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Celebrity plastic surgeon Dr. Frank Ryan dies in car accident aged 50
September 18, 2019 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Plastic surgeon to the stars Dr. Frank Ryan has died in a car accident at age 50. It is reported that the Jeep Ryan was driving crashed over the side of the Pacific Coast Highway and landed on rocks. Lifeguards were first on the scene and unsuccessfully tried to rescue Ryan. It is thought that no other vehicle was involved in the incident.

Dr. Ryan, a celebrity in his own right, performed plastic surgery on several stars including Janice Dickinson, Gene Simmons, Shauna Sand and Adrianne Curry. He appeared on several television shows and became one of the first people to perform plastic surgery on television in 1995.

A representative for Janice Dickinson released a statement about the death of Ryan. She said “Janice is deeply, deeply anguished! She is stunned and wants the world to know what a genius Dr. Ryan was.”

Ryan was traveling with his pet dog at the time of the crash; the dog was found seriously injured in the ocean and was transported to a local veterinarian. Dr. Ryan was pronounced dead at the scene.

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FDA issues proposed rules requiring calorie content on menus
September 7, 2019 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued proposed calorie labeling rules requiring most retail food vendors to display the calorie counts in items on their menus and menu boards. The proposed rules, issued Friday and expected to be finalized in 2012, would apply to most restaurants, snack bars, vending machines, coffee shops, drive-through restaurants, and convenience and grocery stores.

The US Congress required the rules in the health-care reform law passed in 2010. The rules proposed by the FDA must undergo a public comment period before they are finalized and take effect, said Michael R. Taylor, Deputy Director for Foods at the FDA.

The proposed regulations pertain to businesses devoting more than 50 percent of their floor space to the sale of food or that consider themselves restaurants, specifically food-selling chains with at least 20 stores nationally. Included are candy stores, bakeries, and ice-cream parlors.

The FDA’s proposed guidelines specify that chains post the calorie counts of foods and drinks on menus and menu boards or next to the food item, such as at a salad bar. The menu is to prominently exhibit the calorie content of each item in a way customers can see easily, giving them the same information packaged foods prepared at home currently provide. The information must be displayed in “clear and conspicuous” print and colors.

Giving consumers clear nutritional information makes it easier for them to choose healthier options that can help fight obesity and make us all healthier.

Many cities and states have passed laws requiring calorie labeling on menus, beginning with New York City in 2008. California implemented a similar law in January, although many counties are waiting for the release of the federal guidelines before they begin enforcement. Some fast-food chains there, such as McDonald’s and Starbucks, are displaying calorie counts on menus in some of their stores.

The rules are intended to curb the national obesity epidemic since, according to FDA estimates, one third of the calories people consume yearly come from food eaten out. In a statement issued yesterday, Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services said, “Giving consumers clear nutritional information makes it easier for them to choose healthier options that can help fight obesity and make us all healthier.”

Excluded from the rules are businesses whose primary product is not food sales but that sell it, such as bowling alleys, airports and airplanes, amusement parks, hotels and movie theaters. Alcohol is also excluded.

