To trust or not to trust Wikipedia

By Steve Outing

I was reading Howard Owens’ latest post and noticed that in the first paragraph he links to a Wikipedia entry in order to explain MBOs (management by objective).

It’s normal for bloggers to provide links to Wikipedia; I do it frequently, too — usually as a shortcut to defining a term or describing something.

But isn’t it interesting that mainstream news organizations seldom link to the “people’s encyclopedia.” I think that says a lot about the difference between old and new media.

It explains much about why mainstream media struggle with a new world where everyone can have a voice. Many mainstream news organizations still resist linking to outside sources at all (though that problem seems to be waning), and they remain largely unwilling to trust “unvetted” sources like Wikipedia. (Of course, many of us would say that the massive Wikipedia contributor community is doing the vetting of information.)

Sure, Wikipedia has its problems. But I think news organizations can and should acknowledge Wikipedia’s power in the Internet community by linking to it. There’s always the option of inserting a note of caution when linking, describing how Wikipedia is a public-driven resource and its information may not be perfect.

Are there examples of mainstream news organizations routinely linking to Wikipedia which would refute my (admittedly generalized) observation?

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!