which does very bad news coverage - but because that project allows news coverage it is very difficult to convince volunteers to contribute to a project which requires good news writing.)
Addressing the discussion of facts, an analogy: the content of a photo is constrained - it cannot include everything, and its nature, quality, and beauty are determined both by what is included, and by what is excluded. If you've ever attended a protest or a strike and then looked at pictures or video of the same event you may wonder if the two are at all related. A protest of a dozen people looks pitiful and silly from half-way down the block, but a close up of the same protesters through a doorway can look like an insurrection or a war zone. In the same way a journalist's selection of facts to present will likely give a specific bias or impression of a story.
But the facts themselves are not changed by their inclusion or exclusion, only the impression presented to the reader.
In my first journalism class we had a lecture from a reasonably famous journalist who had gone from print through radio to television news, and xe asked the traditional question: "What is the purpose of journalism?" It is to sell advertising. There are lovely essays on the importance of the fifth estate, on its value in social change and so on, but it does not exist except as an industry to arrest people's attention long enough to present advertising to them, be it overt (actual advertisements) or covert (using coverage to instill a public perception or opinion, more commonly known as propaganda.) Understanding this you can also understand all efforts to bias coverage of events.
How can Wikinews coverage of news events, then, be different? they aren't. Wikinewsies cover news which interests them - which usually means the contributor has a POV on a given subject, and will tend to select or avoid facts in order to promote that POV. However, with a requirement that each factual statement be supported by an external source, and that a third party not involved in creating the article review the article for bias before publication, our process deliberately and transparently takes steps to minimize bias and also puts a high editorial value on neutrality.
The two important points in that last sentence are transparently and high editorial value. In MSM there are applications of editorial values, generally conducted out of sight of the reading public. This still happens on en.Wikinews, usually in IRC, #Wikinews, but even there people will request that discussions be place on-wiki so everyone can see who came to what conclusions, where, when, why, and how they implemented those conclusions. Transparency, more than any other feature, even more than collaboration, highlights the Wikinews model. (This is why, though I tend not do so myself, I prefer to see all the steps which went into writing a news article here. Seeing dozens of edits to an article I can see how the contributors found facts, where, how it influenced what they were saying about the event, and so on.)
That transparency means Wikinews is always evolving. We can see where arguments happened in the past, but we can also see how things have changed over time and how we can improve them now. Wikinews policies are basically "how things are done", and we agree those policies can change as soon as the community has a discussion and reaches consensus on changing things. For this reason we are constantly having discussions about how we should do things, what is more/less ethical behaviour, whether the main page is too cluttered/doesn't have enough/should be beige. We should never stop questioning ourselves and our processes, any more than we should ever stop questioning the motives of government and industry. - Amgine | t 18:30, 20 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]

More Info[edit]

Just read a pretty good article from It contains some more pointed and I think pretty well-cited information, especially about the CIA bombing thing, which draws out more of what's actually at stake beyond just the kind of vague 'allegations' referred to by the BBC and other articles--showing how it was the product of a particular kind of investigative journalism that was at least on one register confirmed by someone within the CIA. What do ya'll think? Would it be okay to include it just as another source?

Also, question on the link to retweets of seems kind of relevant, as this is concerning social networking, what people are doing on twitter in response. There are also people who agree with the firing who are posting with that tag, though there are fewer. Could we include it in the opening paragraph with like a short 10-word sentence or something?

Finally, a related question: I'm not sure what the kind of 'grace period' for editing articles about recent news is like this. I'm sure the idea is to get to a point where the story is generally 'set' until perhaps a whole new development is discovered and then that gets its own article. But basically, is there a point at which we want to say, 'okay, this article is what it is for better or for worse, and we should direct any further investigative efforts into future articles?'

Thanks, Parkbench 21:52, 9 July 2010 (UTC)

Review of revision 1057002 [Passed][edit]

The author explained the reasons for his choice of style. If the lead flagged up the intended approach, the piece may read better, however.

Any comments on my neutrality concerns, Amgine?

--InfantGorilla (talk) 16:45, 9 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]


{{edit protected}} Please add this article to Category:CNN. Thank you. Green Giant (talk) 01:40, 13 September 2015 (UTC)[reply]

{{edit protected}} Please add this article to Category:Washington Post. Green Giant (talk) 22:33, 27 September 2015 (UTC)[reply]

Done --Pi zero (talk) 23:50, 27 September 2015 (UTC)[reply]