A certain Carlos Nazareno (who tweets as @object404) has been revealed to be the person behind a list of Filipino “fake news sites” posted on a controlled page in Wikipedia. The Philippine list rests on the dubious authority of several organisations that are actively campaigning against “fake news”, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), and the Center of Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR).
The list originally included Get Real Post which was removed after we lodged a request for its removal via its Talk Page several months ago. Prior to that, I had already written an article that cited the intellectually-dishonest manner with which the CBCP had released its “list of fake news sites”. Nazareno had recently confirmed that he was the one who implemented its removal.
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What makes the NUJP [an] authority on “fake news”? They use the term loosely and apply it to GRPundit. But accepted definitions of fake news, say from the Collins Dictionary which [defines “fake news” as] “false, often sensational, information disseminated under the guise of news reporting” are very clear. GRPundit is an opinion blog that does not pretend to be a news site. You cannot siumply “lean toward” a judgment on GRPundit when (1) there is no compelling evidence and (2) the site itself does not fall within the accepted definition of “fake news”.
The above was deemed an unacceptable appeal by two Wikipedia “editors” who chimed in, Eggishorn and DrFleischman. Nazareno added in his two cents pretty much summing up these two editors’ retreat into an appeal to authority by asserting that “The NUJP and CMFR are legitimate and reputable journalistic organizations in the Philippines.” To this, I responded further…
The NUJP or National Union of Journalists of the Philippines is a *trade union* of journalists and, as such, does not necessarily represent the industry — only its employees and professional practitioners. There are other professional bodies in the Philippines such as the National Press Club (NPC). The NUJP is also known to be a left-leaning organization and, therefore, is not necessarily representative of the broader community of journalists [in the Philippines]. An important point to make too is whether or not they have jurisdiction over judging the nature of a blog site such as GRPundit. Even if they were, as you postulate, a “reputable” organization of professional journalists, they would wield authority over the practice of journalism but not necessarily over blogging. For that matter, as I pointed out earlier, the emerging definition of “fake news” (the term already being problematic as it is) does not cover blogs in general but is specific about publishers who/that *pretend to be news sites*.
You should also consider the conflict of interest involved here. The profession/industry [of journalism and news media respectively] is currently suffering a crisis of relevance across the board and many media companies are struggling to remain profitable. As such, their attempts to put blogging and other alternative forms of media based in the Internet [under a bad light] is suspect as these alternative entities are, in essence, *competitors* of traditional organisations in a struggling industry. I’d like to request that you consider that the nature of what motivates traditional media firms to mount this so-called “fake news” campaign practically in concert could possibly be seen as a form of collusion against an emerging competing community. Granted that some members of this community abuse the new platform (and, as such, gave rise to the notion of “fake news”) you will need to consider too, for the sake of fairness, that there are also abusive elements in the established traditional news media industry.
I wrote further…
You might also want to consider your reliance on consensus (appeal to popularity) and on “authoritative” references (appeal to authority). Both are logical fallacies though, perhaps, logic as you point out does not apply in Wikipedia and is trumped by both of these. Journalists, last I heard, don’t write something [as] truth just because someone said so (even someone perceived to be in a position/role of authority).
What follows is an interesting response which I’d describe as astounding if not for the evidently adolescent character increasingly revealed by these so-called “editors” (I marked in boldface for emphasis a noteoworthy passage)…
@BenIgnZero:, we explicitly rely on WP:CONSENSUS and use of authoritative sources as parts of our Core Content Policies. Calling these policies logical fallacies impresses no-one and shows a lack of understanding that your sophist arguments do not “trump” policy. It also shows that you should read this which says, in a nutshell, that the project doesn’t care about “The Truth”TM but about what can be substantiated through sources. Eggishorn (talk) (contrib) 02:56, 14 February 2018 (UTC)
BenIgnZero, if you’re not interested in making arguments based on our community standards then can you please leave the discussion to editors who are? —Dr. Fleischman (talk) 03:04, 14 February 2018 (UTC)
…basically the editors standing by their preference to appeal to authority as a basis for judging validity.
Ironically, Nazareno, writing in his Wikipedia user profile page Object404, himself implies that a boys’ club of editors who are not necessarily experts on the subject of the articles they presume to edit or administer governance over lord over this venerable collaboration project like “a group of self-congratulating 13 year old delete-happy administrators”….
One of the Catch-22 problems causing this is that there are not enough volunteer contributors to Wikipedia and in the current system, it is the people who have contributed the most edits who have more authority and administrative power and not necessarily subject-matter experts like venerable MIT professor emeriti with PhDs and decades of experience. One of the unfortunate side effects of this, is that a lot of times, it is precisely these people that are very needed who are driven away due the occasionally abrasive behavior of some old-time Wikipedia users.
Indeed, amongst the three “editors” who evaluated our request, only Eggishorn hints at being a “professional journalist” in his user profile page. Nazareno, for his part, describes himself thus…
I am an on-and-off again contributor to Wikipedia articles, focused mostly on software, game development, art, martial arts and subjects pertaining to the Philippines. I wholeheartedly believe in its mission, vision but every now and then, I have to take long breaks from editing Wikipedia articles due to burnout, usually from interacting with other editors who are “Deletionists” (as opposed to inclusionists) which stem from the fact that a number of subjects I contribute to are not widely documented in scholarly material, or that sometimes, even “scholarly” material (like books, magazines and other publications) contain inaccurate information.
…basically someone who, himself, does not know much about the subject of “fake news” but, nonetheless, took it upon himself to propagate what is essentially dubious hearsay information which was then readily lapped up and upheld by “editors” who defer to their quaint “community standards” and codified rules that they follow like automatons.
The story in the above last paragraph sounds familiar, doesn’t it? That is because it is a story of precisely how disinformation is spread, to begin with — a microcosm of the current “fake news” hysteria gripping the broader Philippine political discourse. Ironic, considering the main characters in this story presume to be “editors” of a Wikipedia page on “fake news”.
[Update, 16 Feb 2018: We’ve added an About Page to GRPundit and have re-opened the request on the Talk Page of the Wikipedia article “List of fake news websites” to notify the editors of this development.]
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.