Talk:Al-Masdar News

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Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Neutrality[edit]

One BBC article described Al-Masdar News as "pro-government", but I think more opinions should be found to avoid WP:UNDUE before discussing in the article. Batternut (talk) 12:09, 1 December 2016 (UTC)

Looks like a few more sources have been found since this message. But just as somewhere to record them (other than those quoted in the article already): News Deeply [1], Syria Direct [2], Business Insider [3]. Stickee (talk) 12:40, 9 April 2017 (UTC)

Independent Yemeni claim?[edit]

@RekishiEJ: Which source says they are independent and Yemeni? Batternut (talk) 11:29, 2 January 2017 (UTC)

[4]--RekishiEJ (talk) 12:33, 2 January 2017 (UTC)
@RekishiEJ: I don't think alas that that off-guardian report can be accepted as reliable - its author, Eric Zuesse, is a Regular Contributor to Al-Masdar News. Batternut (talk) 16:39, 2 January 2017 (UTC)

Relationship to Yemeni weekly newspaper[edit]

Article Death of Jamal al-Sharaabi has good sources mentioning Al-Masdar News as the Yemeni newspaper that employed al-Sharaabi when he was killed in March 2011. Al-Masdar News itself says it was launched in August 2014 about. So apparently not the same organisation... Batternut (talk) 16:53, 2 January 2017 (UTC)

Relation to the Yemeni newspaper is in name only so a note at the top of the article similar to The_New_York_Times "Not to be confused with The Times." could be useful "Not to be confused with al-Masdar News - Newspaper, Yemen", what do you think? Dfroberg (talk) 14:38, 3 May 2017 (UTC)

Other news sites have quoted Al-Masdar News thousands of times - is this OR using a primary source?[edit]

@Stickee: removed the claim "Other news sites have quoted Al-Masdar News thousands of times" on the grounds of "OR using a primary source."

Per policy given in WP:Primary, to me the claim counts as straightforward, descriptive statements of facts, which the policy allows. I'll restore the statement for now, pending further policy interpretation/discussion of course... Batternut (talk) 11:55, 9 April 2017 (UTC)

There was a similar discussion in the past at Wikipedia:No original research/Noticeboard/Archive 10#Counting Google hits and dictionary entries to support a claim regarding Google hit counts. While this example isn't quite as egregious, it's still within scope. Additionally, it's probably not even a reliable source, because GNews includes sites like "StepFeed" in the count which are just auto-posting sites. I've posted a generic example at the WP:NORN to get outside feedback (please no-one from here reply to the noticeboard post, as it'd ruin the point in trying to get outside feedback!) Stickee (talk) 12:23, 9 April 2017 (UTC)
I find hits from Bloomberg, from Newsweek, from the Guardian, from the Straits Times, Marketwatch, The Business Insider, Vatan (a newspaper from Turkey, legit), Radio Free Europe.... It took me a couple of minutes to find these. It seems clear to me that these outlets only use Al Masdar when there is no other source available. But because they have a reporter with direct links to the a Syrian special forces unit, the TIger Forces, they often carry stuff that no one else has. Thus the fancy cites. Jd2718 (talk) 01:28, 10 April 2017 (UTC)
As per WP:BURDEN and moreso WP:BRD (since your content was only first introduced on the 4 April [5]), the content stays out until there's consensus to include. Furthermore, it even appears there's consensus against inclusion, with all three editors that replied at WP:NORN gave a negative response towards inclusion. Stickee (talk) 11:28, 10 April 2017 (UTC)
If you know that the citations exist, but will block the claim unless someone takes hours cutting and pasting and formatting references, then you win. Jd2718 (talk) 13:08, 10 April 2017 (UTC)
I accept the WP:BURDEN and WP:BRD line, and am happy to leave the claim out of the article, pending the discussion outcome, which is on-going ;-) Batternut (talk) 00:51, 11 April 2017 (UTC)
Would a phrasing such as "AMN is regularily cited or attributed in large and small news publications across the world." be more appropriate? I've prepared a smal subset of references from WP:RS as well as a few local publications. I feel that writing a program to pull the +5600 references is a bit overkill to maintain the above statement :) Dfroberg (talk) 21:24, 3 May 2017 (UTC)

The OR noticeboard discussion (now archived) started by @Stickee: to justify his removal of the claim ended without consensus. There was "Far too little participation to assess consensus" according to an uninvolved editor. Of course some other forum may yet decide such a claim is OR. However I feel the statement "Other news sites have quoted Al-Masdar News thousands of times" improves the balance of the article, which otherwise seems to focus on the negative. Using a Google hit count may a weak justification for the claim, but it is better than none at all, and if the effect is not clearly OR then it seems more reasonable keep it in. Batternut (talk) 11:49, 18 September 2017 (UTC)

Oh wow, this is still a thing. Every response you got there was against your position - even when 17 out of 33 responses there were your own comments (yay WP:BLUDGEON). Stickee (talk) 01:57, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
... read as WP:DEADHORSE... All sorts of sources, bloggers, vloggers (and any convolution of 'one man and his dog' you'd care to throw into the mix) get their 'stuff' reiterated elsewhere and picked up on by google: it's known as cyberspace, and there's a lot of noise in it. Most of the noise isn't worth the space it takes up, and it's not up to Wikipedia editors to add unencyclopaedic and meaningless waffle content to articles. --Iryna Harpy (talk) 03:28, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
Iryna: "stuff reiterated" is the "info war" game they play. News vendors live by readership figures - Pravda's circulation is not waffle, nor HuffPost's Alexa rank. Stickee: half the uninvolved respondents misunderstood the query and Google's cut-off, which I explained. Sorry the ORN result disappointed... But anyway, you prefer "Al-Masdar News has been quoted by Newsweek, The Washington Post, RT..." etc (as here), rehashing @Jd2718:'s thoughts above? Or we keep quiet about the site having any reach? Batternut (talk) 01:24, 22 September 2017 (UTC)
Being correct (I think Batternut is) is different from complying with policy. Wait for the coverage of the coverage of the Syrian Civil War to occur as history, rather than as news (today all the coverage is as news). At that point there will be secondary sources describing the role of Al Masdar. But today there are not, or where they exist, they are negative about particular stories, rather than positive about speed of coverage, or range of coverage. Jd2718 (talk) 13:45, 22 September 2017 (UTC)

Can I just ask if any other WP articles for news sites have phrases of the same order as "Other news sites have quoted xyz thousands of times"? It seems very un-encyclopedic to me, whether it is true or not. BobFromBrockley (talk) 15:03, 22 September 2017 (UTC)

Aggregator?[edit]

Al Masdar publishes mostly unique content from reporters in the field. In no way is this a news aggregator. Jd2718 (talk) 13:17, 10 April 2017 (UTC)

Yeah I agree that it is actually a news site, but for some reason sources are describing it as an aggregator. Eg Bloomberg says "The somewhat pro-Assad news aggregator Al-Masdar is already reporting"[6]. Maybe it's citogenesis? Stickee (talk) 22:19, 10 April 2017 (UTC)

Lainformacia.com as a reliable source[edit]

I've just removed the (lengthy) 'tit-for-tat' evaluation of Leith Fadel as WP:FALSEBALANCE. lainformacion.com has no established track record, unlike Business Insider. If editors wish to evaluate it as a source, I suggest that the issue should be taken up at the WP:RSN. --Iryna Harpy (talk) 20:35, 24 April 2017 (UTC)

What do we actually know about Al-Masdar News?[edit]

Ok, so I navigated to Google News and typed in

"al-masdar news" -almasdarnews.com

In order to find all results about it not coming from the URL itself.

After reading a few pages, the only things I can glean is that

  • Nobody seems to know much at all about the news organization. Snopes.com calls it an "Arab news service", which is pretty typical. Some outlets, like the Russian Federal News Agency call it a "Lebanese information portal". However, I don't understand exactly what it means that an organization is "Lebanese" or "Arab" when their list of contributors at the official website lives all around the world. There doesn't seem to be a physical head office anywhere, only an internet-based organization. Sometimes the sources mention something like "Syrian army sources told Al-Masdar News", or something similar. Al-Masdar sometimes reports things while saying that their sources can't independently confirm it (example).
  • Despite a lack of information about the news agency itself, it has been and is still being widely quoted as a source about Syrian events, by all mainstream sources. Some of them (BBC, The Independent) described it as having a pro-Syrian government viewpoint.
  • After the Khan Sheikhun chemical attacks, mainstream pro-US news agencies simultaneously ran stories alleging ties to a "Russian propaganda network" because Al-Masdar published an editorial questioning the official US government narrative of the chemical attacks. As far as I can tell, all of the recent US MSM articles are sourced from this report by the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab. So it's not as if many MSM outlets suddenly decided that Al-Masdar was potentially tied to "Russian propaganda", but that a pre-eminent Atlanticist think tank published an editorial view which made its way down the food chain into the various MSM outlets.
  • We have no reliable information detailing how it's funded. It has ads on the main site, a so-far-unsuccessful Patreon, and a donations page with no information about how much has been raised or how much is needed. The home page itself claims they are funded primarily from ads (if one uses an ad-blocker while visiting the home page, the ads are replaced with messages saying "We know advertisements are annoying, but that is how we are paying the bills").

