Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Stuff that makes you say, ‘Dang’

Attribution on Wikipedia is a sometime thing. Sometimes you know people are doing a ROMA entry, with no regard for fact or accuracy, but only to get an opinion on the World-Wide Web.

(If you look up “ROMA,” almost all listings will give a definition concerning “Roma people,” i.e., commonly known as Gypsies. The ROMA here means “Right out of my a$$.” You can see from that meaning that accuracy is of no consideration.)

Here is an example of Wikipedia ROMA, from the entry on the town of Vian, Oklahoma:

“In May 2017, the city government of Vian was put on the national stage due to alleged corruption. A city police officer pulled over city councilman E. O. Smith's son, Joshua Smith, and discovered he was driving on a suspended license, a repeat offense. After performing an arrest, the officer was allegedly threatened with termination by City Attorney Larry Vickers. Mayor Dennis Fletcher ordered Smith's release. The officer and police chief resigned in protest and were both replaced. In 2018 Smith was charged with unlawfully using a cell phone to facilitate methamphetamine transactions, then charged with child sexual assault and continues to be protected by the local corrupt good 'ol boy system as he refuses to show up for his trial.

I read that, and I said, “Dang.” Just like at a Paris, Texas, newspaper where I worked for four years, in 1997 reading year-old stories about the shooting death of a Red River County Commissioner. In one story, a reporter wrote that the county sheriff “had been mentioned as a suspect” by some people. There was no attribution. When I read the statement, I said, aloud in the newsroom, “You can’t say that.” But the reporter did write that, and editors let it into the newspaper. Bad reporting. Bad.

The Vian, Oklahoma, entry did have two footnotes listed. One footnote references a newspaper page that does not exist.

Some searching will lead to stories giving the idea that Vian city government is not quite on the up-and-up, especially when it comes to council members protecting relatives. Still, accuracy and references are required for honesty.

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