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Category:Iain Macdonald (Wikinewsie)/Aviation
September 7, 2019 · Uncategorized · (No comments)
Aviation articles by Wikinewsie Iain Macdonald.
  • Germany bans Mahan Air of Iran, citing ‘security’
  • Lion Air disaster: Crashed jet’s voice recorder recovered from Java Sea
  • Iranian cargo plane crashes into Karaj houses
  • Police warn new drone owners to obey law after disruption at UK’s Gatwick Airport
  • Rescue helicopter crash kills six in Abruzzo, Italy
  • UK Civil Aviation Authority issues update on Shoreham crash response
  • Nigerian jet attacks refugee camp, killing dozens
  • Fighter jet crashes during Children’s Day airshow in Thailand
  • Plane carrying 92 crashes into Black Sea near Sochi
  • Hijackers divert Libyan passenger jet to Malta
  • Pakistan International Airlines sacrifices goat, resumes ATR flights
  • Judge rules Air Canada Flight 624 victims can sue Transport Canada
  • PIA flight crashes near Havelian, Pakistan
  • Indonesian police plane crashes near Batam, fifteen missing
  • Investigators blame pilot error for AirAsia crash into Java Sea
  • New Polish government takes down findings on Russian air disaster
  • Pakistani female fighter pilot Marium Mukhtiar dies in jet crash
  • Investigators blame pilot error for deadly jet crash near Boston
  • Airshow collision kills one in Dittingen, Switzerland
  • Vintage plane crashes into road during Shoreham Airshow in England
  • Planes carrying parachutists collide, crash in Slovakia
  • Indian army helicopter crash kills two in Jammu and Kashmir
  • Divers retrieve 100th corpse from Java Sea jet crash
  • Taipei plane crash toll reaches 40
  • AirAsia disaster: Bodies, wreckage found
  • AirAsia jet vanishes over Indonesia, 162 missing
  • Inquiry finds proper maintenance might have prevented 2009 North Sea helicopter disaster
  • Ryanair sue Associated Newspapers, Mirror Group
  • Ryanair sack, sue pilot over participation in safety documentary
  • Ryanair threaten legal action after documentary on fuel policy, safety
  • US Marine Corps blame deadly Morocco Osprey plane crash on pilots
  • Kenyan helicopter crash kills security minister
  • Indonesians retrieve missing recorder from crashed Russian jet
  • Report blames New Zealand skydive plane crash that killed nine on overloading
  • Russian passenger jet crashes on Indonesian demonstration flight
  • European Commission clears British Airways owner IAG to buy bmi from Lufthansa
  • US Air Force upgrades F-22 oxygen system after deadly crash
  • Cypriot court clears all of wrongdoing in Greek air disaster
  • Boeing rolls out first 787 Dreamliner to go into service
  • Air France, pilots union, victims group criticise transatlantic disaster probe
  • South Korean troops mistakenly attack passenger jet
  • 27 believed dead in Indonesian plane crash
  • Russian police say Moscow airport bomber identified
  • ‘Unacceptable’ and ‘without foundation’: Poland rejects Russian air crash report
  • Serb pilots defend colleague in Air India Express disaster
  • Investigation into US Airways river ditching in New York completed
  • Reports issued after jets collided twice in same spot at UK airport
  • Final report blames London passenger jet crash on ice
  • Concorde crash trial begins
  • Iranian air politician blames pilot error for yesterday’s jet crash
  • US charges homeless man after plane stolen and crashed in Maryland
  • German jet bound for US searched in Iceland after suitcase loaded without owner
  • Mexican helicopter crash leaves soldier dead
  • Indonesian court overturns Garuda pilot’s conviction over air disaster
  • Zimbabwean cargo plane crashes in Shanghai; three dead
  • Italian Air Force transport wreck kills five
  • UK lawyer comments on court case against Boeing over London jet crash
  • Victims of London jetliner crash sue Boeing
  • Family seeks prosecution over loss of UK Nimrod jet in Afghanistan
  • British Airways and Iberia agree to merge
  • At least nine missing after Russian military plane crashes into Pacific
  • Search continues for nine missing after midair collision off California
  • Russian military cargo jet crash kills eleven in Siberia
  • Nine missing after US Coast Guard plane and Navy helicopter collide
  • Jet flies 150 miles past destination in US; pilots say they were distracted
  • Airliner crash wounds four in Durban, South Africa
  • Cypriot court begins Greek air disaster trial
  • Japan blames design, maintenance for explosion on China Airlines jet
  • Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi released on compassionate grounds
  • Lockerbie bombing appeal dropped
  • Australian receives bravery award for rescues in Indonesian air disaster
  • Fighter jets collide, crash into houses near Moscow
  • Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi moves to drop Lockerbie bombing appeal
  • Iranian passenger jet’s wheel catches fire
  • Tourist plane crash in Papua New Guinea leaves thirteen dead
  • UK’s BAA forced to sell three airports
  • Scotland denies bail to terminally ill man convicted of Lockerbie bombing
  • Pilot error blamed for July crash of Aria Air Flight 1525 in Iran
  • Plane carrying sixteen people vanishes over Papua, Indonesia
  • Airbus offers funding to search for black boxes from Air France disaster
  • 20 years on: Sioux City, Iowa remembers crash landing that killed 111
  • Two separate fighter jet crashes kill two, injure two in Afghanistan
  • Helicopter crash kills sixteen at NATO base in Afghanistan
  • U.S. investigators probe in-flight hole in passenger jet
  • Four Indonesian airlines allowed back into Europe; Zambia, Kazakhstan banned
  • Brazil ceases hunt for bodies from Air France crash
  • Airliner catches fire at Indonesian airport
  • Garuda Indonesia increases flights, fleet; may buy rival
  • False dawn for Air France flight; debris not from crash, search continues
  • US investigators probe close call on North Carolina runway
  • Spanish general, two other officials jailed for false IDs after air disaster
  • Indonesian court jails Garuda pilot over air disaster
  • Pilots in 16-death crash jailed for praying instead of flying
  • New Zealand pilots receive bravery awards for foiling airliner hijack
  • US, UK investigators seek 777 engine redesign to stop repeat of London jet crash
  • Schiphol airliner crash blamed on altimeter failure, pilot error
  • Marine jet crash into San Diego house attributed to string of errors
  • Fatal US Army helicopter collision in Iraq blamed on enemy fire
  • Brazil’s Embraer plans to cut around 4,200 jobs
  • Virgin Atlantic jet fire investigation finds faulty wiring in A340 fleet
  • Six indicted over jet crash at New Jersey’s Teterboro Airport
  • Man arrested in India after mid-air hijack threat on domestic flight
  • British Airways plans to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 50% by 2050
  • US Airways jet recovered from Hudson River
  • Mount Everest plane crash blamed on pilot error
  • Cyprus charges five over 2005 air crash that killed 121
  • 20 years on: Lockerbie victims’ group head talks to Wikinews
  • US, UK investigators collaborating after US 777 incident similar to London crash
  • Brazil blames human error for 2006 midair airliner collision
  • NTSB continues investigation of near-collision in Pennsylvania, United States
  • Turbulence likely cause of Mexico jet crash that killed ministers
  • Bomb ruled out in Mexico plane crash that killed twelve
  • Afghan president Hamid Karzai opens new terminal at Kabul International Airport
  • Cyprus to charge five over 2005 plane crash that killed 121
  • India’s Jet Airways posts biggest quarterly loss in three years
  • Indian aviation sector hit by financial trouble; domestic traffic at five-year low
  • Spanish airline LTE suspends all flights
  • Spanair mechanics to be questioned under criminal suspicion over Flight 5022 crash
  • Oscar Diös tells Wikinews about his hostel within a Boeing 747
  • Preliminary report released on Spanair disaster that killed 154
  • Dozens injured by sudden change in altitude on Qantas jet
  • Soldier dies as military helicopters collide in Iraq
  • No evidence of engine fire at Aeroflot-Nord Flight 821 crash site
  • Indonesian parliament approves privatising of three major state firms
  • Controversy after leak of preliminary report into Spanair disaster
  • Researcher claims unmarked grave contains 1950 Lake Michigan plane crash victims
  • Interim report blames ice for British Airways 777 crash in London
  • Service held in Nova Scotia on tenth anniversary of Swissair crash that killed 229
  • UK government sued over deaths in 2006 Nimrod crash in Afghanistan
  • Four British Airways executives charged with price fixing
  • Unprecedented review to be held on Qantas after third emergency in two weeks
  • British Airways enters merger talks with Iberia
  • EU maintains ban on Indonesian airlines amid accusations of political motivation
  • US military confirms three deaths after B-52 crash off Guam
  • Garuda Indonesia Flight 200’s pilot’s trial to begin this week
  • One-Two-Go Airlines cease operating over fuel costs as legal action begins over September air disaster
  • Search underway after US B-52 bomber crashes off Guam’s coast
  • US FAA to make airliner fuel tank inertion mandatory over 1996 air disaster
  • Chanchangi Airlines 737 crashes on landing in Nigeria
  • British Airways give medals to Flight 38’s crew
  • Captain killed as DC-9 cargo jet crashes onto Mexican highway
  • Threat received before Boeing 767 fire at San Francisco
  • Honduran capital’s main airport reopens six weeks after jetliner crash
  • Death toll in Arizona helicopter collision at seven as only survivor dies
  • Continental Airlines to face charges over Air France Concorde disaster
  • Nine oil workers die as helicopter crashes in Siberia
  • Boeing 767 cargo plane seriously damaged by fire at San Francisco
  • Cargo plane crashes near Khartoum; at least four dead
  • Cargo plane crash in Sudan leaves seven dead with one survivor
  • Air safety group says airport was operating illegally without license when Garuda Indonesia Flight 200 crashed
  • Sudan Airways grounded
  • Peacekeeping helicopter crash kills four in Bosnia
  • Report finds LOT Airlines plane was lost over London due to pilot error
  • Indonesian police hand over Garuda Indonesia Flight 200 report to prosecutors
  • US B-2 bomber crash in Guam caused by moisture on sensors
  • Helicopter carrying quake survivors crashes in China
  • Silverjet ceases operations and enters administration
  • Nine killed as Russian cargo plane crashes in Siberia
  • Boeing 747 cargo plane breaks in two after failed takeoff at Brussels Airport
  • Boeing pushes back 737 replacement development
  • Israel scrambles fighters to intercept unresponsive aircraft carrying Tony Blair
  • Airliner hijacker found working for British Airways
  • Finnair negotiating possible partnership with major Indian airlines
  • Five of six accused over 9/11 to be tried; charges against ’20th hijacker’ dropped
  • British Airways Flight 38 suffered low fuel pressure; investigation continues
  • Ex-head of Qantas freight operations in US jailed for price fixing
  • Search for Brazilian plane with four UK passengers called off after seven days
  • Floating wreckage of Brazilian plane carrying four UK businessmen recovered
  • Rescuers hunt Brazilian plane carrying four UK passengers
  • Southern Sudan’s defence minister among those killed in major plane crash
  • Spectator killed and 10 injured in German airshow crash
  • 11 killed in Mexican military helicopter crash
  • Japan Airlines fined US$110 million for price fixing
  • Indonesia angered as nation’s airlines all remain banned in EU airspace
  • All confirmed dead on Kata Air An-32, Moldova asks for Russian investigatory help
  • Airbus parent EADS wins £13 billion UK RAF airtanker contract
  • Ryanair executives pay frozen over increased fuel prices
  • Final report blames instrument failure for Adam Air Flight 574 disaster
  • Israel to install missile defense systems on airliners
  • Pilot killed as Su-25 military jet explodes near Vladivostok
  • Indonesia grounds Adam Air; may be permanently shut down in three months
  • Adam Air hits severe financial problems; may be shut down in three weeks
  • Alitalia conditionally accepts joint bid by Air France and KLM
  • One year on: IFALPA’s representative to ICAO, pilot and lawyer on ongoing prosecution of Garuda Indonesia Flight 200 pilot
  • Adam Air may be shut down after string of accidents
  • Five injured as Adam Air 737 overruns Batam island runway
  • Northrop Grumman and Airbus parent EADS defeat Boeing for $40 billion US airtanker contract
  • Garuda Indonesia Flight 200 pilot forced to resign
  • Garuda Indonesia Flight 200 pilot released on bail
  • Concern as Garuda Indonesia Flight 200 pilot arrested and charged
  • No fatalities as Boeing 727 crash lands in Bolivia
  • British Airways Flight 38 investigation focuses on fuel system
  • 16-year-old arrested over alleged plot to hijack US airliner
  • Adam Aircraft suspends activities at Utah factory, lays off 300 workers amid financial difficulties
  • Plane crash kills ten in Angola
  • Delta Air Lines may enter merge talks with Northwest or United Airlines
  • Alaskan plane crash survivors say cargo door swung open
  • Six die in Alaskan plane crash
  • Transaven Airlines plane carrying up to 18 people still missing off Venezuelan coast
  • 2007 was particularly good year for aviation safety
This Category ‘sub-page’ will display up to 500 articles which one of the project’s contributors has written on a specific topic.