Did I miss anything? Esn (talk) 23:16, 27 April 2017 (UTC)

Could you qualify the "is still being widely quoted as a source about Syrian events" with some examples illustrating the usage by WP:RS (i.e., with attribution, within op-ed pieces, presented as fact, etc.)? --Iryna Harpy (talk) 23:23, 27 April 2017 (UTC)
For one thing, the respectable and mildly pro-rebel Syria:direct news organization has frequently quoted Al-Masdar while describing it as "pro-regime". Also, look here (sorted by date). Just on the first page, I found [7] [8] [9] [10] Esn (talk) 23:32, 27 April 2017 (UTC)
@Esn: Regarding the specific reports you've pointed out, #1 is a Reuters (WP:RS) breaking news report with the reporter listing several sources, but attributing each of the reports to the source (i.e., he, himself, is not going to commit to the veracity of the reports on behalf of himself or Reuters). #2 is from the Morning Star (a tabloid which should be treated with caution). #3 is a Daily Mail article which I'd discount as double-trouble in that it's A) a tabloid; B) an emotive shock piece which the author seems to specialise in. The general gist I've gleaned from your overall search, however, is that it is regarded as a pro-Assad/pro-regime by reliable sources. 'Widely quoted', as you've used the term, is not equivalent to 'reliable'. I'd also be reticent to define it as 'widely'. It is quoted within proscribed contexts, and is predominantly viewed as being pro regime. --Iryna Harpy (talk) 20:55, 28 April 2017 (UTC)

Based in...[edit]

Yusufalazma1925, you've now changed where Al Masdar is based from the UAE to Beirut, Lebanon twice (here and here). Per the reliable third party source actually being used as the reference for its location, this is incorrect. If you have reliable sources to back up your assertion, please bring it to the talk page. --Iryna Harpy (talk) 21:03, 28 April 2017 (UTC)

Iryna Harpy, "Al Masdar" means "the source" - thus it is unsurprising that there is more than one publication with that name. Your secondary source confused this Al Masdar with one put out appropriately enough by the Dubai Electric and Water Authority (see, the name makes sense). Here you can read a little about them: https://www.facebook.com/dewaofficial/posts/466869930031247 In the meantime, I'll correct the article. Jd2718 (talk) 21:40, 28 April 2017 (UTC)
@Jd2718: I'll take it on good faith that you and Yusufalazma1925 are correct. For the edification of other editors, the source reference in question is "the UAE-based Al-Masdar News network's Syria Battle Maps at www.almasdarnews.com/article/battle-map-syrian-civil-war-june-2015/#prettyPhoto/0/".[1] Leaving it in place misleadingly suggests that the location is cited, so I'll remove the source and replace it with a 'citation needed' tag. --Iryna Harpy (talk) 22:02, 28 April 2017 (UTC)

References

  1. ^ Blockmans, Steven (31 August 2015). "Syria: An end to the hands-off policy" (PDF). CEPS Commentary. Brussels: Centre for European Policy Studies. p. 1. Retrieved 19 January 2017: see footnote 3.

Problem with info box[edit]

The contributors are listed as creators, which are two very different things. Any hints on how to fix this? It looks like it is part of the website infobox template. Is it the wrong template? Jd2718 (talk) 02:04, 1 May 2017 (UTC)

Hi, Jd2718. Thanks for drawing my attention to it. I should have checked as to why it was coughing up this unintuitive title for the parameter: it's a generic Template:Infobox website. I have to go through the templates and work out the most apt infobox to use. It can't really use a Template:Infobox newspaper as it has never been a physical publication. I'll take a look at some comparable articles and see what they use, but I suspect that I need to pick and choose the parameters of the current template carefully. --Iryna Harpy (talk) 10:27, 3 May 2017 (UTC)
Brad Blankenship name spelled incorrectly Dfroberg (talk) 16:24, 3 May 2017 (UTC)
Hi Iryna Harpy, thanks for the thoughts. I am looking at the (admittedly limited) WP article on Online newspaper. I could make a case that Al-Masdar fits. Would that give us a better template? What do you think? Jd2718 (talk) 21:32, 3 May 2017 (UTC)
@Jd2718: Actually, I've perused Category:News websites, and the current template seems to be the most commonly used one. I think I'll tweak the current version to remove parameters we have no reliable sourcing for. If more reliable sources are found for additional parameters to be instated, they can be added. If other editors deem that another infobox would be preferable, it should be discussed on this talk page. It seems that it's more of a matter of making the current template fit for purpose. --Iryna Harpy (talk) 21:53, 3 May 2017 (UTC)

Ownership, identity and reliability[edit]

Suggest a reference is added to "Jumping to conclusions; something is not adding up in Idlib chemical weapons attack" [1] citation to balance the Business Insider reference and to give context. Dfroberg (talk) 14:57, 3 May 2017 (UTC)

In reference to Al-Masdar issued a statement on behalf of its (anonymous) Board of Directors the page has been updated to reflect the current board of directors[2], so suggest (anonymous) is replaced by reference. Dfroberg (talk) 15:04, 3 May 2017 (UTC)

References

@Dfroberg: Given that a-M does not meet with the criteria for WP:RS, using it as a source to balance the content would be WP:FALSEBALANCE. --Iryna Harpy (talk) 22:34, 3 May 2017 (UTC)
Ah ok figured it would be informative for people to know what article Business insider was refering to and drew its conclusions from. Dfroberg (talk) 22:53, 3 May 2017 (UTC)

Here is the link to the El-Pais article that gives information on Al-Masdar, including its funding and Leith Fadel: http://internacional.elpais.com/internacional/2017/03/14/actualidad/1489508659_727039.html— Preceding unsigned comment added by DogoArgento (talkcontribs) 4 May 2017 (UTC)

Getting some descriptive content in the artcle[edit]

Hi folks as I have a COI and would like to avoid more egg on my face but at the same time would like the article to be at least somewhat descriptive, I figure we'd just do it the collaborative way.

I did an edit in the format of the Drudge_Report but it turned out to be too WP:PROMO I'd appreciate a hand of some more seasoned WP editors.

Added a screenshot: File:AMN_Frontpage.jpg

Please let me know, how to proceed Dfroberg (talk) 09:41, 4 May 2017 (UTC)

@Dfroberg: I'm not convinced that a screen capture of the format is particularly edifying for the reader. I know that there are other parallel articles using such captures, but the layout of news sites is fairly much of a muchness (no offence intended). If other editors disagree, I'm happy to go with consensus, but the link to the website is edifying while the screen capture is more of a hindrance/distraction. Again that's a personal preference that probably falls into the WP:JUSTDECORATIVE category.
@Iryna Harpy: no offense taken :) I was just perusing other similar articles and quite a few seemed to have one so added it as a proposal, perhaps just our logo would be sufficient? Dfroberg (talk) 01:57, 5 May 2017 (UTC)
As regards constructive input, sourced content as to where the publication is based would make an excellent start. I also think that the El-Pais article (talk section above), excluding the op-ed is useable for developing the history section of the article. I'll go through it when I have a moment and glean the relevant information for the section. --Iryna Harpy (talk) 01:34, 5 May 2017 (UTC)
@Iryna Harpy: That'd be appreciated, I've been collecting links in my sandbox that could use a critical eye once I'm done, darn it's a lot of work. Dfroberg (talk) 01:57, 5 May 2017 (UTC)
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Suggested edit: AMN is "pro-government", not "pro-regime", the distinction might sound silly but AMN would be pro-government, pro-secular & anti-extremist even if the current administration in Damascus is switched out in a lawful manner (and by lawful I mean by way of elections etc). Dfroberg (talk) 02:10, 5 May 2017 (UTC)

