Forbidden to use Wikipedia and Facebook as sources

Agence France Presse (AFP) has banned journalist from using Facebook and Wikipedia as sources. Here is what the agency’s London bureau chief told a Lord’s Committee Wednesday:

“Pierre Lesourd said that internal rules that governed the entire organisation prevented journalists from relying on many new ‘virtual’ sources for news. ‘We have internal rules that are regularly updated [on this matter]. Wikipedia for example, we have a written rule inside the company that forbids any journalist using Wikipedia,’ he said.”

He further clarifies and modifies himself by saying “reporters working for the international agency could not pick up information from these sites for news without referring to other, more reliable sources for factual clarification.”

This is interesting. I agree that you should doublecheck info from these kind of sources, especially Facebook, which is full of fake profiles. We also know that everyone can edit Wikipedia, so critical reading is obligatory. But that is something different from a total ban, which is beyond my understanding.

AFP are apparently not the only sceptics. Some professors at University of Brighton want to ban their students to use Google and Wikipedia. The professor, Tara Brabazon, says: “I want students to sit down and read. It’s not the same when you read it online. I want them to experience the pages and the print as much as the digitisation and the pixels. Both are fine but I want them to have both, not one or the other, not a cheap solution.”

Has this woman heard of Kindle? Don’t tell her.

Update: A couple of articles with Facebook advice for journalists, from Norwegian Journalisten and the Telegraph.

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