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Birks to create 2010 Olympic, Paralympic jewelery; wines on menu

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Birks to create 2010 Olympic, Paralympic jewelery; wines on menu
September 3, 2019 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Birks was recently announced as the “Official Supplier of Jewelery” for the 2010 Vancouver-Whistler Olympics. The company will create licensed products with the logos of the 2010 Olympic Games, 2010 Paralympic Games, and the Canadian Olympic team emblem, including necklaces, earrings, pendants and rings.

The partnership was announced at an employee celebration in Vancouver, to mark the centenary of Mayors Jewelers Inc., an American company Birks acquired in 2002.

The six-year sponsorship includes the rights to the Canadian Olympic team logo during the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympic Games.

Thomas A. Andruskevich, president and CEO, Birks & Mayors stated in a press release:

We are extremely proud to take part in this journey that honors our best athletes and celebrates excellence as the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games shine on the world wide stage. Canadians look to Birks to mark the most important celebrations in their lives which is why Birks wants to commemorate this important moment in Canadian history.

The products will be launched in early 2008.

Also released today is information that Jackson-Triggs Esprit will be a special line of wines, created to celebrate the athletic event. The Vincor Canada wine is named in relevance to “spirit”, both the spirit of the Olympians, and alcoholic beverage usage of the word.

President and CEO of Vincor Canada Jay Wright said, “We are thrilled to have this opportunity to honor our Canadian athletes while affirming our role as Canada’s wine industry leader. Like our Olympic and Paralympic athletes, Vincor Canada shares a passion and determination towards excellence. This agreement is by far Vincor Canada’s most ambitious and broad-reaching sponsorship and will be great for the Canadian wine industry. I hope Canada will join us in the excitement that we feel regarding this exceptional opportunity to position Canadian wine brands on the world stage.”

The wines, featuring Olympic logo, will be distributed to liquor stores and restaurants across the country this summer. Proceeds from each bottle will go towards the Canadian Olympic Team.

Both the Chardonnay and Merlot will retail for CDN$11.95 MSRP. Inniskillin Wines’ vineyards, harvested since 1975, in either the Niagara Peninsula in Ontario pr the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia will create the wine.

Within the past few weeks, the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) has announced a Omega-brand countdown clock that will tour British Columbia events, as the company is the “Official Olympic Timekeeper”. Canadian Pacific was named official rail freight services provider, and the Royal Canadian Mint announced they will create circulation and collector coins to mark the occasion.

There are 1099 days until the XXI Olympiad, according to the official website of the event.

Somali piracy: Kenyan navy kills three, Chinese ship hijacked, British couple freed

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Somali piracy: Kenyan navy kills three, Chinese ship hijacked, British couple freed
August 24, 2019 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Three pirates were killed late Friday during a presumed attack in error, while other pirates successfully hijacked the Yuan Xiang, a Panamanian-flagged vessel with an all-Chinese crew, and a media embargo was lifted regarding the release of a British couple whose yacht was seized more than a year ago over the weekend.

At 11 p.m. on Friday a Kenyan patrol vessel was near Kilifi in Kenyan coastal waters “when four suspected Somali pirates on board a speed boat climbed the vessel, mistaking it for a merchant vessel,” according to Kenyan Defence Department spokesman Bogita Ongeri. He said three were shot dead but the fourth “dived into the sea with bullet wounds during the scuffle,” and is thought to have died. The speed boat with more pirates on board fled, the three bodies were taken to Coast General Hospital, Mombassa.

Ongeri promised more details after discussions with the vessel’s captain adding, “[t]he government will not relent in its fight against piracy.” Kenya, along with the Seychelles, performs international prosecutions of pirates, but convictions are rarely secured; 26 suspects were freed last week by Kenya owing to lack of evidence or jurisdiction.

Andrew Mwangura of the Seafarers’ Assistance Program said Saturday, “I can confirm the pirates hijacked Yuan Xiang on Friday at midnight Kenyan time in the Arabian Sea near India. The vessel has 29 Chinese crew.” The Yuan Xiang was sailing outside the zone covered by a multinational task force combating piracy. Reports suggest its captors are heading to Somalia.

Retired British couple Paul and Rachel Chandler were released after their yacht Lynn Rival was captured near the Seychelles en-route to Tanzania 388 days ago, in October 2009. An injunction prevented reporting the release until 56-year-old Rachel and 60-year-old Paul, from Kent, were out of Somalia.

“Men with guns came aboard,” Paul told ITV News over the phone a week after their capture. “Then we were forced to sail … toward Somalia.” The seizure was witnessed by UK refueling ship RFA Wave Knight but they were not helped for fear their lives would be endangered. “This is not piracy and must not be reported as such,” Paul said in custody. “It is kidnapping and extortion and even torture.” It is unclear if money changed hands; US$7 million was originally demanded but UK government policy forbids ransom payments. “We’re fine,” said Paul. “We’re rather skinny and bony but we’re fine.”

New figures show 790 people have been kidnapped by Somali pirates this year, on course to beat last year’s record of 867. Of these, 435 remain hostage. Dr Alex Coutroubis and George Kiourktsoglou of London’s University of Greenwich say crews are repelling more attacks, and attackers have responded with increased violence. “As it gets harder for pirates to capture ships, the Somali gangs are more likely to fire at sailors with automatic weapons in order to force vessels to stop”. Some tankers have had rocket propelled grenades fired at them.

Last year saw 217 hijack attempts. This year, to date, 140, and 40 ships seized – versus 47 for the whole of 2009.

Quiznos restaurant chain airs controversial commercial

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Quiznos restaurant chain airs controversial commercial
August 18, 2019 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Quiznos, a fast food restaurant chain that specializes in selling submarine sandwiches, has aired a controversial television commercial, with an extended version only appearing in the late-night lineups. The commercial is a promotion for the company’s new sandwich, the ‘Toasty Torpedo’. Bob Sassone, a writer for TVSquad.com, argues that it is homosexually themed and compares it to pornography.

