Lying Propaganda-Ghoul Ari Fleischer Explains How Professional, Ethical Reporting Should Work
The Atlantic has a sort of yakkity-yakkity thing up online about how Professional Journalists handle material being on or off the record. The peg is that Rolling Stone story from—when was it, back in 2005?—that got that general who was running our success in Afghanistan dismissed for being insubordinate and for having drunk and mouthy aides. Professional Journalists are still bothered by these events because the irresponsible and non-staff-employed Rolling Stone reporter went and wrote up quotations and anecdotes that he witnessed happening, rather than negotiating with his sources to produce a polite and abridged and untrue version of things…
… which comes right after a post linking (via the Awl) James Bridle’s “On Wikipedia, Cultural Patrimony, and Historiography”:
… In a world obsessed with “facts”, a more nuanced comprehension of historical process would enable us to better weigh truth, whether it concerns the evidence for going to war, the proliferation of damaging conspiracy theories, the polarisation of debate on climate change, or so many other issues. This sounds utopian, and it is. But I do believe that we’re building systems that allow us to do this better, and one of our responsibilities should be to design and architect those systems to make this explicit, and to educate.
This particular book—or rather, set of books—is every edit made to a single Wikipedia article, The Iraq War, during the five years between the article’s inception in December 2004 and November 2009, a total of 12,000 changes and almost 7,000 pages.
It amounts to twelve volumes: the size of a single old-style encyclopaedia. It contains arguments over numbers, differences of opinion on relevance and political standpoints, and frequent moments when someone erases the whole thing and just writes “Saddam Hussein was a dickhead”.
This is historiography. This is what culture actually looks like: a process of argument, of dissenting and accreting opinion, of gradual and not always correct codification.
And for the first time in history, we’re building a system that, perhaps only for a brief time but certainly for the moment, is capable of recording every single one of those infinitely valuable pieces of information. Everything should have a history button.