Wikiality and the media

by Ted Frank on February 11, 2007

Glenn Reynolds posts on problems with Wikipedia. The problem is worse than he imagines, because lazy mainstream media are now relying on the site. I won’t embarrass the reporter by name, but he did a story on the ATLA name change; in the course of the story, he quoted fictional statistics invented by the Center for Justice & Democracy as “evidence” of the failure of medical malpractice reform. I dropped him an email pointing out the error, and the response included the following:

“I have found that non-obscure entries in Wikipedia are usually policed carefully to prevent unfounded, unanswered spin.”

At which point, he quoted back to me a Wikipedia entry on the subject that consisted entirely of ATLA talking points and spin that had been refuted numerous times on this site and Point of Law. That Wikipedia is inaccurate on this topic is no surprise: as I’ve noted earlier, a handful of trial lawyer advocates have systematically made thousands of edits to sanitize Wikipedia of just about anything that opposes the official ATLA line or criticizes trial lawyers, even on such minor entries as Jim Shapiro (see OL June 2002) and contingent fee (not to mention more major ones like asbestos, asbestos and the law, and medical malpractice). (And welcome Instapundit readers.)

{ 2 comments }

1 Walter Olson 02.11.07 at 1:42 pm

It’s also worth noting that on a certain website launched last year which labors mightily to defend the American plaintiff’s bar in all its works and ways, and which Ted sometimes rebuts in this space, the list of 30-odd official guest contributors includes “Jean and Greg Winters“, whose biographical description currently reads, in its entirety, “Civil Justice Wikipedia Editors”.

No doubt there are equally committed advocates posting edits from a contrasting perspective. That it all adds up to a “neutral point of view” on litigation controversies is something I much doubt, based on the contents of the pages I occasionally visit.

2 Bonnie 02.11.07 at 5:05 pm

So why not embarass the reporter? on the Wikipedia site?

Laziness should not be protected.

Sheesh!

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