Do you have a source for that? PhilKnight (talk) 02:25, 5 May 2017 (UTC)
@PhilKnight: Here you go [11].— Preceding unsigned comment added by Dfroberg (talkcontribs) 03:53, 5 May 2017 (UTC)
@Dfroberg: No, that's not a third party source. You've used a-M as a source on itself. --Iryna Harpy (talk) 04:25, 5 May 2017 (UTC)
@PhilKnight: Actually, what I've turned up via RS is the use of "pro-Assad" over and above the other two variants. See this ABC Media Watch transcript (ignoring the op-ed), as well as the sources used in the article thus far, although pro-Syrian government is also used. There are, of course, multiple sources, but virtually nothing in the way of sources that meet with RS standards commenting on a-M. The "pro-regime" was a good faith attempt to rework unsourced content (here) originally introduced here (which I reverted). To be honest, I don't believe that the paragraph should remain as it is not reliably sourced. --Iryna Harpy (talk) 04:32, 5 May 2017 (UTC)
@Iryna Harpy: It's a statement by and about a-M's stance, clarifying THEIR position, of course, it would be sourced from a-M!? Dfroberg (talk) 05:05, 5 May 2017 (UTC)
@Iryna Harpy: @PhilKnight: It's worth noting that most of the WP:RS relation to the Syrian conflict and therefore a-M is "complicated" to say the least; [1] Dfroberg (talk) 05:34, 5 May 2017 (UTC)

References

@Iryna Harpy: noticed you changed @EkoGraf: edit to "pro-Assad government" with the reference it was the most commonly used term; a quick google news search resulted in the following:
a google news search of: "pro assad" "al-masdar" -site:almasdarnews.com results in 111 matches.
a google news search of: "pro regime" "al-masdar" -site:almasdarnews.com results in 89 matches.
a google news search of: "pro government" "al-masdar" -site:almasdarnews.com results in 173 matches.
No other filters where used, the "pro assad" search shows a large number of matches being the same article (#syriahoax) syndicated over multiple publications. And quite a few where a-M was mentioned in relation to pro-Assad forces actions
I am aware that google news searches are not references by themselves, but they do help in finding ratios Dfroberg (talk) 10:11, 5 May 2017 (UTC)
Yes, I actually did a few searches myself with +/- queries which yielded the approximately the same results. When there are so few results in total, WP:COMMONNAME can't really be established. This is where WP:COMMONSENSE needs to be applied, so I believe that clarity should be the foremost concern. Again, if other editors have a policy or guideline based opinion, they're more than welcome to state there case here. --Iryna Harpy (talk) 10:31, 5 May 2017 (UTC)
@Iryna Harpy: worth noting that a news search without any of the prefixes "al-masdar news" -site:almasdarnews.com yielded 5 680 results. (Had to add the "news" bit to ensure that it was a-M they were writing about and not someone else (21 600 results otherwise). Perhaps we should just remove the pro-whatever prefix altogether? Dfroberg (talk) 10:51, 5 May 2017 (UTC)
Saying pro-Assad government is POV. There is only one government in Syria. Saying pro-Syrian government would be ok. EkoGraf (talk) 14:06, 5 May 2017 (UTC)
I disagree. Such descriptors may become redundant over time, but RS are specifically tying a-M to support of Assad's government, not just any generic concept of secular 'Syrian government'. This is not POV in the sense you are implying but following RS descriptions as they stand. --Iryna Harpy (talk) 20:23, 5 May 2017 (UTC)
@EkoGraf: I have been pondering this a bit; AMN writes about events all over the middle east, not only Syria, should we list our stance on every government or opposition in each country? And who else in the media landscape does or is required to do that? :). And now Neutrality happily went in and edited with the support of Iryna Harpy the entire History section is now gone. So since editors have to go around and find WP:RS third party confirmation on absolutely every little detail, I'm getting the feeling that no content other than critical (no matter if later edited to opinion see #SyriaHoax) would be included. But hey, as I have a disclosed COI, I'll keep suggesting stuff and let you guys decide Dfroberg (talk) 09:21, 6 May 2017 (UTC)
Yes, we must "go around and find WP:RS ... on absolutely every little detail." That's exactly what Wikipedia:Verifiability (WP:BURDEN) requires. Neutralitytalk 22:30, 6 May 2017 (UTC)
@Neutrality: copy that! Dfroberg (talk) 11:35, 7 May 2017 (UTC)
We released our German edition [1] last night, perhaps an update of the infobox Language section would be in order. Dfroberg (talk) 11:35, 7 May 2017 (UTC)

References

This article exists because editors believe AMN is notable, but what if rules prevent that being expressed in the article?[edit]

Al Masdar is notable. Someone tried to delete it claiming non-notability; editors did not agree. It was closed as keep. Al Masdar is more and more frequently cited in the western media, for two reasons: 1) to cite particular numbers, stats, or data related to the war that only a news outlet with direct access to the Syrian military would have, 2) to cover what the western media find to be particularly egregious pro-Syrian propaganda or conspiracy theories (eg, the wide coverage of Al Masdar's theory that the gas attack on Khan Sheykhoun was actually the result of the Syrian Air Force hitting rebel poison gas supplies).

The first category, unfortunately, creates no trail of WP-citable secondary sources. The second category, on the other hand, does. Thus we are left with an article that describes what is wrong with Al Masdar, while not addressing what it is, or what makes it notable in the first place. On my browser, I see a 2-line descriptor followed by a heading and 9 text lines of negative critique.

The requirement to provide reliable secondary sources has left us with a deformed article, that fails to describe what it's subject really is, or why anyone cares about it.

I propose that we continue to look for reliable secondary sources, but failing that, for the time being, we follow the admonishment: if a rule prevents you from improving or maintaining Wikipedia, ignore it Let's use Al-Masdar itself as a source for some minor, non-controversial descriptive statements of how Al Masdar views itself. Let's clearly describe any information gleaned this way as Al Masdar's claims, which they are. https://www.almasdarnews.com/about/ Jd2718 (talk) 02:11, 6 May 2017 (UTC)

You are not addressing the reasons for its WP:N. In fact, according to reliable sources, its notability is for less than attractive reasons, so please don't try to conflate a-M's notability with being a WP:RS. You are inflating the 2nd category (as being 'cited') with breaking news where it their reports are A) attributed (discussed above, and usually along with other 'local' sources: the journalists from the RS covering themselves with such attribution as they will not be held liable for repeating reports, and nor will the reliable source their articles are published in; B) Your reading of, and justification for, WP:IAR is actually WP:GEVAL.
I've checked the El-Pais article which only briefly alludes to a-M, and only in the capacity of re-citing Leith Abou Fadel's own explanation for the aims of his news site, and that it is run on donations, but in no way does substantiate any of his claims. I understand that you are trying to develop this article in good faith, but there is nothing to develop other than the rehashing of a-M (and a-M's representatives) statements about themselves. This is a Wikipedia article, and as editors of an encyclopaedic source we do not resort to winging it in the hopes that some form of sourcing can be found. Such development is WP:ADVOCACY. I have tried to come up with some sort of independent/third party sourcing of value over the last few days. I can't find any. The article must come straight to the point. Trying to spin-doctor it in hopes of backing up claims later is WP:COATRACK. Please remember that our objective is not, and has never been, WP:RIGHTGREATWRONGS. Whatever our personal political proclivities may be, we put them on the shelf before we edit. --Iryna Harpy (talk) 03:45, 6 May 2017 (UTC)

So I read the El-Pais article and nowhere in it does Leith Abou Fadel state he runs the site on donations. I am confused about where you're getting this information. He specifically stated he funded the site himself. The reason I bring this is up is due to your insistence that you have done your due diligence on the topic; this is an error on your part. Salimidris (talk) 05:03, 10 June 2017 (UTC)

Apparently Alternet have no problem using a-M's very clear reporting[1] as a source to critique other WP:RS Dfroberg (talk) 09:27, 6 May 2017 (UTC)
@Jd2718: I added a section below with Mentions & Attribution, take a gander and see if any of it is any use to establish WP:N -- Dfroberg (talk) 09:55, 6 May 2017 (UTC)
Iryna Harpy, notability was the given reason for nominating this article for deletion; that argument failed. It's our editors who decided that the topic is notable.
I am not trying to balance the article - you misread. We report criticism of AMN. But we do not have articles about other "news sources" who are criticized in exactly the same way. The difference between AMN and scores of similar sources is the context that makes the article make sense.
AMN gets covered in a way that WP can use, and similar sites do not - because AMN is, in the real world, a place that many reporters on the war in Syria check. And, for on-the-ground details (numbers, deployments, shelling and air raid locations), reporters use it. That's the context that makes it worth covering the criticism of AMN. That context dominated the AfD discussion - and while its basis in Wikipedia Policy is tenuous, that context is what led to deciding to keep this article. And the context needs to be reflected in the article, not to give a sense of balance, but rather to give a sense of why this article even exists. Jd2718 (talk) 15:25, 7 May 2017 (UTC)

I agree that the article as it currently stands is deformed by the tendency of media to report only on interesting stories. A digital forensics trail linking how one opinion article later showed up on Alex Jones, alt-right and pro-Russian sites? That makes an interesting story. But it's not the reason that the site is important to followers of the Syrian conflict, which is, as you said, because it's used by followers and reporters of the conflict to find "on-the-ground details (numbers, deployments, shelling and air raid locations)". This is an inherent feature of Wikipedia's system (only being as good as what's published in the sources its editors are willing to consider acceptable, and at present, no such source has seen fit to publish a more "boring" analysis about AMN and its impact).

