The most classic part of this whole Wikipedia-Ken Lay-Reuters story (as described here and here) is the fact that the original Reuters story, which said Lay’s death “underscored the challenges facing online encyclopaedia Wikipedia,” contained a major error. As posted on the story:
Ken Lay’s death prompts confusion on Wikipedia
NEW YORK (Reuters) – The death of former Enron Corp. chief Ken Lay on Wednesday underscored the challenges facing online encyclopaedia Wikipedia (http://www.wikipedia.org/), which as the news was breaking offered a variety of causes for his death.
Lay, 64, died of an apparent heart attack, according to a pastor at the Lay family’s church in Houston. It was six weeks after a jury found him guilty of fraud in one of the biggest corporate scandals in U.S. history. A family spokeswoman said that Lay passed away early on Wednesday morning in Aspen.
Now that’s all fine and dandy, but it seems like Ken Lay’s death prompted confusion at Reuters, also. Here’s the correction:
Corrects and recasts paragraph two to show that a spokeswoman for the Lay family did not give the cause of Lay’s death. It was given by another source.
So Wikipedia can get confused because inital reports were varied about the cause of Lay’s death, but Reuters can’t even identify who gave them the information they used in their report?
And journalism has sunk to a new low.