‘Fake News’ crusader Maria Ressa uses Wikipedia as reference for ‘fake news’ accusations!

What possessed Rappler CEO Maria Ressa to post a link to an FHM Philippines article that then links to a Wikipedia article that exhibits a “List of Philippine Fake News Sites”? Everyone knows that Wikipedia is not a reliable source of “news”. Yet here is the self-appointed “thought leader” on all things digital, a crusader against “fake news” and the so-called “assault on press freedom” she imagines is being perpetrated by the Philippine government, building an entire blanket accusation against an entire community of publishers on the back of a Wikipedia “list”.

Ironic, right?

Challenged by her critics (which she all arbitrary labels “Duterte trolls”), Ressa digs herself deeper into the rabbit hole she wandered into and cited the “sources” referenced by the authors of the Wikpedia article — the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) and the Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility (CMFR). This proves further that Ressa, as she hinted in a response to her detractors, was not merely retweeting the FHM article, she actually stands by its message as well.

Full disclosure first. One of the sites included in the Wikipedia “List of Philippine Fake News Sites” is our very own satellite blog GRPundit which was the subject of a complaint we lodged a while back requesting that it be removed on grounds that it does not fit already widely-recognised definitions of what “fake news” is. The complaint also articulates the utter intellectual dishonesty in regarding the NUJP and CMFR as the final authorities on what is and what isn’t “fake news”.

It is interesting to note that Ressa — supposedly God’s Gift to Philippine journalism — did not do the right thing and take a statement from the stakeholders behind GetRealPhilippines.com first before unilaterally “reporting” that the Wikipedia “fake news” list and its propagators, corporate media sites like FHM, make valid assertions. Ressa knows where to find us. But she chooses not to get in touch with us for comment. That’s not very “journalistic” of her now, is it?

Stepping back even further, there really is no final authority per se on what is and what isn’t “fake news” to begin with. Attempts to institutionalise processes to judge the fakeness or authenticity of “news” are inherently problematic. Recently, a proposed “anti-fake news law” reportedly being proposed in the Malaysian parliament has come under heavy criticism as an attempt to “stifle free speech”.

The proposed Anti-Fake News Bill 2018 will give the [Malaysian] government sweeping powers to hit those it deems guilty of creating or spreading fake news with jail terms of up to six years and fines that could as high as $130,000.

It is expected to be easily passed next week as Najib’s ruling coalition has a majority in the country’s 222-seat parliament and is but the latest example of how the phrase championed by US President Donald Trump has been adopted and used by leaders across Asia.

We can see here that institutionalising processes to determine authenticity — or fakeness of information — is an inherently intractable proposition even for a national government. That Ressa would suggest that the NUJP and CMFR are similar such authorities is ludicrous and, quite frankly, intellectually dishonest. Indeed, as I argued in what turned out to be a futile complain lodged with Wikipedia “editors”…

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*.

Maria Ressa should stop being so fixated on a crusade against this mythical spectre of “fake news” she and her ilk in liberal “journalism” cooked up and, instead, focus on doing her job and doing it properly. The only way to beat “fake news” is to improve the quality of “mainstream news” reporting and earn back the trust of today’s readers. Skirting accountability for losing this trust by distracting people with fictitious narratives about “fake news” will not help Ressa’s cause. Only trust will, and by the way things are going, public trust is not something Ressa enjoys by the bucketloads nowadays.

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9 Comments on “‘Fake News’ crusader Maria Ressa uses Wikipedia as reference for ‘fake news’ accusations!”

    1. You’re the only person talking about censorship here. I did a search of this entire page and yours was the only instance of the word “censor” (that is, until my comment of course). Anyway, since you were trying to deviate from the topic, please do tell us where you are going with this.

      1. Who is to decide what is ‘fake news’ ? Do all media articles (which seem to include blog posts) have to be submitted to the Commission on Fake News prior to publication? Can they be published ,but if held to be ‘fake’, have to carry a health warning or be deleted?

        It seems to me that restricting what can be published is very close to, if not actual, censorship.

        1. Everyone has to be responsible for everything he/she posts. In the first place, one must know if his post is genuine or fake. There must be self-censorship in everything we posts. If what you posted was proved to be untrue, be responsible enough to retract and apologize.

      2. I think this “fake news” craze is a premature reaction to the effects of social media on society. Societies are still in the process of collectively getting a grip over the power social media makes available and the responsibilities such power entails. The spread of disinformation and the effects it had on politics are learning experiences that just need to be had. What is important is what is learned from these experiences and how societies then evolve and adapt to the reality that these technologies are here not just to stay but to get even more ingrained in our societies.

  1. Maria Reesa is Fake News, herself. Her Rappler.com online site of Fake News has gone bottom up. We cannot stop Fake News. The only good solution for the reader is to : think, discern and research , what is being published in the papers and on line. They have to use their common sense , also.
    Blaming people, Web sites, bloggers, and so called : journalists, will be of no help. This is the Age of Information Technology. Not all the information, that comes from the media and mainstream media are true. Some are false. Some are politically motivated. Some are placed there, to advance the agendas of self serving people.

    It is the readers’ choice to believe in the news or not. Nobody is forcing anybody to believe a news or not.

  2. Anti-Duterte mainstream media and bloggers most of the time are the ones crying “Fake news!” to articles launched by Pro-Duterte bloggers. As if they are the only source of genuine news, when it is actually the opposite. Anti-Duterte bloggers and mainstream media entities more likely are the ones spreading fake news, in desperate efforts to bring down the President, in the likes of ABS-CBN and Pinoy Ako Blog and many more LP-leaning personalities. I just don’t understand why can’t they see that what they are doing has negative effects to their side and the President is gaining more support from the Filipinos. Oh well, let them believe what they want to believe in. it’s their choice.

  3. “It is expected to be easily passed next week as Najib’s ruling coalition has a majority in the country’s 222-seat parliament and is but the latest example of how the phrase championed by US President Donald Trump has been adopted and used by leaders across Asia.”
    The revisionism is on full display now, it’s funny how when Trump used “Fake News” against the same corporate globalist media, they now apparently recreated history where they didn’t invent the term to attack and destroy the reputation and credibility of the opposition of their narratives, good job, when a pornstar’s statements against the US President is constantly revealed as “credible” and “national importance” they couldn’t dig a grave harder than that goblin faced CNN troll Ressa who was declared “Most Sexist Woman In the Philippines” who cites Wikipedia, an open “Encyclopedia” where anyone and his groups of pseudo-historians can choose which sources and citations are truth and fiction.

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