The Wall Street Journal loses just a little credibility

November 16, 2006

So, when Andrew Lih discovered some amazing statistics about the exploding growth of the Chinese Wikipedia — a topical issue for him, since he’s researching a book on Wikipedia itself and currently living in the People’s Republic — we were all pretty excited about the implications. We thought that the news needed to get out, because people would love to hear about the exposion of information in China, and the population’s increasing access to it.

Apparently, CNet was just as excited. Correctly citing Andrew as their source, they presented that information to the world in a way that one man’s blog never could — people now know. Great!

But this news spreads, until eventually the Wall Street Journal caught on. They, too, discovered the story and cited many of the exact same facts originally posted in Andrew’s blog, namely:

  • That zh: was getting 3-400 new registrants per day, but suddenly jumped to over 1,200. The exact same numbers were used in the Journal, for the same time period, as in Andrew’s post.
  • That 75% more articles were added in this week than the week before. Same numbers, same time period.
  • Zh: passed 100,000 articles this weekend, also cited in the Wall Street Journal.

What did they neglect to include, then? Their source!

With as many points of similarity as are apparent enough, all drawn from a small blog post in which they made up the bulk of the content, it’s extremely clear that the Journal haas simply chosen not to tell us where their information as derived from. Slashdot made the same mistake.

So, not only did bloggers prove themselves more capable of delivering news quickly, but the Journal proved itself incapable citing those very same bloggers. Awesome.

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