In any case, I rewrote the criticism section a little to make it clear that the Atlantic Council (elite US think tank) report came first, which was later re-reported by the Business Insider article, and that the names providing the contrasting views in the Business Insider article came from a director of that elite US think tank, top US officials, and an official from rebel-held Syria. Esn (talk) 22:50, 11 May 2017 (UTC)

@Esn: your rewrite is detailed and gives a proper sequence of events, especially since the original IBT story was re-written as an op-ed and fluffed out a bit. No one among the AMN editors is particularly surprised that a US think tank would try and link them to conspiracy sites and the infamous Alex Jones, but at least this makes it clearer for the WP article reader. --Dfroberg (talk) 18:27, 14 May 2017 (UTC)
Thanks. My philosophy when editing Wikipedia is always to emphasize "transparency" in a way that lets a reader make up their own minds rather than making them view information through a narrow filter. A user removed part of my edit on May 19, claiming that the removal makes it more "clear". However, I added it back because I think it's important to clearly inform the reader of which notable people or organizations were on the opposite side of the controversial opinion article's views. In other words, who was it controversial with. Esn (talk) 03:00, 28 June 2017 (UTC)

Reliability[edit]

I am confused by the "reliability" section on the page. The article written by Business Insider had to be updated because the originally blamed Al-Masdar for the #SyriaHoax and then they changed it to an "op-ed" on Al-Masdar. Also, how is Business Insider a trusted source on the Middle East? — Preceding unsigned comment added by DogoArgento (talkcontribs) 07:59, 6 May 2017 (UTC)

Mentions & Attribution[edit]

I've started a list with samples of source attributions and mentions of a-M, that show quite a broad reach. Please add comments to the list on each citation's suitability as a reference. Feel free to add citations regardless if they agree or oppose a-M articles as it's still a mention. Dfroberg (talk) 09:37, 6 May 2017 (UTC)

WP:RS[edit]

Al-Monitor [2]

Alternet [3]

BBC [4] [5]

BILD [6]

Bloomberg [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14]

Business Standard [15]

Dagbladet [16]

Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten [17]

El Pais [18][19][20][21]

Euronews [22][23][24]

Financial Times [25]

FRANCE 24 [26]

International Business Times [27] [28] [29] [30] [31] [32] [33] [34] [35] [36]

Hispan TV [37] [38]

Market Watch [39][40]

Newsweek [41] [42] [43] [44]

Snopes [45]

teleSUR [46] [47] [48]

Times of Israel [49] [50]

UPI [51]

Voice of America [52][53]

Washington Post [54][55][56]

WP:RS ?[edit]

Arab News [57]

Breaking Israel News [58]

Financial Express [59]

Tribune Greece [60]

Syria Direct [61] [62] [63] [64]

References

References

  1. ^ http://www.alternet.org/grayzone-project/tahrir-al-sham-al-qaeda-syria-hama-damascus-media
  2. ^ "Why Russian warplanes might return to Iran". Al Monitor. 30 August 2016.
  3. ^ "Al Qaeda Is Attacking Major Syrian Cities with US Weapons — but You Wouldn't Know That from the Media". Alternet (in en_US). 13 March 2017.
  4. ^ "Syria conflict: 'Israeli jets' strike outside Damascus". BBC. 30 November 2016.
  5. ^ "Syria conflict: Army cuts IS supply route into al-Bab". BBC. 6 February 2017.
  6. ^ "Angriff auf Hisbollah am Flughafen von Damaskus". BILD (in German). 27 April 2017.
  7. ^ "Yemeni Rebels Say Saudi-Led Airstrike Killed 23 Civilians". Bloomberg. 17 May 2017.
  8. ^ "Trump's Missiles Hit Domestic Critics Harder Than Assad". Bloomberg. 19 April 2017.
  9. ^ "Trump Squeezes Putin in Syria. Don't Assume That's Good". Bloomberg. 19 April 2017.
  10. ^ "Governor of Aden Killed in Yemen Bombing, Al-Masdar Says". Bloomberg. 6 December 2015.
  11. ^ "U.S. Confident That a Top Al-Qaeda Leader Was Killed in Yemen". Bloomberg. 16 June 2015.
  12. ^ "Women Only at Yemeni Gas Station as Shortages Strain Nerves". Bloomberg. 26 May 2015.
  13. ^ "Saudi Arabia Announces Yemen Cease-Fire as Clashes Persist". Bloomberg. 12 May 2015.
  14. ^ "Yemen's Houthis Extend Advance in South After Saudi Warning". Bloomberg. 24 March 2015.
  15. ^ "Houthi rebel missile strikes Riyadh military base: Reports". Business Standard. 6 February 2017.
  16. ^ "Frykter folkerettsbrudd: Ber forsvarsministeren klargjøre om norske soldater er i Syria". Dagbladet (in Norwegian). 22 May 2017.
  17. ^ "Aleppo: Hunderte ISIS-Kämpfer fliehen vor Syrern und Russen". Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten (in Spanish). 21 February 2016.
  18. ^ "Expulsados de las calles sirias, los activistas toman las redes sociales". El Pais (in Spanish). 15 March 2017.
  19. ^ Sancha, Natalia (2017-04-06). "Un supuesto ataque químico causa una matanza en la zona rebelde siria". EL PAÍS (in Spanish). Retrieved 2017-05-05.
  20. ^ Sancha, Natalia (2016-01-26). "El Asad recupera una localidad clave en el sur de Siria con ayuda de Rusia". EL PAÍS (in Spanish). Retrieved 2017-05-05.
  21. ^ Sancha, Natalia (2016-04-07). "El régimen sirio denuncia el secuestro de 300 empleados a manos del ISIS". EL PAÍS (in Spanish). Retrieved 2017-05-05.
  22. ^ "Syria peace talks begin in Astana". Euronews (in en_US). 22 January 2017.
  23. ^ Kearney, Seamus (2017-01-13). "Iraqi soldiers storm Mosul university in further push against ISIL". euronews. Retrieved 2017-05-05.
  24. ^ "Siege of Aleppo: battle reaches crescendo". euronews. 2016-11-27. Retrieved 2017-05-05.
  25. ^ "Syria accuses Israel of firing rockets at Damascus air base". Financial Times (in en_US). 13 January 2017.
  26. ^ "Syrian regime forces besiege rebel-held areas of Aleppo". FRANCE 24 (in en_US). 17 July 2016.
  27. ^ "Iraqi Army bans burqa in Mosul after ISIS militants use it to launch attacks". International Business Times. 31 May 2017.
  28. ^ "Syria Ceasefire: Hezbollah, Syrian Opposition Agree To Truce In Zabadani, Idlib". International Business Times. 28 September 2015.
  29. ^ "Russian Forces Strike Syria's Southern Rebels In Preparation For Pro-Regime Ground Offensive". International Business Times. 29 October 2015.
  30. ^ "ISIS Attack In Ramadi? Iraqi Military Base Threatened After Troops Liberate City From Islamic State: Reports". International Business Times. 1 January 2016.
  31. ^ "Market In Historic Syrian World Heritage Site Destroyed By Fire Amid ISIS, Civil War Tensions". International Business Times. 23 April 2016.
  32. ^ "Syrian Civil War: Kurds, Russia Sign Military Base Agreement". International Business Times. 20 March 2017.
  33. ^ "Damascus Bombing Live Updates: Syria Judicial Building Attack". International Business Times. 15 March 2017.
  34. ^ "Al Qaeda Second In Command Killed In Drone Strike In Syria". International Business Times. 26 January 2017.
  35. ^ "War On ISIS: Israel Bombs Hamas In Gaza, Hezbollah In Syria As Palestinians Join Fight". International Business Times. 27 January 2017.
  36. ^ "Jordan Receives US Black Hawk Helicopters After Deadly ISIS Battle". International Business Times. 4 March 2016.
  37. ^ "Ejército sirio ataca a un avión de EEUU y lo obliga a huir". Hispan TV (in Spanish). 8 April 2017.
  38. ^ "EIIL, falto de combatientes, recluta niños en Siria". Hispan TV (in Spanish). 1 May 2017.
  39. ^ "Tomahawk maker Raytheon, defense stocks retreat from highs fueled by Syrian strike". Market watch. 7 April 2017.
  40. ^ Abdulrahim, Raja. "Syrian media say air base suffered significant damage, casualties". MarketWatch. Retrieved 2017-05-05.
  41. ^ "ISIS MILITANTS DEFEATED IN BATTLES WITH SYRIAN ARMY AND KURDS BACKED BY U.S." Newsweek. 5 May 2017.
  42. ^ "Former Syrian rebel allies accuse Washington of deadly mosque strike". Newsweek. 17 March 2017.
  43. ^ "ISIS Has No Air Force, But It Has An Army Of Drones That Drop Bombs". Newsweek. 17 April 2017.
  44. ^ "What's Happening in Palmyra? Syrian Army, Russia Defeat ISIS". Newsweek. 15 April 2017.
  45. ^ "ISIS Issues Fatwa Against Breeding Cats in Mosul, Iraq". Snopes. 8 October 2016.
  46. ^ "Muslim Youth Protect Jordan's Churches on Easter in Solidarity". teleSUR. 16 April 2017.
  47. ^ "Israel Bombs Syrian Army Airport in Damascus: Reports". teleSUR. 12 January 2017.
  48. ^ "Hezbollah Warns Against Attacking Christians in the Middle East". teleSUR. 11 April 2017.
  49. ^ "Israeli jets strike outside Damascus – Syrian media". Times of Israel. 21 February 2017.
  50. ^ "'Hamas-Israel deal imminent,' to the dismay of Palestinian factions". Times of Israel. 16 August 2015.
  51. ^ "Iraq secures highway to Syria to curb Islamic State attacks". UPI (in en_US). 9 May 2017.
  52. ^ "Shelling Near Syrian Capital Hits Civilian Crisis Shelter, 30 Casualties Reported". Voice of America (in en_US). 15 January 2017.
  53. ^ Dettmer, Jamie. "Battle for Syria's Aleppo Heats Up as Rebels Press Offensive". VOA. Retrieved 2017-05-05.
  54. ^ Gibbons-Neff, Thomas (18 May 2016). "Despite supposed withdrawal, Russia building up new base in Syria, Pentagon says". Washington Post.
  55. ^ "WATCH: U.S.-made missile goes up against one of Russia's most advanced tanks". Washington Post. Retrieved 2017-05-05.
  56. ^ "State Department suggests Syrian regime soldier a hero in stray retweet". Washington Post. Retrieved 2017-05-05.
  57. ^ "Clarity required over Khan Sheikhun attack". Arab News. 19 April 2017.
  58. ^ "Israel Strikes Pro-Assad Forces in Syria After Mortars Land in Golan". Breaking Israel News. 23 April 2017.
  59. ^ "Yemen's Houthi rebel missile strikes Saudi Arabia's Riyadh military base". Financial Express. 6 February 2017.
  60. ^ "Οι Τούρκοι ετοιμάζονται να επιτεθούν στην κουρδική πόλη Τελ Αμπιάντ στη Συρία". Tribune Greece (in gr). 28 April 2017.
  61. ^ "'They're not letting us leave': Residents in east Damascus suburbs trapped as government renews military offensive". Syria Direct (in en_US). 13 March 2017.
  62. ^ "After 2 months of reprieve, regime bombards rebel-held Homs district without explanation". Syria Direct (in en_US). 9 February 2017.
  63. ^ "After 3 years of uneasy truce, sudden regime offensive disrupts East Ghouta tunnel trade". Syria Direct (in en_US). 9 March 2017.
  64. ^ "With fewer than 1,000 remaining, Darayya rebels 'abandoned' as regime advances". Syria Direct (in en_US). 11 July 2016.

