In the news
Google News Support, Wired editor plagiarizes Wikipedia, Rohde's kidnapping, Michael Jackson
Google News now includes Wikipedia as a source
As reported in earlier Signpost issues (June 15, June 8), Google News has been experimenting with links to Wikipedia articles about current events in its news results for various topics, such as the H1N1 Flu outbreak and the Iranian election protests. At first these links were only visible to a small percentage of readers.
Google spokesperson Gabriel Stricker has now confirmed that this addition has been made permanent on the English language editions of Google News, because the tests had indicated that "users were finding the Wikipedia pages to be helpful complements to so many stories they saw," adding that Wikipedia frequently offered "the broader overview on the topic." Half a year ago, Google News had already started to list Wikinews articles (see Signpost story).
Stricker did not explain how Google News chooses the Wikipedia articles to include, except by stating that these links are selected automatically: "An algorithm determines when Wikipedia topic pages are relevant to Google News clusters". 
Wikimedia Foundation spokesperson Jay Walsh (who, like other Wikipedians, had learned of this change from a third-party report) commented that "Google is recognizing that Wikipedia is becoming a source for very up-to-date information," although "it is an encyclopedia at the end of the day." Among the observers who had noted the strength of the English Wikipedia in summarizing current events is Sue Gardner. In an interview with the Signpost shortly after becoming the Wikimedia Foundation's Executive Director in 2007, the former director of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's web site described her positive impression of Wikipedia's coverage of the Virginia Tech massacre and the collaboration on that article as her initial motive for becoming more involved with Wikimedia.
Wired editor plagiarizes Wikipedia, apologizes
As reported in a NY Times blog post by Noam Cohen, Wired editor Chris Anderson has issued a "mea culpa" apology for copying passages from Wikipedia, without attribution, in his upcoming book Free: The Future of a Radical Price. A post by Waldo Jaquith on the Virginia Quarterly Review blog noted what had been copied—large parts of several Wikipedia articles appeared to have been reprinted in the text of the book with minimal changes and no citation or credit. The story was picked up by the LA Times blog and others. Both Anderson and his publisher Hyperion responded to Jaquith's post, and Anderson wrote a post on his own blog detailing the mistake and his proposed corrections.
Rohde's kidnapping—and edit wars
According to an article published in The New York Times on June 28 by Richard Pérez-Peña, "the New York Times managed to keep out of the news the fact that one of its reporters, David Rohde, had been kidnapped by the Taliban" for seven months, in an effort to prevent Rohde's value as a captive from rising and make it less likely that he would be killed. With difficulty, the Times also managed to keep this information from appearing in Wikipedia, with the help of Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia administrators and Times employees. The article details the editing process that occurred, including the work of Times employee Michael Moss, who worked to keep news of Rohde's kidnapping off Wikipedia, despite the best efforts of a few anonymous contributors. Moss stated in the article that "I knew from my jihad reporting that the captors would be very quick to get online and assess who he was and what he'd done, what his value to them might be." Rohde was captured on November 10, 2008, and made his escape on June 27, 2009, as reported by ABC and elsewhere.
The story of Wikipedia's omission has caused great debate in the media and among bloggers; the Christian Science Monitor blog asks "Was Wikipedia correct to censor news of David Rohde’s capture?" Debate has also continued on sites such as Slashdot.
Jackson's death rocks Wikipedia
A wide variety of sources reported on the edit wars and traffic surrounding the Wikipedia entry on Michael Jackson after his death on June 25, including the The Telegraph (which noted the edit war over whether Jackson was actually dead) and the San Francisco Chronicle blog, which also noted the effects of Jackson's death on other sites. Also see related News and Notes story.
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