User talk:Moulton

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Moulton, welcome to Wikinews! I hope you like the place and decide to stay. Here are a few good links for newcomers:

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Regarding Comments:Student arrested over "art" shirt with exposed wiring at Boston Airport[edit]

I only happened to notice your addition there because I was checking Special:RecentChanges and after recognising your username (I'm a regular reader and infrequent commenter on the Wikipedia admin boards) I took a look at your contributions. I'm not going to claim that I know enough about your case to say you were either justly or injustly blocked, but I will point out that while Wikinews is not Wikipedia it does share some key facets, and incivility, disruptive editing and POV-pushing are looked down upon here just as much as there.

On to your actual comment, I will point out that Wikinews is run by volunteers, is a smaller project that Wikipedia, and as such cannot cover everything. If you want an article written, you can write it yourself, or request it - leaving a note on a Comments: page is likely to be missed, especially an old one, unless someone's got it watchlisted. However, I will point out that the article you are requesting is unlikely to be written - while on Wikipedia Recentism is something to be avoided and downplayed, on Wikinews it is part of our mission, and something that happened a month ago, even if it would have made for a good story then, will typically be rejected (take a look at the talk page of an article I wrote recently - Talk:Ovarian baby "miracle" birth - I was less than a week behind the 8-ball and still there's a complaint of lacking timeliness). You may consider putting an {{editprotected}} request on the talk page of the article, and an admin might add a little "update" box, but past that I don't think there's much that can be done in the scope of current Wikinews policy. Of course, you're welcome to go to the Water cooler and make a suggestion to change the policy, and hope to gain consensus.

On a final note, I took a look at your link to the SPJ's Ethics Code. I think it's worth saying again that we Wikinewsies are volunteers, not professional journalists. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't subscribe to such a code, but that at the moment our resources are minimal, so I see it more as an ideal to aspire to than a standard to abide by. That said, most of the code is in line with Wikimedia Foundation and Wikinews policy and guidelines anyway (such as WN:NPOV, WN:COI and so forth), and where the two intersect is obviously where the ethics of our practices is non-negotiable. We do have a draft Code of Ethics, and it would be worth revitalising the discussion on it, something you may be the ideal person to help with. Chris Mann (Say hi!|Stalk me!) 01:22, 6 June 2008 (UTC)

Thanks for leaving a note for me over on my WikiPedia talk page. Chris.
As I wrote there, just a few minutes ago, I would almost surely be disqualified from writing an objective news update on this story since I was deeply involved in the case. I don't know if WikiNews invites Op-Ed pieces, but that would be the only thing I could plausibly write on the case. While I could conceivably draft a nominally objective story, it would have to be vetted by an impartial editor, who might also feel obliged to obtain quotes from the public officials whom I have roundly criticized in my various blog posts on this story during the course of the many annoying continuances, while the District Attorney dicked around for nine months with a patently absurd and unprovable felony charge.
Regarding any conversations on the subject of ethics in media, I believe I would be in a good position to contribute to any such dialogues, based on my long-standing relationship with the Utah State University School of Journalism and Communication, where I have long collaborated with the distinguished professor there who teaches Online Journalism and Ethics in Journalism.
Moulton (talk) 02:00, 6 June 2008 (UTC)
Our conflict of interest guideline is similar to Wikipedia's - think before you write, let others oversee it, try not to get emotionally involved (as difficult as that may be). Again, I turn to my own contributions - Wikinews interviews Australian Statistician Brian Pink, aka "my boss". We certainly don't allow OpEd pieces (there's been discussion on whether we could get a working OpEd or Critical Review section that stayed within WN:NPOV, but the general consensus - such as it is - is that it would be very tricky to do, and probably not worth it just yet), but you are certainly welcome to draft an article, and just give a heads-up somewhere for someone to make sure it's neutral before publishing. Like I said, though, the problem is just as much the fact that it is no longer timely to comment on. I may raise this on the Water cooler, to see if there's a solution. Chris Mann (Say hi!|Stalk me!) 04:37, 6 June 2008 (UTC)
Modulo some minor editing, the update I posted on my English Wikipedia talk page would be the objective article I have in mind. The Op-Ed I had in mind was the one I also posted on my English Wikipedia talk page. Moulton (talk) 22:37, 6 June 2008 (UTC)
I've read the two links you provided. One just comes back here. This is beyond yesterday's news, and if you don't know that the very name "op-ed" violates NPOV, then you don't really get Wikinews yet.
We do not have a chief editor who takes decisions on what is covered, and what aspects of stories are highlighted. Thus, there is no "Editorial" to take opposition to. --Brian McNeil / talk 22:58, 6 June 2008 (UTC)
I'll be the first to confess that I don't understand WikiNews, its policies and practices, or its sense of obligation to readers, sources, and subjects.
But I have a direct question for Brian McNeil (or any other WikiNews editor, reporter, or staffer who cares to chime in). Do you believe that WikiNews has lived up to its own Code of Journalistic Ethics with respect to Star Simpson? Moulton (talk) 09:57, 7 June 2008 (UTC)