The commercial begins with a toaster oven talking to Scott, a Quiznos sandwich maker, in a male voice. “Scott, I want you to do something,” says the toaster to Scott. As he takes a bite of a Torpedo and appears to look in the direction of his genitals, Scott says to the toaster, “[sic] not doing that again. That burned.” The toaster replies, “We both enjoyed that.”

Later in the commercial, the toaster asks Scott to make one of the sandwiches and says the price of it is “sexy” and then “sexier.” Scott grins and does so. The toaster then asks Scott to “stick it in me”. The sandwich just happens to be 12 inches long, giving the appearance of a special relationship between Scott and the toaster oven.

Quiznos published a press release on March 24 announcing the new line of sandwiches. They stated that their price of US$4 helps to ease the economic pinch. In a statement to Wikinews Quiznos stated that their commercials are within the company’s character and they were designed to get people talking.

“We developed our new ads to be consistent with the Quiznos brand and to get people excited about our new Toasty Torpedoes. Some of the ads are edgy and provocative, but they’re well within the confines of the Quiznos brand character,” said Rebecca Steinfort, chief marketing officer for Quiznos to Wikinews.

“Since Quiznos has a broad range of consumers that eat at its more than 4,500 restaurants nationwide, we tailor our commercials to be relevant and appeal to our diverse customers – all of whom are watching different kinds of programming. The new ads are fun and entertaining, and the edginess and innuendo of the ads are designed to get people talking about our new Toasty Torpedoes, and that’s exactly what we want: people to talk and taste our new sandwiches,” added Steinfort.

Bob Sassone a writer for TVSquad.com, one of the Internet’s top television weblogs, compared the commercial to a pornography film.

“The new Quizno’s commercial is probably the closest we’ll get to a gay porn flick in a mainstream sub shop ad,” Sassone wrote.

In 2007, the company made another controversial commercial. It featured people on the street eating samples of a Quiznos ‘Prime Rib Dinner’ sandwich. They promoted it as having a lot of “meat” and near the end it featured two women eating a sandwich saying, “It’s not lacking any meat. And that’s what real women need”.

“Nevertheless, Quiznos remains committed to providing its customers with high-quality ingredients at everyday lower prices, all with excellent service. As such, we encourage consumers to give feedback on the commercials to our corporate marketing department through the website,” said Steinfort.

Category:June 21, 2006

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Category:June 21, 2006
August 11, 2019 · Uncategorized · (No comments)
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Wikinews holds Reform Party USA presidential candidates forum

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Wikinews holds Reform Party USA presidential candidates forum
August 5, 2019 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Three men are currently seeking the presidential nomination of the Reform Party of the United States of America: small business owner Andre Barnett, Earth Intelligence Network CEO Robert Steele, and former college football coach Robby Wells. Wikinews reached out to these candidates and asked each of them five questions about their campaigns. There were no space limits placed on the responses, and no candidate was exposed to another’s responses before making their own. The answers are posted below in unedited form for comparison of the candidates.

The Reform Party is a United States third party that was founded in 1995 by industrialist Ross Perot. Perot ran as the party’s first presidential nominee in 1996, and won over eight percent of the popular vote, the highest percentage for a third party candidate since. In 1998, professional wrestler Jesse Ventura ran on the Reform Party ticket and was elected Governor of Minnesota. The party fell in prominence during the lead-up to the 2000 presidential election when it was plagued by infighting between ideological factions. In 2000, paleoconservative Pat Buchanan won the presidential nomination, and went on to receive only 0.4 percent of the popular vote in the general election. In 2004, the party opted to endorse consumer advocate Ralph Nader, but ended the year nearly bankrupt. In 2008, Ted Weill won the party’s presidential nomination, but appeared on the ballot in only one state and won a total of 481 votes.

The party is currently trying to rebuild and has opened several new state chapters. They will attempt to appear on the ballot in more states for the 2012 presidential election. The party is expected to nominate its presidential ticket during the National Convention this summer.

Contents

  • 1 The candidates
  • 2 Forum
    • 2.1 Question 1
    • 2.2 Question 2
    • 2.3 Question 3
    • 2.4 Question 4
    • 2.5 Question 5
  • 3 Related articles
  • 4 Sources

Wikinews interviews team behind the 2,000th featured Wikipedia article

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Wikinews interviews team behind the 2,000th featured Wikipedia article
August 4, 2019 · Uncategorized · (No comments)
This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

This week saw the English-language version of Wikipedia, the collaboratively written online encyclopedia, reach 2,000 featured articles with the inclusion of the article El Señor Presidente. Featured articles (FAs) meet Wikipedia’s highest standards for quality, accuracy, neutrality, completeness, and style, and thus are considered the best articles on Wikipedia.

The Wikipedia team that carries out the assessment and quality control before conferring the status of featured articles promoted five articles to FA status at the same time: Walter de Coventre, Maximian, El Señor Presidente, Lord of the Universe, and Red-billed Chough. With five promoted at the same time, conferring the status of 2,000th on one is an arbitrary decision and in some respects any of these articles could actually make a claim to the honour.

The article El Señor Presidente was created and developed by a University of British Columbia class, “Murder, Madness, and Mayhem: Latin American Literature in Translation“. While an important milestone, the 2,000th featured article is also symbolic of Wikipedia’s growing role in the 21st century learning arena.

The professor of the class, Jon Beasley-Murray, began using Wikipedia as a collaborative space where his students could both do coursework and provide a type of virtual public service. Thus, he created a Wikipedia project, Murder Madness and Mayhem, that focussed on creating articles relating to the Latin American literature covered in his class. Not surprisingly, El Señor Presidente is considered one of the most important books in Latin American literature, written by Nobel Prize-winning Guatemalan writer, Miguel Ángel Asturias.

The Wikinews team contacted Prof. Beasley-Murray, who agreed to be interviewed for this story. His responses can be found below. Included are sections soliciting responses from three students who took the class and helped create and bring El Señor Presidente to Feature Article status. Thus far the project has created seven good articles in addition to the 2,000th featured article.

Professor Beasley-Murray, thank you for giving us some of your valuable time and agreeing to talk to us. Can you give some background on what prompted you to start this project?

  • Prof. Jon Beasley-Murray: I should say first that I’ve written some reflections at the project on Wikipedia itself, as an essay I entitled “Madness”.
In short, however, I’d done some editing on Wikipedia a year ago. I’d got into that rather by accident–after finding to some surprise that some of my academic work had been written up at the site. I then spent some time trying to organize and expand articles and categories relating to Latin America, particularly Latin American culture, which is my area of expertise. I discovered that Wikipedia’s coverage of this area was uneven at best. It was while I was involved in this that it came to me that students could usefully participate on the site. They use Wikipedia anyway; why not find ways in which they could also participate? And I’d come to realize that it’s only by participating and contributing that you can really understand the Encyclopedia, both its strengths and its weaknesses but above all the way it comes to be how it is.
And I’ve always been interested in using technology in teaching: mailing lists, websites, blogs, and so on. But I’ve never much liked “educational technology”: programs such as WebCT that students only ever use as part of a course they are taking. By creating something of an educational ghetto, educational technology seems to me to miss out on the most interesting and exciting possibilities of the Internet: precisely the fact that it opens up to the world outside the classroom, and can reconfigure or perhaps even break down the rather limited relationship between teacher (supposed to be the expert and source of all authority) and the student (too often treated as the passive recipient of knowledge).
Overall, a Wikipedia assignment offered lots of possibilities, including:
  • teaching students about Wikipedia, an important site that they use (and too often misuse) often
  • improving Wikipedia itself, by generating new content on topics where its coverage is lacking
  • encouraging students to produce something that had relevance outside the classroom, in the public sphere
  • giving them tangible goals that were measured by something other than my own professorial judgement
  • changing their views about writing, by stressing the importance of ongoing revision
  • teaching them about research and about how to use and evaluate sources
… we did get one “speedy deletion” tag. It was placed, within less than a minute, on an article that I created in front of all the students, during class time. For one horrible moment, in front of the whole class, I had a feeling that things might go terribly wrong.

