Wikinews:Water cooler/policy

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Policies and guidelines and the Style guide contain or link to most of the current en.Wikinews policies and guidelines, however policy is based on the accepted practices of the day on Wikinews, often these might not be written down. This section of the Water cooler focuses on discussions regarding policy issues.

You may wish to check the archives to see if a subject has been raised previously.


Photo credit centralization[edit]

I'm working on another photostory, and since the slideshow option is giving me heck, I'm using the gallery option. But for "Image: Nicholas Moreau" to show up under every image, it looks like I'm completely self-centred. Can we just have a single notice in the intro, saying "Wikinews reporter Nicholas Moreau was accredited for the event, taking photos of the displays and cosplayers in attendance."

Would anyone object to this? -- Zanimum (talk) 00:10, 20 March 2017 (UTC)

What's wrong with the NPOV policy and a proposal for improvement[edit]

As a very experienced writer (worked for Gambit newspaper in New Orleans) and as a WikiNews newbie, one can't help but wonder at the many years of history of this site and yet the yawning lack of content produced. So, I've done a lot of reading into the site's policies and history to try and discern why. It's my opinion, only partially informed, that a key reason would-be authors may either not begin or not continue with contributing has to do with the NPOV policy.

It's apparent that Jimbo Wales, Wikimedia Founder, did, and likely still does believe in the NPOV viewpoint, as is thoroughly articulated here.

However, a key reason the policy is troublesome in my view is that it ignores the reality that it's completely impossible to not have a point of view on anything worth writing a news article about, and therefore the policy is asking WAY too much. (I would hope Jimbo Wales can be persuaded to my way of thinking.)

If you're thinking I'm off my rocker and don't understand what the NPOV policy is about and therefore I'm just flat out wrong, I urge you to consider these sources:

There's no such thing as unbiased journalism so lets stop pretending, by David Harsanyi

There's no such thing as objective journalism, get over it, by Andrew Kirell

The Illusion of Unbiased Journalism by Erik Flemming

Great quotes from Hunter S. Thompson musing on the question of objectivity in journalism

...I could cite many more sources of great thinking on this. In short, anyone who thinks there can ever be no-point-of-view is, in my view and that of many great thinkers, delusional. But whatever you think of my point of view, there ARE ways forward to achieve the goals of the well-meaning but misguided NPOV policy.

The important points for WikiNews have nothing to do with point-of-view; rather than arguing over the relative merits of NPOV, policy should be about a mandate to put emphasis on FACTS and, when they seem appropriate, clearly distinguish OPINION because these can more or less be objectively determined, though one can go overboard here and discourage contributions. For example, in my own first article, I originally wrote "... in preparations for the most loved event for ..." and altered it to "...in preparations for what many attendees say is the most loved event for ..." because the former use of the adjective love is subjective opinion, the latter is observed objective fact. The questions are; would anyone think the first use of "love" would be mistaken as not opinion? Would anyone be harmed by, or indeed object to, that usage? Probably not, but I thought I'd "get it right" on my first at-bat.

With an emphasis on facts and clearly distinguished opinion, writers can feel they can write what they want to write. When you tell me I must have No Point Of View, my response is; it's not even possible so why bother? It's offensive from an intellectual point of view AND doesn't serve the purposes it intends. If you think I'm mistaken about discouragement, listen to the crickets... With this many years of exposure, WikiNews should be a great many times bigger than it is today - it's clearly failing to either attract or retain sufficient contributors.

(I noted with some alarm how many stories are held up RIGHT NOW because they're disputed. Let's consider them in this discussion, too. My approach would eliminate that problem forever.)

Another question related to this is whether people should - if they can - state their biases as it pertains to the subject. For example, someone could write a potentially disputed and contentious article on the subject "Some think 'R' for 'Ridicule' Should Be Added To The 'BDS' Campaign On Israel's Apartheid System" and state their bias as, "The author believes Israel's policies against Palestinians are roughly equal to those of the anti-Black policies of the former Apartheid system in South Africa". Such an article, were the policies of this site altered to permit it, would be useful to readers by explicitly stating the author's point of view on a potentially contentious but vital topic on the Middle East and provide interesting, useful food for thought among those intellectually capable of having a rational discussion about it. What's not serving readers is preventing such articles from being published - which, by the way, is what American corporate media would do with such a story and why some Newbies to this site might ascribe Orwellian characteristics to this site when they find their article "disappeared without a trace."

If all that can get through the sieve of policy here are bland nothing articles that "no one can dispute", it's a pretty useless site since everything of any real value to have discussion about in our world will have parties on multiple sides with opinions and biases and the most informed about these - and the voices most worthy of being heard - are very often on polar opposite sides of issues. And if you think you're going to get those views presented from No Point Of View authors, you're kidding yourself because if you have no point of view, you aren't going to care very much about those discussions. Hence, crickets...