Some of this seems a bit dubious to me. I haven't gone through this list methodically, but glancing at some of them they don't seem to show that a-M is a reliable source, even if they refer to it. Here's a few examples:

  • Snopes[12] - this article simply shows that some possibly fake news on an Iraqi website was quoted by a-M, and adds of the story being reported "indeed, it has yet to be independently verified that it was issued". In other words, it doesn't see a-M covering a story as a good enough source for the story being true. That is, it tends towards suggesting a-M is NOT RS.
  • BBC[13] - This is one of the examples closest to a reliable source using a-M as some kind of RS. It says "The pro-government Al-Masdar News website reported that the Israeli warplanes had fired Popeye missiles at Sabboura, 8km (5 miles) north-west of Damascus." I think the designation "pro-government", however, means "take with a pinch of salt". Same here[14]: "a military source told the pro-government al-Masdar website that troops were now within striking distance of the village of Tadif", i.e. a-M is seen as a mouthpiece of the Syrian military.
  • Bloomberg[15] - Note this is an editorial (BloombergView) not news item. However, it seems to use a-M as a source: "The Tomahawk attack in the early morning of April 7 killed up to nine of Assad’s servicemen and, according to relatively pro-Assad website Al-Masdar, destroyed six ancient Mig-23 fighter jets." In my view, the "according to" caveat suggests a-M's claims should be taken with a pinch of salt, i.e. that it is not a fully reliable source. The other Bloomberg piece, also an editorial by the same guy, is similar: "The somewhat pro-Assad news aggregator Al-Masdar is already reporting, based on unnamed sources, that IS has launched an offensive in the area near Shayrat." So it calls it an aggregator not a source, notes it doesn't name it sources, and puts in a caveat about bias.
  • Times of Israel[16]: Here the wording is "The pro-government al-Masdar news service quoted a Syrian Army source as saying that the Israeli aircraft flew first through Lebanon and then into Syria." The tone suggests that a-M is not a reliable source for real events, but a biased source that can be trusted to pass on the claims of the Syrian army.
  • Alternet[17] - Alternet is not the most reliable of sources, and this is an op ed by Ben Norton not a news item. Norton shows that several mainstream media outlets have reported something and that a-M reports something else: "Al-Masdar News was one of the only news outlets to make the presence of the extremist militants clear in its headlines", i.e. the article shows that a-M is a biased source, although the author likes that.

Those are the only ones I've looked at. None of them say to me that a-M is an unambigiously reliable source. I don't have time to look at the others, but I wouldn't be surprised if the pattern continued. BobFromBrockley (talk) 11:42, 15 May 2017 (UTC)

But again, reliability isn't based on bias; this is clear in the section on biased sources by Wikipedia: "Wikipedia articles are required to present a neutral point of view. However, reliable sources are not required to be neutral, unbiased, or objective. Sometimes non-neutral sources are the best possible sources for supporting information about the different viewpoints held on a subject."Salimidris (talk) 05:08, 10 June 2017 (UTC)

Sorry, two more. I checked the Newsweek and WaPo links, as these would be among the most solid sources listed here.

  • Newsweek[18] - "The pictures, which appeared on ISIS' Amaq News Agency and were shared by pro-Syrian government outlet Al Masdar News, purported to show a firsthand view of a weaponized drone operated by the militants" - that doesn't really suggest a-M is seen as RS, just that they shared some videos that ISIS posted first.
  • Washington Post[19] - This says "The problem was that the soldier labeled a "hero" was a Syrian army soldier. Fadel, whose profile says he is based in Lebanon and works as the editor of a website called Al-Masdar Al-'Arabi, has frequently posted messages supportive of Bashar al-Assad's Syrian regime, alongside incredibly gruesome photographs of dead and mutilated fighters from the Islamic State." The whole article is about why retweeting Leith Fadel is really, really embarrassing as he is, as one tweet quoted in the article puts it, "a pro Assad regime fanboy". So, this would be a very good citation to use for showing why a-M is NOT RS. BobFromBrockley (talk) 11:50, 15 May 2017 (UTC)
@Bobfrombrockley: Thanks a bunch for helping me trawl through these! In reporting on Syria, you're considered either pro-opp or pro-gov, AMN is pro-gov. News, as is, has very little bias, AMN simply has more military sources than "anonymous opposition" ones. Op-Ed are littered with it, depending on the author. WP:RS news agencies makes the distinction when it suits them. And Leith is f:ing hopeless! The other 50 or so writers span the entire spectrum. --Dfroberg (talk) 00:31, 17 May 2017 (UTC)
    • @Dfroberg. "Broad reach"/high citation in media does not make any source reliable per WP:RS. For example, there are hundreds references in books to Kavkaz Center. Is it an WP:RS? No. Can it be used with care, solely for describing views by people who published on this site? Yes, sure. Same with "Al-Masdar News". My very best wishes (talk) 16:34, 15 May 2017 (UTC)

It should be well documented that Bobfrombrockley shouldn't have a say in this, as his history proves he has a distinct bias. He has trolled Al-Masdar for years and even insulted the website. This should be done by non-biased editors, not people with personal vendettas.— Preceding unsigned comment added by Salimidris (talkcontribs) 02:18, 21 May 2017 (UTC)