Sorry to butt in here, but yes. I looked over the article in question several times and found it to be more neutral than most of the articles here, mine included. It does a good job explaining the whole situation about the career fair and the nature of the shirt considering what was known to us at the time, instead of getting worked up about the whole "zomg fake bomb lol" like FOX News did. And unlike most of the other news outlets that reported this, the word "bomb" isn't even mentioned in the title (result of a mini-edit war, see talk page). Most of the quotes are from that idiot police chief, but that's to be expected for a breaking news story about a "bomb scare". The last sentence about her being impulsive and creative seems rather unnecessary to me, but it helps to add some balance by including quotes from people other than the idiot police chief. And to answer your concern about the police chief pointing to the device with his finger: he knew it wasn't going to blow up in his face because it was "fake" (his words, not mine). That had already been established in the article. The only question is whether she intended it to look like a bomb or not, which our article does not appear to take sides on. After reading the article, I was left with no unfavorable impression of Star Simpson, though I did take a mental note reminding me never to fly to Boston.

If I had a flux capacitor, I would love to go back in time to around May 2, 2008, so I could write a story on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts deciding to drop the charges. But alas, the intricacies of time travel remain unknown to us at this time, and since the charges were dropped over a month ago, it would be way too old to be considered "news" of any sort. Too bad. ~Planoneck~ 21:47, 16 June 2008 (UTC)

The world-wide readers of Wikinews are left with a dangling story, never learning how it ended. Don't they deserve to learn how it ended? Moulton (talk) 22:06, 17 June 2008 (UTC)
The readers of news are left with dangling stories all over the world by all kinds media including Wikinews. Do you think that The Boston Herald will have a follow-up to this? You seem to want a duty to follow up written into a code of ethics. I say, it is an undue burden that Wikinews does not have the manpower to handle, further there seems be no precedent for such a duty. As far as your Star Simpson concern, I read the article and was left with the impression of someone who did something that may or may not have been legal, but most people would have known better than to try to go through airport security (as it is now) with it, and got arrested for it. If some reader should later encounter Star Simpson, they are not going to think "OMG this is a terrorist" unless they have a mental defect. --SVTCobra 22:38, 17 June 2008 (UTC)
The reputation of The Boston Herald leaves something to be desired. Does Wikinews strive to live up to the highest standards of ethics in journalism, or sink to the lowest levels of tabloid journalism? Moulton (talk) 17:38, 18 June 2008 (UTC)
LOL, I guess I should have picked a newspaper that was further away geographically. Too funny that you have a Star Simpson related story about the Herald. However, that does not amount to a valid arguement and I think (hope) that you get my point. Arrests are reported, the resulting court cases ... not so much. And this is not just a symptom of "lowest levels of tabloid journalism" and I think you know that. --SVTCobra 01:13, 20 June 2008 (UTC)
According to Google News, 173 news outlets carried the story that the Commonwealth dropped the felony charges. Wikinews was notably not among them. Moulton (talk) 22:09, 20 June 2008 (UTC)
Moulton, it isn't feasible for us to mandate any form of follow-up reporting since we are dealing with volunteers. In general, there's no such notion in journalistic ethics as normally practiced to mandate followup stories. Moreover, people know that and know that if they want to find information about a topic they will need to look at multiple news sources. Now a bit of avdice:, coming here and immediately starting to make all sorts of issues about ethical concerns isn't likely to get people to pay attention to you. If you want people to pay attention I suggest you write a few articles, become a member of the community and then see if people will listen to your ideas. JoshuaZ (talk) 19:40, 21 June 2008 (UTC)