((WN)) Did you consult with fellow academics or students prior to launching this project?

  • JBM: No, not really. Perhaps I should have! But off and on last summer I did discuss the idea with a friend who works in educational technology at UBC, who had helped me with the implementation of blogs in my courses. And this friend, Brian Lamb, was as always very encouraging and supportive of this kind of experimentation. He looked into the possibility of helping me apply for a grant for the project, but it seems there aren’t any for this kind of thing. I decided to go ahead anyway, essentially on my own.
And in January, as the project was getting underway, I signed up with Wikipedia:School and university projects. There were plenty of other previous and ongoing educational projects listed there, so I presumed I wasn’t so alone and that what I was doing wasn’t so innovative. It was only much later that I realized just how different and how ambitious this project was: we were aiming to create featured articles, ideally twelve of them, and no other educational project had ever set out to do that!

((WN)) I would assume the Wikipedia community was in favour of your project, did anyone outwith that community make notably critical comments about your idea?

  • JBM: No, but then as I say I hardly talked to anyone about it!
I should mention, however, that it’s not necessarily a given that the Wikipedia community was in favour. I’ve noticed that with some other educational projects, the initial reaction from Wikipedians has not always been so favourable. In part that’s because students are encouraged to write a new article on anything they can come up with, and these are swiftly marked for deletion. In part that’s because they write essays offline, then upload them, and naturally enough they are not in Wikipedia format or do not follow Wikipedia conventions (about “original research,” for instance). Those articles are soon laden with tags, and their talk pages filled with warnings or reproaches. We managed to avoid that on the whole… mostly by accident! But we also avoided those problems, I think, because I’d spent a fair amount of time on Wikipedia already and was aware of some (but far from all) the habits of the site. And more importantly because we had quite definite aims: students weren’t editing Wikipedia for the sake of it.
Even so, we did get one “speedy deletion” tag. It was placed, within less than a minute, on an article that I created in front of all the students, during class time. For one horrible moment, in front of the whole class, I had a feeling that things might go terribly wrong. The article tagged for speedy deletion was El Señor Presidente… which is now, as you know, Wikipedia’s Feature Article number 2,000.

((WN)) How significant a percentage of the mark you were giving for the class came from Wikipedia contributions?

  • JBM: Originally, the Wikipedia assignment was to have represented 30% of the total grade for the course. Just over half-way through the semester, progress had still been relatively slow, and I was getting worried. So I proposed to the class that we change the course assessment, and that we scrap the planned final essay or term paper. This would mean that the other elements (a mid-term, blogs and participation, and Wikipedia) would all come to be worth more. We talked about the proposal, and I gave them some time to think about it. We then had a secret ballot, and I said in advance that we would only go ahead with the change if two thirds (66%) were in favour. In the end, 85% of the class voted for increasing the significance of the Wikipedia project to 40% of the overall course grade.

((WN)) As a member of the Wikimedia Foundation’s communications committee I (Brian McNeil) frequently see both sides of the conflict over how relevant or reliable Wikipedia is. This ranges from queries coming in from students working on their school paper who want a response to their librarian and teachers effectively banning use of Wikipedia, to the other extreme such as a recent case where a teaching surgeon in the UK asking for permission to quote extensively from Wikipedia for a paper on the site’s relevance and potential use for undergraduates in medicine. I have a stock answer detailing how to check Wikipedia sources; that Wikipedia is a great starting point for research, and that if you disallow Wikipedia you should disallow Britannica. Is this something you would agree with?

  • JBM: Over the course of this semester, I’ve come up with a response of my own to this question. If a Wikipedia article is a good one, then you won’t need to quote it, as it will have links to all the relevant sources. And if it doesn’t have those links, then it isn’t a good article, and shouldn’t be quoted in any case.
Before this semester, I explicitly banned students from quoting Wikipedia articles in their essays. And I will continue to do so. I also look askance at them citing dictionary definitions. And though they don’t quote Britannica (I think Wikipedia has now for all intents and purposes replaced Britannica), I would likewise be unimpressed if they were to do so.
On the other hand, of course, as you say, Wikipedia can be an excellent starting point for research. I personally use it often precisely for that reason.

((WN)) Was the experience of using a wiki for collaboration something you would repeat? There have been suggestions for something you might call “EduWiki” for the collaborative development of course material. Would you get involved with something like that? Do you see potential for use of the MediaWiki software in other areas of education? Such a project could be hosted under Wikimedia Foundation projects such as Wikibooks or Wikiversity. Would you favour that over a closed project within academia where contributors’ credentials could be verified?

  • JBM: I’m not sure. As is perhaps already obvious, I’m horribly suspicious of almost anything that has “edu” in the title. And I say that with all due respect to my friends who are in “EduTech”–though I should add that they are often equally suspicious, if not more so! I’ve had a couple of other experiences with wikis, in relatively closed environments, and they weren’t particularly successful. I think that was because there was never a critical mass. The one thing that Wikipedia really has going for it is critical mass. (Even then, of course, only a tiny fraction of the people who read Wikipedia ever edit it.)
The other thing is that too many academics still don’t get the wiki ethos. It’s hard for them (us) not to be possessive about our work. This I think is what causes most of the antagonism and frustration when academics do get involved in Wikipedia. The issue is seldom “expertise,” and much more often ownership. I realize I’m talking in broad strokes here, but for instance a wiki was set up in my faculty, and it proved impossible to edit anyone else’s texts. We might as well have been putting up .pdfs. It was an exercise in presenting position papers, rather than in collaborative writing.
Meanwhile, as for the topic of credentials, which I know has been much debated on Wikipedia, I think that’s a real canard. I don’t think credentials matter much. My students don’t have much in the way of credentials, but they’ve done superior work.

((WN)) Would you describe your students as receptive to the idea of doing coursework where the general public could view their works in progress?

  • JBM: I’d often asked students to write blogs in previous courses, which are also of course visible to the general public. But not too many people bump into such student blogs, except on rare occasions. Here, the point wasn’t so much that the Wikipedia articles were public, but that they were editing one of the Internet’s top ten sites. So one day I’d poked around and found out how many people had visited particular pages that we’re editing. (I compiled and later updated these numbers here.) And the next class we played two little guessing games. One involved what percentage of Wikipedia’s articles they thought were classified as “Good Articles”; they started at 30%, and it took them a while to get down to 0.15%. This was just after El Señor Presidente had made Good Article status, so it gave them a sense of the achievement, I think.
The other little guessing game concerned how many page views they thought their articles attracted per month. I can’t remember exactly the figure they started off with in this case, but I can tell you it was a lot lower than the 50,000 plus that Gabriel García Márquez actually receives. When we figured out that that article must have something over 600,000 visits a year (I now reckon it’s almost three-quarters of a million), the team who were editing that page were somewhat shocked. But my sense is that the realization was also rather exciting. And I know that the students who will shortly find their article on the mainpage of the English Wikipedia (it’ll be there on May 5th) are absolutely thrilled. Though frankly I think they (and the other students) are less interested in the fact that the “general public” can see what they’ve done, than in telling their friends and family to take a look at their work.