Finally, I hope it's clear that I strongly agree with the intended results of a NPOV policy, and wish to point out that a major problem with the policy is its very name and the point of view it evokes. A better name for a workable policy would be something one might call the Joe Friday policy: NBTF / LAO - Nothing But The Facts & Label All Opinion. ... Perhaps with a SYB - State Your Bias policy, to boot. I hope you will seriously consider this policy proposal - what the site's doing now doesn't appear to be working and that's a pity.—The preceding unsigned comment was added by Rtroy (talkcontribs)

@Rtroy:
would anyone think the first use of "love" would be mistaken as not opinion?
I think when we say "in preparations for the most loved event for", we are endorsing that it is the most loved event. But the truth is, people consider it to be the most loved. It is not our job to assume it. Like for example, if someone says, (If I recall correctly, for an article) "Beloved prime minister Shri Narendra Modi", how are you going to prove that he is indeed beloved? How do you know that? If the whole nation, each and every individual agree, then you can say so, else, it is what some, majority, most, few people think.
Would anyone be harmed by, or indeed object to, that usage?
Yes of course. What if there is someone who does not like that event? He or she might be interested in something else. So instead of wildly assuming that it "is the most loved", and saying, "what many attendees say is the most loved event for", we are not factually wrong, and in the safe zone of not misreporting anything.
I do not understand why you don't think it is not possible. When it comes to writing for a news company that pays you, other factors like crowd pulling comes in the picture. A biased headlines, a misleading or provoking comment which is not cent percent correct gains more readers for that article, you have to agree. Instead of such misleading words, why not use facts? A fact used at a correct place at the correct time for a correct article eliminates the need of biased point of view.
You can keep on citing why NPOV id not good for news and I can keep on denying because that is what we are doing here. I am not calling any politician a monster. What a politician does, report that. Why he/she does, report that. The readers can think for themselves is that politician doing correct or not. We don't need to say "people feel XYZ" if ABC were the consequences of the act.
When anyone cites Wikinews, they are not citing any author. There can be more than one editors who contributed to the story. The reviewer of the story can have other point of view, IP editors can submit the articles for review... Considering these things, adding what the author thinks is not okay. The author is free to add their opinions and POVs to the comments page, but those things are not welcomed on the article. Adding it would involve controversy as some editors would not like this point of view.
If I say "Referring decisions helped Real Madrid", it is not neutral. A user who is Real Madrid supporter would find this offensive. But on the other hand, saying, "there were at least twelve occasions where referee's decisions were incorrect and were in favour of Real Madrid", we are not endorsing anything, and we are not saying that Real Madrid was indeed helped by the referee.
English Wikinews is a small community. With a limited number of users, I really can't expect Wikinews publishing 50 articles of medium length each day. I can expect two or three, but again, with a limited number of editors, this is not possible since real life commitments are also important. I have my internal exam this Monday, but still I am replying to this thread. I have not started reading for it. I want to help the project and that is what every editor wants to do. But just because we are unable to publish many articles, we are not abandoning neutrality. Can you just imagine Wikipedia adding biased point of view to each articles? Can you just imagine what would happen to the traditional Chinese Medicines related articles? Can you imagine the degree of vandalism we can observe for controversial topics? Just try to imagine all the editors allowed to add their own point of views? Articles like FC Barcelona and Real Madrid would be ruined. This will result severe reputation damage, and same is true on Wikinews. POV would lead to misleading reports since Wikinews can be edited by anyone. And it would lead to "fake news", I feel.
Someone from paid journalism would never understand this, but a place where anyone can write anything, things wil go out of order, and that would lead to the collapse of the project. If every story has a point of view, let the readers discover them with the facts. Facts can be really effective, but if you want to attract audience by the means of point of views, this is really not the place, in my opinion.
NPOV is one of those things which makes Wikinews different from other news sources. But, if you are really confident your approach would work, let's try it. Write an article in your userspace, and we will see how, why and what is wrong with it considering Wikinews is both a wiki and a news source — where "Wiki" and "news", both have equal weight.
acagastya 20:10, 22 April 2017 (UTC)

@acagastya I have no idea what "Real Madrid" is but it appears you've completely missed my points on several different occasions, including missing what I was actually saying about "love" (I don't agree with your interpretation about "our endorsement" but I don't care to dissect it at the moment). Here are some comments in reply:

  • What I promote is the idea that authors keep to facts while you promote the idea that a writer can have no point of view. I posit that the former is possible and the latter is impossible, and that's really the foundation of my having written anything at all. (There's a second key point below.) A point of view is held by everyone with anything to say and it's impossible not to have one, and it doesn't only belie itself with explicit statements, but also with the framing of a situation, what is discussed, what is left out, even when there's 100% "facts" stated. It should also be remembered that one person's freedom fighter is another person's terrorist, so word choices in statements made can be perfectly factual based on definitions of words but still be found offensive and "conveying a point of view" and "disputed."
  • I promote the idea that if opinion is stated it must be clearly denoted. You say opinion is never OK, fine, if that's a rule. And if so, strip out all the facade of "no point of view" and just state exactly what you mean and be done with ALL the confusion. I'm hearing two policy rules from you, "Nothing But The Facts" and "No Opinions". Gee whiz, that's simple and clear AND POSSIBLE.
  • When you comment, "I do not understand why you don't think it is not possible", it leads me to strongly suspect you didn't read a single reference I pointed to. -face-palm- In short, humans come to everything they do with some kind of frame of reference we call a point of view, even if they are unaware of it. The more intelligent you are, the more experienced, the more widely read, the more likely you are to have a viewpoint that's informed by many years of data-collection and thinking.
  • You talk about the relatively few contributors to do editing and so forth and that's the whole point I was making: for an 8+ year old project with this kind of visibility, it sure hasn't caught on, now has it? If the site could attract and retain people to write, review, etc, it would grow.
  • The NPOV policy would be very neatly replaced by a completely clear an unequivocal pair of policies: Nothing But The Facts, and No Opinion. There's no not understanding it. There's no people saying to themselves, "that's impossible, so I'm not even going to bother trying.) (I myself started out by laughing at the complete lack of reality behind it.) But there ARE people who will say, "I like an all-facts news source, with no opinion." He's a heck of a lot more clear than "a no-point-of-view news source.—The preceding unsigned comment was added by Rtroy (talkcontribs)
A few general thoughts.
  • Neutrality works differently on Wikinews than on Wikipedia. I wouldn't care to bet on whether Jimmy Wales understands the difference. It is entirely possible for a featured article on either of the two projects to fail the neutrality standards of the other project; the criteria are that different.
  • To be blunt, I think our NPOV policy page on Wikinews does a really poor job of explaining. The information is there, I guess, but I think I've really gotten my deep sense of how it works from dwelling on thousands of actual articles. I've had in mind to write an essay on Wikinews neutrality, explaining it in a much more forthright and practical way, with an eye to possibly using the essay to draft an overhaul of the policy page; but it's a big and difficult task and we've other infrastructure concerns to absorb what time I don't pour into actual news production, so of course I haven't gotten far on it yet.
  • A great deal of harm is done in the world, I think, by people claiming neutrality is impossible. Of course perfection of all kinds is impossible, and that's a deplorable excuse for not trying. The Wikinews strategy toward neutrality uses techniques that are not, apparently, available to Wikipedia because of the different nature of what an encyclopedia is (traditionally) trying to do.
  • The Wikipedian approach to neutrality is a matter of "balance", which in a news context has been, imho, demonstrated pretty spectacularly not to work, at least as a centerpiece for neutrality strategy; obviously in the case of "fair and balanced" FOX News, but also in the case of the efforts of BBC, whose failure of neutrality in their coverage of the Scottish independence referendum was... noticed north of the border.
  • Wikinews neutrality is a key feature of the project, one of the great values we give to the world. We're an antidote for the defeatist denial that individual people can aspire to report news neutrally and so empower informed readers to make up their own minds.
--Pi zero (talk) 20:41, 22 April 2017 (UTC)

@Pi zero, I really appreciate your comment number two above. Your comments on "neutrality" I find interesting, but do notice that there's exactly zero connection between "neutrality" and "no point of view." A point of view is held by all of us, whether we're neutral on a subject or for or against any part involved in that subject. I think that this point is what's, for me, really at odds here. I embrace the concept of "neutrality" in terms of reporting but that doesn't mean I don't see the framework that's behind a reporter's thinking, and that's what a point of view is actually about. A reporter can be sure to only report facts. It's harder to ask them to present all facts "fairly" because they have to make choices about what to include and what to leave out and some side or other can usually find facts they want included that are left out. Both the inclusion and exclusion of facts is primarily caused by an author's point of view - sometimes called framing. And this is why my proposal has merit; simple, vastly more clear, and achievable.

In my not always humble opinion, the NPOV policy, even if it's just the policy's name, has not been successful. The fact that 8 years on the contributions are so modest is very telling. Change the name, simplify. What I'm hearing is "NBTF, NO" - Nothing But The Facts, No Opinion."