@My very best wishes: I realize that. This list was more of a hunt for usable references, thus me listing both positive and negative ones, one less than flattering one has already been added to the critique section. I'm fine with that, as long as the information is usable. Would it in the long run lead to a more balanced article, awesome, but I wont hold my breath :) --Dfroberg (talk) 00:31, 17 May 2017 (UTC)
@Dfroberg: Could you please stop adding to the already copious list of mentions on this talk page. While I appreciate that you are trying to be helpful, none of these attest to the reliability of a-M. Thanks. --Iryna Harpy (talk) 01:19, 2 June 2017 (UTC)
@Iryna Harpy: ok now I'm a tad confused by your statement; above there is talk i.e. your own request "Could you qualify the "is still being widely quoted as a source about Syrian events" with some examples illustrating the usage by WP:RS (i.e., with attribution, within op-ed pieces, presented as fact, etc.)?" about notability and the lack of a reference list just like the one I'm compiling, so how would compiling it not be helpful? As to the reliability a-M, which references attests against it since you went through them all to come to the conclusion that none of them attests for a-M's reliability. Dfroberg (talk) 09:31, 2 June 2017 (UTC)
The Alternet, BBC, Bloomberg, Newsweek, Snopes, Times of Israel and Washington Post uses of al-M all all show that al-M is NOT considered a reliable source by mainstream reliable sources. Most of the other links seem to be to more marginal media sources and news aggregators. The links here seem to me to refute the claim of reliability. BobFromBrockley (talk) 11:12, 2 June 2017 (UTC)
@Bobfrombrockley: "Most of the other links seem to be to more marginal media sources and news aggregator" Marginal? Could you please quantify that statement Dfroberg (talk) 14:05, 7 June 2017 (UTC)
Per Bobfrombrockley's observation, what you are compiling is a list of mentions in breaking news (with attribution where used by RS), plus usage of a-M's reports in unreliable sources. We are living in an age where opinions have become cheap and easy to circulate worldwide. Anyone man and his dog can set up a news site, and anyone can publish at editorial discretion. What has been established in copious past discussions about sources such as Alternet (for example) is that its reports are only as good as the reporter, not the source itself. As was noted to you by another editor (at the RSN, I think?), a-M simply doesn't hasn't been around long enough to have a history of fact-checking, neutrality, etc. to have merited anything that approaches RS status. In stark contrast to RS, it is depicted as being biased and unreliable as is understood in ordinary terminology, but for Wikipedia's purposes, WP:BIASED is contingent on an historical framework and general reliability dependent on the context. Your list keeps growing, but the substance remains the same. --Iryna Harpy (talk) 21:06, 2 June 2017 (UTC)
@Iryna Harpy: & @Bobfrombrockley: I've added quite a few RS references that source AMN as they would any other RS to see if anyone would actually bother reviewing them in good faith. But I see that the same editors over and over again cherry pick the references they believe agree with their POV and dismiss the rest as "marginal" or similar. AMN provides factually correct news every day, and if you note that none of the discussions here or elsewhere on WP refutes that, pretty good all in all for a "man and his dog" operation wouldn't you agree. Oh and for reference; No, there is nothing cheap nor easy about creating a publishing agency with journalists in the field in war zones. If you really believe that, perhaps you guys should try it, feel free to let me know how it went. I have to ask, is there ANY interest by the current editors in developing this article further and if so what do you need? Dfroberg (talk) 14:05, 7 June 2017 (UTC)
@Dfroberg: No one is discussing the difficulties of reporting from a war zone, nor deriding correspondents and editors for their efforts. It would also be appreciated if you did not make assumptions about what other editors have (or have not) lived through or done in their lives. What is under discussion is the content of an encyclopaedic article, and the majority of your sources are not RS. The bottom line is that RS are consistently querying the reliability of a-M. As for using emotive arguments about the conditions of reportage, you keep bypassing the fact that editors and articles are WP:NPOV according to Wikipedia's intent behind the policy. What my personal views on specific situations and world politics are left outside the door when I put on my 'editor' hat. Please don't twist my observation about the innumerable news sites that exist, their biases, and who they quote (etc.) into something other than my intent. Reiterating: the bottom line is what mainstream RS say on the subject. --Iryna Harpy (talk) 20:07, 8 June 2017 (UTC)
@Iryna Harpy: "Anyone man and his dog can set up a news site," IS deriding correspondents and editors of AMN for their efforts. And if I offended any WP editors who have gone through setting up a news agency with a focus on the contentious subject matter of the middle east, by my previous statement, I apologize! "majority of your sources are not RS" would be dandy if you could quantify that. I keep hearing about these elusive RS, but no one seems to be able to list them, nor quantify why a seemingly RS source is not one. I'm truly and honestly looking forward to some clarity on this! Truly! Dfroberg (talk) 21:38, 8 June 2017 (UTC)

I have been studying what is considered a "reliable source" on Wikipedia and I am confused by your arguments. Al-Masdar is often the primary source or the leading secondary source of information.

Wikipedia considers questionable sources as the following: "Such sources include websites and publications expressing views that are widely acknowledged as extremist, that are promotional in nature, or that rely heavily on rumors and personal opinions."

Al-Masdar doesn't post personal opinions, nor do they rely on rumors. If rumors are reported, they are attributed to the source of the rumor.

In regards to Al-Masdar's perceived bias, Wikipedia states the following:

"However, reliable sources are not required to be neutral, unbiased, or objective. Sometimes non-neutral sources are the best possible sources for supporting information about the different viewpoints held on a subject."

This leads me to another thing: "Editorial commentary, analysis and opinion pieces, whether written by the editors of the publication (editorials) or outside authors (op-eds) are reliable primary sources for statements attributed to that editor or author, but are rarely reliable for statements of fact."

Much of the criticism section is based on article written by the Business Insider; however, the author herself, changed the content of the article after she learned it was an op-ed. In reality, is the Business Insider article really fact or merely opinion?

The page itself looks unprofessional. Most of the content on the page is in the criticism section, which begs the question "why" - if this is an encyclopedia article, it is up to the moderators to ensure that it is educational and neutral. Salimidris (talk) 04:52, 10 June 2017 (UTC)

@Salimidris: All of the issues you're bringing up across this talk page have been thoroughly discussed at the [sources noticeboard and elsewhere. The article is based on a-M's self description and what little has been said about this news aggregator by reliable sources. It is not a WP:COATRACK for listing how many times a-M reports have been used in breaking news stories, nor a promotional piece to voice a-M's opinions, or an entry to create the illusion that it is a reliable source. The fact that it is more notable for notoriety than reliability may be unfortunate for a-M, but your reading of WP:NPOV for an encyclopaedic article is incorrect. Please stop trying to remove content based on WP:JUSTDONTLIKEIT arguments, personal attacks, and general WP:BLUDGEON tactics. --Iryna Harpy (talk) 21:28, 10 June 2017 (UTC)

That is not true. I have studied different discussions about Al-Masdar and think "conflicts of interest" actually exist here. Some of the editors voted to delete Al-Masdar during a vote; yet, they are editing the actual article. These people lost the vote to remove the page and still editing the page; this is a problem. You say avoid personal attacks, but I think that is a way to divert attention from the bias exists. Dfroberg specifically showed you Al-Masdar is called "pro-government" far more often "pro-regime," but you refused to change this. It's as if something were factual about Al-Masdar, you would shoot it down and the source.

I mean, I read through the comments you made, many of them are incorrect. You claimed Al-Masdar receives donations, but nowhere did Leith Fadel or any buddy from Al-Masdar claim this. You cited the El-Pais article, but that was incorrect. I don't know if this needs to go to mediation, but it may.

Furthermore, your comments suggest a sort of bias when it comes to the page:

"Antonopoulos wasn't some small-fry who could be easily lost in the day-to-day machinations, he is a founding member and Deputy Editor from at least 2015 until a few days ago (see this archived capture all the way through to the latest capture here). All of the posturing aside, this means that al Madsar fails per WP:QUESTIONABLE, full stop. It is absolutely WP:NOTRELIABLE (and that is a policy, not a guideline). Talk about editorial oversight!"

Antonopolous wasn't a founding member of Al-Masdar and he was not Deputy Editor since 2015. Based on his Twitter profile, he did not include the title until 2016.

In many instances, you have insulted the website, but you do not see this as a personal bias. Salimidris (talk) 22:11, 10 June 2017 (UTC)

Business Insider re-report with contrasted the analysis[edit]

Re recent disagreement over whether to mention Business Insider's re-reporting of the Atlantic Council report (edits rvt1, rvt2 and rvt3.