((WN)) Did any students fail to fit in and find themselves unable to work with Wikipedia?

  • JBM: Yes. There was a wide range of responses. Some were very enthusiastic. Others took a while to get into it. And there were a few who never really found themselves at home editing Wikipedia. I’m not sure of the reasons in each case. For some the technology stayed too intimidating, or rather (I suspect) they just didn’t put in enough time to get past that first hurdle. As this was group work, however, some of the effects could be worrisome at times. So it’s something I’d have to think over before trying a similar experiment again.

((WN)) Do you feel that doing this part of the course in such a radically open way encouraged any of the students to work to a higher standard than the might otherwise have?

  • JBM: Absolutely. No question of it. The most active students, at least, have helped produce articles of c. 4,000-8,000 words that are comprehensively researched, repeatedly revised, and with a meticulous attention to detail. The standard of every single article is far better than any term paper that they would have written otherwise. Of course, some students have been more actively engaged, and so have both learned more and been pushed more than others. But the constant reminders and questions from other Wikipedia editors, particularly the members of the FA-Team who have done much of the copy-editing, has forced them consistently to reflect upon what they are saying, how they are saying it, and what their sources are.

((WN)) In reflecting on the project, is there anything you would have done differently?

  • JBM: There were aspects of the groupwork that didn’t work out as they could have. And we did get off to a rather slow start: I’d have to think about how to remedy that. Moreover, once the project is over, the FA-Team and I (plus, of course, any students who are interested) plan to have a post-mortem on all aspects of the collaboration. So there are certainly things that could be improved. I know I’ve also learned a lot on this project, and next time would hope to benefit from what I’ve learned.

((WN)) You’ve hit about 6,000 edits personally, have you caught the “wiki bug”? Will you keep editing?

  • JBM: 7,000 now! I’ll need to stop editing for a while once the project is over: it has been very time-consuming. But I plan to be back in the Fall.

((WN)) In light of the apparent success of your project what would you say to other academics to try and persuade them to try similar experiments?

  • JBM: Absolutely. I don’t want to come across as too much of a Wikipedia booster. I can understand exactly why many academics’ engagement on the encyclopedia has proven to be disappointing or frustrating or worse. But I think that, especially if academics take some time to understand aspects of Wikipedia’s culture, there are forms of engagement that can be very rewarding. We were rather fortunate to run into the FA-Team, a group of experienced Wikipedia editors that had recently been established in order to help others promote articles to Featured Article status. Their involvement has been an absolute Godsend. But I see no reason why something similar (or even unpredictably different, and perhaps better) might not emerge in other circumstances.

((WN)) Before moving on to bringing your students into the discussion, I’d like to close with your thoughts on making this a regular part of the curriculum. Do you intend to do so? Do you feel other institutions should examine your project with a view to emulating it?

  • JBM: I certainly intend to repeat the experiment. The one downside for an instructor is that, if it is to be done right, it is very labour-intensive. On the other hand, in terms of capital resources it is essentially free. My university (and many others) pays millions of dollars per year for site licences for educational software such as WebCT. That’s a massive waste of money, as far as I’m concerned; though it’s a lucrative racket for the people selling the software. It’s also, I’d say, an abdication of an important aspect of the university’s mission: to invest in the Commons. The trend in contemporary academia is too often towards privatization and enclosure. (Though I should note that there are valiant exceptions, and my former colleague John Willinsky‘s work on open access is exemplary.) The more universities engage with Wikipedia, and the more they realize that they can do so without necessarily dropping the high standards of research and academic rigour that it is also their duty to safeguard, the more they benefit not only their own students, but also the public good.

In addition to the one featured article, seven made “Good Article” status. How much of an encouragement was that to those of you involved in the project?

  • Monica Freudenreich: I honestly cannot speak for the rest of the class but I think that everyone involved was a little bit weary (Ed: wary?) of this project. None of us had ever embarked on this sort of thing in our undergraduate careers before and to say the least, were unsure of how this would all turn out. Being students, we are prone to leave things to the last minute and with this project that was definitely not a possibility. So, despite a slow start in general, I think the status most of the articles in our project achieved is really impressive and that is a huge encouragement in itself
  • Katy Konyk: I can’t speak for the rest of the class but I think seeing so many articles achieve good status proved that he goal was very achievable. I think the only downside was that in class people are going to work at their own speeds so having others reach good article status, if you are not there yet, sometimes added to the pressure.
  • Elyse Economides: I think it was a form of encouragement, but also made the task seem a bit daunting. It was exciting to see that so many of the groups could attain the goal of “Good Article” status at the end of four months, but it also spoke to the amount of time and effort needed to reach that point. Hopefully seeing their classmates achieve “Good Article” status encouraged the individual groups that the same achievement was also possible.

((WN)) How long were you involved with Wikipedia before you really felt Good or Featured was achievable?

  • MF: I created a user account in January, along with almost all of the class as it was the first time I realized that one could edit wikipedia. The page I believe was created, with the help of Dr. Beasley-Murray on January 15th. After we got a “speedy deletion” tag put on our page, I thought I should get some content up there to make sure that it wasn’t deleted, as I have no idea how to create a page. So, we were involved with Wikipedia for about 3 months before we were put up for GA review and then it was just under 4 months when we were awarded the FA gold star. I do not think length of time with Wikipedia is important before achieving Good or Featured articles but rather quality of the content and willingness of other wikipedians to collaborate on the project. I relied on the more experienced Wikipedian users to let us know when Good or Featured Article status was achievable and create checklists for us to complete before getting to either stage.
  • KK: When we were first presented with this assignment in the middle of January I admit we were very determined to get a featured article and I don’t think I really realized how much overall work and reworking of the article would be required to attain that goal. In mid-February we spent a couple days trying to read every English source we could get our hands on and we were dumping the contents onto the page. It was at this time that others really started to take an interest by making suggestions and doing heaps of editing themselves. To be honest it felt a little overwhelming, realizing how strict Wikipedia rules are and all the editing we needed to do. While the extensive requirements were overwhelming at first they also made good and feature article status feel achievable because we were able to see exactly what we needed to do.
  • EE: Once Professor Beasley-Murray seriously encouraged us to start working on our articles, by assigning us to make one edit, large or small, to our article, creating an article on Wikipedia seemed slightly less intimidating, although it was still a huge endeavor. Most of the framework and information that carried through the editing process was formed during late February, and that’s when the status of “Good Article” became more of a tangible goal. The input from outside contributors and Wikipedia experts also became quiet salient at this point, and it continued on through the entire process.

((WN)) If you could improve the guidelines for people wanting to take articles up to Featured status, what would you change?