"In general, there's no such notion in journalistic ethics as normally practiced to mandate followup stories." --JoshuaZ

I beg to differ, Joshua. Consider, for example, this review of the journalistic codes of ethics submitted to the Poynter Institute for review from 33 member newspapers of the ASNE (American Society of Newspaper Editors). Among them, we find this exemplary highlight of a timeless value from the Raleigh NC News & Observer:

Cquote1.svg In the interest of fairness, we shall seek to report the eventual outcome of any criminal charges that we report. This is particularly important in cases in which an individual is exonerated. Cquote2.svg

Note that these are not my ideas, Joshua. These are ideas set forth by principled professionals in news gathering and reporting.

Moulton (talk) 03:32, 22 June 2008 (UTC)

Okay, seriously, you're right. We should have had another article on Star Simpson. We also should have had an article on Tiger Woods winning the U.S. Open almost a week ago, or on Norway's legalization of gay marriage on June 11. As you've probably noticed, Wikinews has very patchy coverage, due to the fact that we are volunteers working on our own time and there are not many of us. We cannot write a story on everything that happens in the world, and so many potential stories go unwritten. Unlike Wikipedia, where you can write an article about someone who's been dead for 500 years, Wikinews has deadlines. If something happened over a few days ago, it would be foolish to write an article about it, post it on the front page, stick a feather in its hat and call it news. There are exceptions in things such as scientific or medical discoveries, which often take a while to get around. But for a court case, it's simply too late.
The only way I can see your concerns possibly being addressed is if we place some sort of box on the original article informing the reader of the developments in the case. Kind of like the correction template, except less "we were wrong" and more for the reader's convenience. I don't know if others would want to go with it, since it hasn't been done before and it's rather unorthodox. But then again, rules were made to be broken. ~Planoneck~ 06:24, 22 June 2008 (UTC)
It shouldn't be that hard to craft an update box stating the basic facts of the outcome — that after 9 months of dicking around continuances, the Commonwealth admitted it didn't have any grounds for the felony charge (which had initially been ballyhooed far and wide). The behavior of the authorities was frankly shameful. But you don't have to write a story about that. Just put in a two-sentence update box saying the state dropped the felony charges after determining "they could not go forward" with the case. Moulton (talk) 06:39, 22 June 2008 (UTC)

Disputes on Wikipedia[edit]

Please don't bring disputes on Wikipedia over to Wikinews. --PatrickFlaherty (talk) 19:06, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

Sometimes, disputes on Wikipedia are news. This one appears to have made the news already. Moulton (talk) 04:28, 4 December 2008 (UTC)
You have made zero useful contributions here. Persist in harassing people involved in the decision to permanently block you on en.WP and I will permanently block you here. Take Patrick's warning to heart, do not try to import your Wikipedia feud to Wikinews. --Brian McNeil / talk 10:53, 4 December 2008 (UTC)
I take vigorous exception to your calumnious characterization of my contributions here. I made important contributions to correcting egregious errors and ethical lapses in reporting a story and I made substantial contributions toward introducing a functional code of ethics here. That you petulantly elected not to make use of those contributions is a disgrace to yourself and to the project. Moulton (talk) 16:54, 4 December 2008 (UTC)
Contribution from IP --Brian McNeil / talk 17:11, 4 December 2008 (UTC)
Completely unrelated to the issue of disruption, but I think it's worth pointing out that people might take you more seriously if you didn't write like a 19th century lawyer with pretensions of literature. I'd be the first to point out that I can be quite sesquipedalian at times (mainly because most people don't know what that means), but even I have trouble taking your last paragraph seriously - in simple terms, it sounds stuck-up and holier-than-thou. With not much effort, I managed to bring it down to "I don't like the way you characterise my contributions. I tried to fix serious errors and ethical lapses in a story and pushed for a functional code of ethics, and you chose to ignore my efforts." which, admittedly, wouldn't make me any more likely to say "Them's the breaks", but might, just might, make me marginally more willing to listen to your complaint.
And, along with Patrick and Brian, I will say this: Bring your disputes from elsewhere to Wikinews, and you will be blocked. Behave disruptively as you have here and elsewhere, and you will be blocked. Write a decent, sourced, current news article without attempting to cause any drama, and you might actually get to stick around. Chris Mann (Say hi!|Stalk me!) 00:12, 5 December 2008 (UTC)