Rtroy (talk) 23:26, 22 April 2017 (UTC)

Tbh, it seems clear to me you don't understand Wikinews's neutrality policy. You can't make a coherent argument for or against if you don't have a clear notion of what you're trying to be for or against.

The level of activity on the project is only related to our neutrality policy in one way: we're still here, and with everything being thrown at us that requires really powerful ideals for us to rally to — and an important part of the journalistic ideals that have enabled Wikinews to survive is our neutrality. (We had a "fork" a few years ago, you know; at least, it was called a fork, although they didn't copy our article archives; they did copy a lot of our support infrastructure, though. It failed while Wikinews has continued because, in attempting to streamline their process to boost output, they compromised on principles like neutrality and thus had a project that lacked a reason for people to want to contribute to it.) --Pi zero (talk) 00:16, 23 April 2017 (UTC)

@Pi zero "You can't make a coherent argument for or against if you don't have a clear notion of what you're trying to be for or against" - way to go! Straight to insults, clear sign of not even trying to put up a coherent argument, and this against someone who's not even trying to argue.

OK, I get it, you feel offended someone has pointed out the project's failure. Fine, the project still exists, but at a current rate of 0.5 articles per day for the English speaking world after 8+ years of effort, sorry that you're in denial that things are working great just because you still have the teat of Wikileaks to hang off of. I'm trying to help you understand the project's failure to attract / retain a sufficient talent pool to be a truly going concern. A key part of that is the word choice. And it's certainly a coherent argument that your policy is so challenging ... in fact, I'm adopting YOUR first two bullet points as having made my case for me! Don't go edit them now to retract your words, that would be disingenuous.

As for your third point: I never made a case - would not, could not make a case - against neutrality. But you don't have a policy called "Neutrality", you have one prominently called NPOV - No Point Of View - and that is the ONLY policy I have been critical of. I even went so far as to praise the goals! Truly laudable, just HOPELESSLY UNCLEAR and that is a part of the failure. You yourself acknowledge this yet... OK, you think I insulted you. -shrug- You also COMPLETELY mischaracterize my comments when you claim I said neutrality was impossible. Horsefeathers. I said having No Point Of View is impossible! PLEASE keep to facts in evidence.

I'm offering two key ideas:

1) rename the damned policy, the current name is a loser. "Neutrality" would be a vastly better alternative. And;

2) simplify the policy. As already stated, Nothing But The Facts, No Opinion, would be about as clear and concise as could ever be needed. Yet you find you need to insult me over the contribution. Way to make friends and influence people.

I hope you'll rethink it, take less offense and realize I'm actually trying to help, and I hope that others in the community will have a less reactionary, more thoughtful view.

Rtroy (talk) 02:31, 23 April 2017 (UTC)

My remark was not an insult nor an attack, but a diagnosis. If you want to self-improve, and be useful to the project, take the criticism to heart. Your remarks aren't fact-based; your latest above makes this especially clear. Journalism is all about being fact-based. --Pi zero (talk) 11:33, 23 April 2017 (UTC)
Couple of things. We all might have point of view. But while writing here, you are not supposed to reflect your point of view on the article.
I don't think Rtroy is an experienced writer (at least not a journalist), not sure if a blogger. The quality of the article written by the user is not what I will expect from an experienced journalist. Besides, the files used for the article, which Rtroy said is "own work" is copyvio. This is not a trait of an experienced writer. Many bloggers are unaware in the beginning, but with time, they learn about the copyright violation. When the user says, I have no idea what 'Real Madrid' is but it appears you've completely missed my points on several different occasions, including missing what I was actually saying about 'love', what should I say. It takes a couple of seconds to search what is Real Madrid on the internet. If the user had done that, it would be clear what I was trying to say. Policies? I really don't think that is true, at least in this case. Newbies generally do not read the policies and the guidelines. Else, they would do a lot of things better (like the date format, or the lede section, or the way to cite the sources, or focus) Okay. The last point is not a strong one, but you can't ignore that.
acagastya 17:41, 23 April 2017 (UTC)
@Acagastya: Actually, they claim to have considerable experience in professional journalism. --Pi zero (talk) 00:29, 24 April 2017 (UTC)

One could perhaps always write a neutral article, and an opinion in comments? If comments namespace ignites an increase in audience, I would personally not horribly mind (so long as the said audience has an active interest in formulating a comprehensive view on the subject). --Gryllida (talk) 02:12, 24 April 2017 (UTC)

Indeed, when BRS was here a few months ago xe used that technique several times, adding a comment on the opinions page once xyr article was published. --Pi zero (talk) 02:40, 24 April 2017 (UTC)