  • KK: I think the guidelines are fair and are what make Featured Articles such reliable sources. My only comment would be that the Manual of Style was extremely inaccessible to lay users, like myself and if there hadn’t been professional editors who knew what they were doing I don’t know if we could have gotten over that obstacle.
  • EE: Although I probably didn’t work as closely with the guidelines as the other members of my group, from what I experienced, there are a fair amount of technical and professional level requirements that is appropriate for the commitment to continuity and reliability, but difficult for beginning users to understand and properly use. The guidelines are a necessary component of Wikipedia, and Wikipedia provides comprehensive resources to explain these tools. Perhaps the best way to feel confident in using the guidelines is to practice making use of them and look at other articles for examples.

((WN)) Do you feel that having anything you did immediately viewable by anyone on the Internet encouraged you to aim for a higher standard than you might have with a more conventional paper that only the professor would see?

  • MF: Not really. I think what pushed us to achieve higher standards were the other wikipedian editors. They were constantly pushing us to find better references and to reference everything. In working towards GA and FA they set the bar incredibly high. Blogs and other internet sites such as Facebook are also readily viewable to anyone and they often have a very low standard, if any standard at all. So, I do not think that it was because the article and our work was being shown on the internet that we worked so hard at this project. The support of the other wikipedians along the way was critical for me to both keep working at it and to set the standard very high indeed.
  • KK: I don’t think that it was because our work would be immediately visible that we aimed for a higher standard. Personally, I think what allowed us to aim for a higher standard was the ability to receive feedback and continually rework the page, which is very unlike a paper where you only have the opportunity to submit it once and cannot fix the paper according to the comments. In this sense, Wikipedia was a much better learning tool than a paper, we were actually able to engage with the comments from other editors.
  • EE: I would almost say it has the opposite effect. While many users on Wikipedia are careful about the material they post, Wikipedia is a fairly anonymous resource, which means an individual’s contributions may not be directly linked back to that person. Wikipedia is also constantly changing as editors come and go, so the information one contributes is never truly permanent. A paper is always directly linked to the individual and unlike Wikipedia, the information placed within it is permanent.

((WN)) Do you believe that contributing something to a ‘digital commons’ gives you more of a sense of achievement than just turning in a term paper?

  • MF: Undoubtedly yes. This page will be read by countless people over the course of its existence. Because I have worked so hard writing and re-writing it, I am extremely proud of the finished result, I almost can’t believe I helped write it when I look back over it. Term papers I have handed back end up in a binder than eventually sits under my bed and files sit on my computer unopened ever again. This Wikipedia page will be seen and likely used by others in the future. After all, I am quite confident that the references list is a comprehensive list of nearly everything published in English on the subject. Any student or person looking to read more about El Senor Presidente no longer has to look any further than our references list. Now that is something truly amazing!
  • EE: Yes and no. While contributing to the creation of a “Featured Article” means disseminating that information to a virtually unlimited number of people, the creation of a term paper is also a feat in and of itself that requires a great deal of research and editing. It is true that within the forum of Wikipedia, an exponentially larger amount of people will see and recognize an individual’s work, but it is equally impersonal. I find each to inspire a sense of achievement (and perhaps mixed with a sense of relief as well).

((WN)) Have you caught the “wiki bug”? Will you keep editing?

  • MF: I am not completely sure. I think Wikipedia is a great resource and I have a lot of admiration for all those out there that work to make Wikipedia a thorough and reliable resource but I don’t know quite yet if I will keep editing. I would like to say yes but between two jobs and five courses right now I will have to stop or cut back until the semester ends. As for the summer, with three jobs and a couple classes, again I don’t know how much time I will be able to dedicate to Wikipedia but I think as I read novels in my spare time or do research for future term papers, I will definitely add references and information about future subjects and topics I study. I do not think I will completely stop editing all together but I will undoubtedly have to cut back.
  • KK: I don’t know if I will keep editing, only because I now know the immense amount of work and research that is required to produce quality work. I have caught the ‘wiki bug’ in the sense that I have a lot more respect for other Good and Feature articles out there. While I may not be able to quote them in my papers I have learned that they are excellent resources and can lead me to other academic papers. Wikipedia will still be my first internet stop for an area that I know nothing about; if it can lead me to other sources than I know it is a good page.
  • EE: I think I will continue to edit, though most likely it will be in the form of minor edits, such as spelling and grammar errors, because that’s my strongest area of interest. I think changing something on Wikipedia, no matter how minor it may be, gives the user a tiny sense of accomplishment.

((WN)) Assuming Professor Beasley-Murray repeats this project in subsequent years, what advice would you give to students following in your footsteps and starting on Wikipedia?

  • MF: I would advise them to start early and start with doing research. Along with Wikipedia, we also had weekly reading responses to hand in. I would advise students to approach Wikipedia as something that is due weekly as well and recommend that they spend at least one hour editing Wikipedia each week or doing research on the topic. To begin, online journal databases work really well but the reality is that many articles published about novels are not online and so consulting the research librarian is an invaluable tool. I think I visited them three times for how to get the information I was looking for. And also, I would advise them not to be too overwhelmed by the process. The wikipedians set very high standards but those standards are achievable. Have faith that even as an undergraduate who is not majoring in English, you can make an incredible contribution and get real results from your hard work.
  • EE: I would also encourage them to begin their research early and get as much information onto the page as quickly as possible. It seems that the veteran and experienced Wikipedia editors and users gravitate towards pages that show substantial activity. I would also encourage them to pace themselves (something I should have practiced more) and look for guidance on other article pages and through other users. Finally, I would encourage them to contact their group members early on and form a plan for the research and editing.

((WN)) Which would you describe as the harder ‘marking authority’? Other professors where you’ve submitted conventional term papers, or the teams assessing Wikipedia contributions with a view to awarding Good or Featured status?

  • MF: No competition. Our Good Article review was extremely intense and I actually was very overwhelmed by it initially. After working through each bullet point though, I can now see why those suggestions for improvement were both necessary and important. The hard work most definitely did not stop after GA review. In fact, before GA review had even ended another editor went through the article for us, line by line and came up with an even longer list of needed improvements, and once we did that, another thorough copy-edit was done. At times I was very discouraged by the mountain or work in front of me and not entirely confident that I could fix the problem areas but with their continued support and help we did it. Professors on conventional term papers make a few comments and hand it back to you. In nearly four years of University, I have only had one professor hand back term papers and give students the option to revise, rework and re-write problematic areas in the essay. And personally, I find this process of re-writing, clarifying and improving prose to be extremely helpful. Over the course of the last few months I have learned so much about writing I cannot even express… and it shows. I have been a B+/A- student throughout my entire undergraduate career, and my last two papers have been A’s! I think the grades speak for themselves.
  • KK: Wikipedia was definitely more intense but I think it was probably a fairer process. I don’t have a problem with someone being a tough critique when we have the opportunity to fix the problems. This is exactly what I enjoyed about the Wikipedia process and think this is what made it such a great learning tool.
  • EE: Wikipedia seems to hold more consistent and constant standards across the board, whereas professors can sometimes mark in an unexpected manner. However, in my experience with Wikipedia and my professors, each expect a high quality of work and challenge the contributor to create such work.

((WN)) Was there significant input from other Wikipedians not taking your course? If so, was this valuable?

  • MF: In the beginning we were mostly on our own but as we grew more comfortable with how to edit on Wikipedia and started doing research on the subject, we found ourselves supported by a great number of other Wikipedians, complete strangers willing to help us on the ambitious goal of Feature Article. This help was extremely valuable, in fact I do not think that Feature Article would have been possible without their assistance and guidance along the way. I cannot thank each and everyone of them enough for looking out for us and pointing us in the right direction when we hit road bumps along the way.
  • EE: There was definitely significant input from other users on Wikipedia, even before our group neared the “Good Article” mark. One of the greatest components of Wikipedia is the sense of community that is cultivated among all the users. When they recognize an area of need, they are quick to offer aid and support.

