Wikipedia:Reliable sources may be non-neutral

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

One of the perennial issues that arises during editor disputes is how the neutral point of view policy interacts with the reliable sources guideline. Arguments often arise which contend that a given source ought to be excluded as unreliable because the source has an identifiable point of view. These arguments cross a wide variety of topics and stem from a common misunderstanding about how NPOV interacts with RS. The neutral point of view policy applies to Wikipedia articles as a whole: articles should reflect an appropriate balance of differing points of view. The reliable sources guideline refers to a source's overall reputation for fact-checking and reliability--not the source's neutrality. Reliable sources may be non-neutral: a source's reputation for fact-checking is not inherently dependent upon its point of view.

On controversial topics, Wikipedians often need to deal with sources that are reliable but non-neutral. The best solution to this is to acknowledge that a controversy exists and to represent different reliable points of view according to the weight that reliable sources provide. Intelligent readers will weigh the opposing sides and reach their own conclusions.

A frequent example that arises in this type of discussion is The New York Times, which is the leading newspaper of record in the United States yet which also tends to reflect a left of center point of view. If that presents a problem within article space, the problem is not reliability. The appropriate Wikipedian solution is to include The New York Times and also to add other reliable sources that represent a different point of view. The Wall Street Journal and National Review are reliable sources that present right wing points of view. Left-leaning The Village Voice might also be cited. The appropriate balance can be determined from the undue weight clause of the neutrality policy. Overall, good Wikipedian contribution renders articles objective and neutral by presenting an appropriate balance of reliable opinions.

It requires less research to argue against one reliable source than to locate alternate reliable sources, which may be why neutrality/reliability conflation is a perennial problem.

This phenomenon is global rather than national. For instance, with regard to Middle East politics the Jerusalem Post presents a view of events that is distinct from Al Jazeera. Generally speaking, both sources are reliable. When these two sources differ, Wikipedian purposes are best served by clearly stating what each source reported without attempting to editorialize which of the conflicting presentations is intrinsically right.


See also[edit]