To me, an important aspect of the criticism of the a-M Khan Shaykhun report was that the report gave a very different view to the majority opinion at the time. The DFRLab report was mainly about a-M's story being echoed by various partisan sites. I think we do need to mention the contrast between a-M's report and other views of the event, as expressed by the Business Insider article. That contrast is a key part of the criticism. Batternut (talk) 14:59, 2 July 2017 (UTC)

Please read the 2nd reversion edit summary again, then read WP:CHERRY and WP:COATRACK. --Iryna Harpy (talk) 20:51, 2 July 2017 (UTC)
Let's look at Jd2718's revert comment: Info isn't about Al Masdar but about Khan Shaykhun, and cherrypicks those who disagree, ignoring, inter alia, Seymour Hersh, it is clear to me that the text deleted was about the analysis in a-M's article, which reflects absolutely upon a-M.
Re wp:Cherry, perhaps the BI article, which ignores Hersh etc, is a red cherry, but without a pertinent source for a Hershy dark purple cherry, what can we do? (Have such a source, anyone?)
Re wp:coatrack, I see nothing coatracky about the text that Jd2718 removed - the criticism is about a-M's journalism.
Yes, balance is tricky. Back in April I attempted some balance with "a-M has been quoted thousands of times by other news vendors such as Newsweek, The Washington Post, RT...", but that got pulled out (unreasonably imho).
Anyway, I'd suggest "Business Insider contrasted the a-M article with the views of analysts from the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East and others", ie with less name dropping. What might be problematic about such a statement? Batternut (talk) 09:01, 3 July 2017 (UTC)
Because BI was attacking AMN, it mentioned a list of those who disagreed with it. It is certainly possible for a good source to engage in point-making - that is what we are looking at here. There is a list of people and journals who agree with AMN; there is a far, far longer list who disagree. But they don't mention AMN and don't belong in the article. Jd2718 (talk) 10:40, 3 July 2017 (UTC)
Jd2718, to find a patch of common ground, would you have a problem with "Business Insider contrasted the opinions in the AMN article with the views of other analysts"? Batternut (talk) 10:59, 3 July 2017 (UTC)
@Batternut and Jd2718: I honestly don't think the additional content is informative for the reader. It looks as if it's been tacked on and doesn't really impart any information. My 2¢ worth is that it would either have to be further developed to demonstrate the chain of information, or should just go (the latter being my preference per discussions already recorded on this talk page). If it were WP:DUE for usage in an article on the dissemination of the reportage of this specific incident, that's where it would belong. Such intricacies are WP:OFFTOPIC in an article space only functioning as an overview of the given news agency. Besides, the salient "Business Insider" information is dealt with in the final paragraph. --Iryna Harpy (talk) 01:27, 18 July 2017 (UTC)
I agree with the reasoning and the edit. Jd2718 (talk) 02:22, 18 July 2017 (UTC)
@Jd2718: Just to clarify - you agree with the proposed "common ground" statement, or the revert? Batternut (talk) 22:55, 18 July 2017 (UTC)
OK, what do people think of "The theme of the AMN article was shown to differ markedly with the views of other analysts by a Business Insider report". The point is to mention the scepticism with which the AMN report was received, which is the WP:TOPIC. Batternut (talk) 09:23, 18 July 2017 (UTC)
By the way, the talk, wait 5 minutes, edit, ignore talk for days pattern is quite annoying, and not in the right spirit. Batternut (talk) 09:23, 18 July 2017 (UTC)
@Batternut: My apologies for appearing to waylay the issue, but I've been busy IRL (please check my user page and, also, a reminder that Wikipedia is WP:NOTBUREAUCRACY). I honestly didn't have time to review the additional content immediately. I'm happy to wait on other editors to weigh in. I've said my piece, and we've already had Jd2718 respond. We do, however, have to bear in mind that this article has little traffic, therefore it may be best to take it to the WP:NPOVN should there be no other editors responding in the next few days. --Iryna Harpy (talk) 20:38, 18 July 2017 (UTC)
@Iryna Harpy: "Not bureaucracy"? Seems irrelevant, relates to what? Batternut (talk) 23:02, 18 July 2017 (UTC)
Immediate responses to changes may be desirable, but they're not always possible. While we try to be professional, we are volunteers with other commitments who shouldn't be expected to respond immediately, etc. I don't mind being reprimanded for a revert when it seems unfair, but there's nothing unusual about such delays. You made a BOLD addition and didn't get a response immediately. That doesn't mean that it was accepted by numerous editors watching this article like hawks because there simply aren't numerous editors working constantly on this article. I believe that I followed the spirit of the project, but I am sorry that I offended you because you don't believe I should have removed the content. As I understand it, it did not become the default consensus for inclusion just because the development of this article is moving in slow motion due to lack of editors. --Iryna Harpy (talk) 23:19, 18 July 2017 (UTC)

OK, thanks. Let's move on: what about "The theme of the AMN article was shown to differ markedly with the views of other analysts by a Business Insider report"? I like this version best. Batternut (talk) 00:52, 21 July 2017 (UTC)

@Batternut: Apologies for the delay in responding. Yes, I'd agree that it is appropriately brief and imparts salient information. I'm not sure about the use of 'theme'. What about, "The information carried by the AMN article..." / "The position taken by the AMN article..."? (I think my preference would be for the latter.) --Iryna Harpy (talk) 21:15, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
How's about "The conclusions reached in the AMN article ..."? "Theme" is rather woolly, but "information" is also vague. It was mostly the "defies logic" and "false flag" stuff that was disputed in the BI article - more like opinion that hard fact. Batternut (talk) 21:48, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
None of this adds anything to the article. The article identifies AMN's pro-Assad slant already. There's no need to cite Business Insider to clarify that some people disagree with AMN. I've got no axe to grind with Business Insider; it's just the cite doesn't belong here. Jd2718 (talk) 01:48, 24 July 2017 (UTC)
The article does indeed quote some pro-government descriptions. For me the digital forensics episode seems rather hollow without pointing out that AMN presented a little-believed conclusion. Without that element the story is just one of some news report being made use of by ult-right websites. Batternut (talk) 20:27, 24 July 2017 (UTC)
Okay, now I have to admit that I'm on the fence as to the inclusion. I was certain that it was redundant, but I've gotten to the point of overthinking the changes. There are only three of us arguing our cases for inclusion or exclusion, so I'd be more comfortable if we took it to the NPOVN. Would either of you think this is overkill, or would you be amenable to bringing in some more opinions (if other editors are interested)? --Iryna Harpy (talk) 22:11, 24 July 2017 (UTC)
If just perhaps my previous comment convinces Jd2718 of the value of the statement, then I'd suggest there's no need. I haven't been involved in an NPOVN discussion so it would be educational for me, but isn't DUE the issue? Batternut (talk) 23:27, 24 July 2017 (UTC)
BTW, I'm off on holiday imminently. Having complained of slow responses by others, I'm in danger of getting very tardy myself. Perhaps we could avoid the noticeboards for a month, for the sake of the debate? Batternut (talk) 23:37, 24 July 2017 (UTC)
The problem is that we don't seem to have reached consensus as to whether it's DUE or not. The NPOVN would simply get some more eyes on the issue from uninvolved editors. It's a far more casual venue than the ANI (et al). For the moment, I'd suggest changing the current wording to your last suggestion as it's clearer than the current sentence at the end of the paragraph. In all honesty, I'm not it a huge hurry as I don't think it's a make or break deal for the article. I'm fine with letting it stand in the amended incarnation until you're available to discuss it further. --Iryna Harpy (talk) 01:52, 25 July 2017 (UTC)
I'm happy to do NPOVN (preferably when I'm back). I've just amended the article to "Business Insider showed the conclusions in the AMN article differing markedly with those of other analysts", as an interim wording. Batternut (talk) 22:49, 25 July 2017 (UTC) (bag packing now...)

