“Wikipedia is not a source. NEVER.” – A short guide to responsible civic journalism


Photo credit: WIRED


By Femke van Zeijl

I had felt the lecture coming on for a couple of weeks now, after following with growing amazement the misinformation online on current affairs in Nigeria. In times like these (talking about Naija in particular) responsible (civic) journalism is a must. Pouring oil into the fire is too easy. That is why I put on my academic hat – coming from a family of teachers, I couldn’t help it – for a class of civic journalism on my Twitter account @femkevanzeijl. It can still be found under #civicjournalism, but as tweets expire quicker than an opened carton of milk, I put it on this blog too. Called the impromptu lecture ‘How to Recognize a Trustworthy Source’ – or rather: ‘How to Recognize the Ones That Are Not’. It is simple, really.

 Just follow these 10 rules:


1: An unauthorized tweet handle of a famous individual or well known organisation is NOT a source.

 2: (Foreign) journalists (including myself) are not automatically trustworthy sources.

 3: Neither are (foreign) media organizations. Stating ‘Reuters said so and so’ does not make something true.

 4: Distrust media quoting media quoting media quoting media. It is a scam they are not aware of.

 5: When reading something you think ‘this cannot be right’, assume it is not until proven otherwise.

 6: If tempted to believe a source, find out its background before quoting it all over the virtual world.

 7: If source checks out, find out what REALLY was said, and not how it was abbreviated to fit into 140 characters.

8: Find the primary source!! Don’t be satisfied with second hand news. If the BBC said something: ask THEM.

 9: Wikipedia is NOT a source. Never.

 10: Distrust. Ask questions. Ask more. Than decide and maybe RT.

 Basically it is logical AND independent thinking what makes a good (civic) journalist. So go ahead and report, but be sensible. Think twice. Don’t be a parrot. Think for yourself.

 One final point: always mention your sources. Preferably in a way that is verifiable. So other people can think for themselves as well.

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cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail