On Ethics

The Wikipedia Blackout and the 'Scabs' at NPR

Wikipedia's blackout.
Wikipedia.org

NPR online readers passionate about the current debate over intellectual legislation in Congress were Wednesday slightly put off—well, for some, that would be an understatement. They were upset by what they perceived to be insufficient or slanted coverage of the online blackout protesting the two pieces of legislation, known as SOPA and PIPA.

Proponents of the House bill, the Stop Online Piracy Act, and its counterpart in the Senate, the Protect Intellectual Property Act, introduced the legislation with the aim of curbing online copyright infringement. Opponents argue the two bills are too far-reaching in their regulation of the Internet and threaten free speech.

One NPR post, in particular, from NPR's Two-Way blog caused some uproar. Featured in the post was insight on how to sidestep Wikipedia's day of protest January 18 against the bills.

Several readers were outraged, claiming NPR was "trivializing" the widespread online blackout and effectively "undercutting" Wikipedia's efforts by publishing a way to access the free encyclopedia's site during the day of protest. One characterized NPR as acting "like a scab in a labor dispute."

The point is an interesting one, but moot since Wikipedia published instructions on its English-language site to how to get around the blackout. Two-Way even quoted Wikipedia's published statement: "Our purpose here isn't to make it completely impossible for people to read Wikipedia, and it's okay for you to circumvent the blackout. We just want to make sure you see our message."

The reporting, moreover, was informative and of great interest to the millions of people who visit Wikipedia each day.

NPR reporters and editors offered a full smorgasbord of stories both on-air and online on the blackout that day:

Wikipedia Goes Dark To Protest Anti-Piracy Bills

Websites Shut Down To Protest Anti-Piracy Bills

Q&A: Congress, SOPA And A Fight Over The Web

Internet Blackout Puts Washington Online Piracy Fight In Limelight

So, What Did We Learn After A Day Without Wikipedia?

Are There Workarounds For Wikipedia's Blackout?


Stephannie Stokes contributed to this post.


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Can Too Much Campaign Coverage Cause Heartbreak?
Santorum, Race and the Limits of Journalistic Fairness

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