Hi, I've re-added the removed section with a few changes (sorry, I don't go on Wikipedia very often any more and I didn't see this discussion earlier). The point I wish to emphasize for the reader is to make it very clear where specifically the objections to the AMN opinion article came from. In other words, who the dissenting parties are. I think this is particularly relevant in an article about a site famous for its war reporting and accused of being biased for one side of the conflict. Esn (talk) 06:05, 22 September 2017 (UTC)

It seems very bizarre to me to devote quite so many words to a single Business Insider article. The conclusion of Donald Trump in the list is also tendentious. I think just "other analysts" or "the mainstream view" or "the analysis supported by the OPCW" is sufficient. I also think this paragraph should be the last rather than first paragraph in the section, as it is the least significant and most specific, but I am wary of editing while this discussion is (again) on-going. BobFromBrockley (talk) 07:54, 22 September 2017 (UTC)
I tend to agree with Bob on the emphasis - listing everyone seems excessive; one big name should do, + " and others". Maybe "Business Insider showed the conclusions in the AMN article differing markedly from the views of the analysts from the OPCW and elsewhere". It's easy enough for readers to check the source. I'm happy with its position at the top of the section though - it's probably what AMN is most known for. Batternut (talk) 16:14, 22 September 2017 (UTC)
Batternut, I think that wording works fine. I don't feel strongly about the position, although I feel it is better if sections start with general stuff and move on to specific stuff. BobFromBrockley (talk) 17:21, 22 September 2017 (UTC)
Again, the readded section is about Khan Sheykhun, and not Al Masdar. Further, if this were some summary of who agrees and who disagrees, this would be one-sided. It doesn't belong in this article (wrong topic), and even if it did, it is Cherry Picking by proxy. Jd2718 (talk) 19:15, 22 September 2017 (UTC)

Improve page[edit]

Hello everyone,

I have been following the Syrian war for quite some time. I was reading through some of these pages like Al-Masdar and SOHR and was hoping to improve them. I saw some issues with this page. For one, some things that were put under 'criticism' were not actually criticism. For example, citing a journalist describing an obviously pro-government news page as "pro-government" does not make it criticism, unless we want to subjectively conclude that being pro-government is bad.

I am open to working with people to improve the page. I have already read through a lot of the comments and hope to create a meaningful discussion.

Thanks! — Preceding unsigned comment added by VirgilBurns (talkcontribs) 22:47, 20 June 2018 (UTC)

Hi Virgil, welcome to Wikipedia. Having a non-neutral stance is definitely a criticism of content when you read it in context of the provided sources. Stickee (talk) 01:17, 21 June 2018 (UTC)
Hello, VirgilBurns. That's a 'ditto' from me in reference to Stickee's response. Please don't just remove reliable source content again based on just not liking it. Wikipedia is a neutral tertiary source, not a forum or blog where editors express their own opinions. Thanks for your attention. --Iryna Harpy (talk) 02:21, 21 June 2018 (UTC)

So why don't we add 'criticism' for all the Syria pages then? Surely, we should add this to SOHR, Syria Direct, and the other Mid-East pages. I am not trying to antagonize, I am trying to understand the logic behind this. The same goes for that sentence regarding their former editor. I am not sure how his removal from Al-Masdar is criticism. Perhaps criticism is not the word that should be used. VirgilBurns (talk) 21:10, 21 June 2018 (UTC)

Where criticism of any organization is significant and well-sourced, it can be added to those articles. The removal of Antonopoulos shows of Al-Masdar's response to the criticism, and provides an element of balance, so it makes sense to keep it nearby. Batternut (talk) 22:16, 21 June 2018 (UTC)

BLP balance re Fadel, use of La Información[edit]

BLP policy does apply in this article with regard to what we say about Fadel, and WP:BLPSTYLE advises us (under § Balance) that "criticism and praise should be included if they can be sourced to reliable secondary sources ...".

In order to provide an element of balance, would folks here support the use of a positive quote from Spanish newspaper La Información, along the lines of:

In contrast, Spanish newspaper La Información described Fadel as a reputable political analyst.

The source for this claim being:

El escenario, encima, puede tornarse más negro si se tiene en cuenta lo que presagia el reputado analista político Leith Fadel, que en su sitio web Al-Masdar News (una de las grandes fuentes de consulta de los observadores internacionales en relación a este conflicto) sostiene que ... The scenario, ultimately, may get bleaker if you consider what the reputable political analyst Leith Fadel predicts, who on his Al-Masdar News website (one of the great resources for international observers in relation to this conflict) argues that ...

— La Información, 13 September 2016

I had added this text last year, but it was removed on the grounds of giving "equal validity" can create a false balance, and the reliability of La Información was questioned in edit comments. Iryna Harpy did then start a discussion "Lainformacia.com as a reliable source" here (above), but it wasn't taken up at that time. La Información is used on this wiki over 100 times (en search), and on the Spanish wiki over 400 times (es search). FWIW the source seems to be run now by Marisa Navas Rodriguez, an ex Telefonica director. The source has not as yet been discussed at WP:RSN - I think that if serious problems existed there it would have come up by now. But what do others think - must it go through RSN? Batternut (talk) 12:31, 22 June 2018 (UTC)


"reputado" doesn't mean "reputable"; it means renowned, well-known. It's hard to see whether the source is reliable or not, as neither the author, Diego Caldentey, nor the periodical have an entry in Spanish Wikipedia, which suggests they are not notable. It looks like most of the times it is referenced in English Wikipedia are in articles on sports, and it is not referenced in any articles on the Middle East. BobFromBrockley (talk) 20:27, 22 June 2018 (UTC)

Criticism section[edit]

Hello,

I think the 'criticism' is incredibly unprofessional from a neutral point-of-view. Al-Masdar was well-known before the chemical weapons allegation and it was used as a source for the Syrian civil war. No other Syrian Civil War page has an entire section of 'criticism' dedicated to it at this length. I don't want to accuse anyone of bias, but this is not improving the page, it is only vandalizing it. I don't want to take this arbitration, but I was reading comments from the past and it appears that many of those making the edits have rejected anything positive to attribute to this page.

Most of the page itself is now criticism. There is no back story to the group and there is little substance to the page. — Preceding unsigned comment added by VirgilBurns (talkcontribs) 03:15, 25 June 2018 (UTC)

In order to improve the page, I created a few more sections. One of the sections concentrates on the Syrian Civil War. I split up 'criticism' and 'Khan Sheikhoun 2017' incident as well.

I am hoping to add to the Syrian Civil War section and create other sections like Yemen and Iraq, if anyone is willing to help, it would most appreciated. From their website, it appears they have pro-government bias in Iraq. I will discuss this with the other editors on this page before adding these sections. — Preceding unsigned comment added by VirgilBurns (talkcontribs) 03:56, 25 June 2018 (UTC)

From their website, it appears they have pro-government bias in Iraq. Just be aware, that sounds exactly like original research. We need to use reliable sources for information, and not publish our own analysis of AMN. Stickee (talk) 06:32, 25 June 2018 (UTC)

Well, I did make edits to the page and then they were reversed by a user named Volunteer Marek. There is no section regardng the Syrian Civil War. The reversal was not discussed here and no one got a chance to see it. I am trying to improve this page and other Syrian Civil War pages, but removing something I worked hard for the sake of not liking it is not productive.VirgilBurns (talk) 07:00, 25 June 2018 (UTC)

I would agree that some text noting the degree to which Al-Masdar has been used as a source could well help the balance. The problem lies in the difficultly finding WP:Reliable Sources that support such claims, and avoiding wikipedia policies around wp:Original Research and wp:Synthesis. Previous efforts at this, such as "Al-Masdar News has been quoted by Newsweek, The Washington Post, RT, The Independent and The Sun. Other news sites have quoted Al-Masdar News thousands of times." in this version were deemed by some to break such rules. There might exist reliable sources in other languages, particularly Arabic, that could be used, but I personally lack the skills to look for them. Batternut (talk) 08:03, 25 June 2018 (UTC)

Looking back, it seems that "Al-Masdar News has been quoted by Newsweek, The Washington Post, RT, The Independent and The Sun," was removed in this edit as "non-encyclopedic irrelevancy". I think achieving balance might give this claim relevance - Volunteer Marek could consider this. Batternut (talk) 08:10, 25 June 2018 (UTC)

Looking at some of the sources provided above by Danny, there seems to be plenty of references. The issue itself is editorial balance. Once again, no other Syrian Civil War page has an entire criticism section that overtakes the page. If we added criticism to Al-Masdar, why don't we do it for the others? Al-Masdar is criticized for being 'pro-government', but there is no section criticizing SOHR for being 'pro-rebel' or Syria Direct being funded by the U.S. State Department. I don't want to call out anyone specifically, but if you read through the votes for keeping Al-Masdar, there are several editors on this page that voted to delete the page. This creates a conflict of interest. VirgilBurns (talk) 14:53, 25 June 2018 (UTC)

I added new sections and improved the page, but my edits were removed and not discussed. I didn't delete anything, I just reorganized it so it would not be cluttered. I am asking for my edits to be restored or discussed. I don't want to get this arbitrated, but this is becoming ridiculous that I have to discuss edits, while others can just do as they please without any discussion. — Preceding unsigned comment added by VirgilBurns (talkcontribs) 14:44, 25 June 2018 (UTC)

You did actually remove The New York Times also accused Fadel of spreading unfounded misinformation about a victim of the Petra László incident, and It described al-Masdar News as "an unofficial government outlet" and said that it had "repeatedly attacked regime critics and witnesses to regime atrocities, notably the White Helmets. Batternut (talk) 15:19, 25 June 2018 (UTC)