((WN)) As a fairly open-ended question, would you see any use for wiki technology in any of your other study areas, or even where you may hope to eventually end up in employment?

  • MF: I think Wikipedia is a great resource to find concise, compiled information and given the fast pace of society today, it will only grow in importance for people needed to quickly check the names of certain people or places when working on projects or reports in the workplace. I already use Wikipedia for quick reference checks, to clarify what something or who someone is that I am not familiar with.
  • KK: I totally see use for wiki technology. Wikipedia is often the first source I go to when I have a question. While I cannot cite Wikipedia in my school papers I have learned that if it is a good article then it can be a great database for other academic works that I can use and if not it is normally a great source to give me some basic knowledge. I think if more and more articles can reach at least Good status Wikipedia might start to be acknowledged as a reliable source.
  • EE: I have always appreciated Wikipedia as a resource to provide me with background information for many of my areas of study. While it is not acknowledge as a strictly academic source, I use it to familiarize myself with a topic before delving in to deeper research. I also find Wikipedia to be a useful resource for non-academic subjects, which is, in essence, the beauty of Wikipedia.

How did you feel when “El Señor Presidente” was made up to Featured Article (FA) status? Did you have a celebratory drink or a party?

  • MF: I was (and still am) extremely excited. Before this semester started in January, I was not even aware that anyone could edit Wikipedia, let alone create a page and build it from scratch. I honestly did not know if it would make it through FAC but we have had so much help with copy-editing and technical Wikipedia aspects of creating the article that it really would never have been possible to get a feature article if it had not been from the help of a few key other Wikipedians. Unfortunately there was no celebratory drink or party as the work of a student never seems to end but I will admit I have been rather shamelessly bragging about it to family and friends.
  • KK: It was very exciting but to be honest I had gotten used to editing Wikipedia for over 2 months that it was almost a little sad that the entire process was over. Creating a Wikipedia article is such a group process that I did feel a little sad to be leaving after working so intensely with such an amazing group of people. We have not had a celebratory drink, unfortunately it has been overshadowed by all the other work that school entails but I definitely think one is in order once school is done. I also don’t think that it has really set in.
  • EE: It was rather a surreal feeling. It’s hard to believe an article that was created in January is now deserving of “Featured Article” status less than four months later. Our whole class had a party of sorts to celebrate the end of the class, which I suppose could encompass the wrapping up of Wikipedia editing.

((WN)) Were you disappointed that more of your articles didn’t make FA status?

  • MF: I have not been involved with the other articles so I cannot say that I feel strongly one way or another. Perhaps this question would be better suited for Dr. Beasly-Murray, who has indeed been involved in every article.
I think FAs [Ed: Featured Articles] deserve more credit in the academic community because they are excellent sources of information.

((WN)) Was getting the article up to that status harder than you expected?

  • MF: To be honest, I don’t really know what I was expecting. When the project first began I took a good look at other articles on books that achieved Feature Article status and they looked really impressive so I knew from the beginning it was going to be a challenge but I was ready for that challenge and excited to give it a go. Basically, I jumped rather blindly into “editing” and the whole world of Wikipedia.
  • KK: I would not say that it was harder than I expected but perhaps more work. Luckily, we had an amazing group of Wikipedia users and editors on our side who helped make it very clear what was expected for the article. Honestly, without them guiding us I think this whole process would have been a lot more difficult if not impossible. This experience has taught me that if you are willing to put in the work and time than it really is not impossible.
  • EE: It required a commitment of considerable time and effort, but I think that’s to be expected for a highly recognized article. We were fortunate enough to be guided at every turn by experienced editors, who most likely the reason the article progressed so far, so quickly.

((WN)) Does the lack of credit on Wikipedia concern you?

  • MF: Not at all. Wikipedia is such a group effort that I think it would be extremely difficult to give credit to only a few people. I may have been one of the principle editors tirelessly working away at this article but at the same time it would never have reached FA without the overwhelming support from other collaborators who helped us out with many aspects of the article. What still impresses me is how thoroughly they were able to copyedit the article and really focus on sentences of weakness so that the finished product is rather remarkable.
  • KK: Personally, it does not concern me because I did this as an assignment for a class. Therefore, only having edited one article any lack on individual credit is not a worry for me, especially because this is such a group effort. What does concern me is the lack of credit Wikipedia is given in the academic community. Many people worked tirelessly on this article, and of course all the other FAs, to make sure it was all properly supported by academic sources yet it still has a bad reputation. I think FAs deserve more credit in the academic community because they are excellent sources of information.
  • EE: Not particularly. The goal of Wikipedia is to share and spread information, not formulate new ideas or pose arguments. Ultimately, users are merely compilers, gathering information and organizing it into a cohesive page. While some users may contribute more than others, all users are working towards a common goal, which doesn’t precipitate the need for individual recognition. Additionally, Wikipedia has in place it’s [sic] own sort of recognition and awards system that can give credit where credit’s due.

((WN)) Academia is often characterised as “publish or die”. Do you believe the educational establishment should embrace Wikipedia or wiki technology as a way of making this publishing requirement less onerous?

  • MF: Being an undergraduate, I don’t really feel as though I am faced with this “publish or die” thinking. I do think though that this has been a very valuable assignment and I see a lot of merit in doing it. It is a chance for us students who never have anything we write published to publish something on Wikipedia. I also think there are many valuable skills that one acquires from editing on Wikipedia because one does not write something once and never look at it again. Wikipedia encourages multiple revisions and re-writing or going back to the original research to further clarify points one makes. I think it also teaches valuable writing skills and helps on improve on areas of weakness in his/her writing. So, I do not know if I have answered the question per se but yes, I do think that the education establishment should embrace Wikipedia as a valuable education tool for students. Seeing that a person’s name is not directly linked to any given article and one’s proper name is not used while editing, I find that it would be extremely difficult for Wikipedia as it functions right now to diminish the onerous requirement of publishing articles.
  • EE: I think Wikipedia should be acknowledge for providing a (in some cases, somewhat comprehensive) background on certain academic subjects. And it would be nice for students of all levels of education to cite Wikipedia as an academic source for papers and projects. However, I recognize the difficulty in allowing Wikipedia to be considered a rigid academic source, since it is open to changes from academics and non-academics alike. I believe Wikipedia should continued to be used as a starting place for research and information and as a stepping stone to further resources.

((WN)) How has working on getting something to FA status changed your opinion of Wikipedia from that you held prior to the start of this project?

  • MF: As I said before, I did not even know a person could edit Wikipedia before the start of the project, so, my views of Wikipedia have changed drastically. After working on this page for so long, and achieving FA status, I now have so much respect for all of the editors working to improve the information out there. Wikipedia is a great source and I have no doubt that it will only continue to get better. Because I have been told not to cite Wikipedia information in academic writing, before the project began I had the idea that Wikipedia is rather untrustworthy. At the same time, one of my professors this year included in our course readings some Wikipedia articles such as “The Big Bang Theory” and I was shocked. I think the lesson I have learned from this is that Wikipedia can be an extremely valuable research tool and, at least with the Good and Featured Articles, they can provide the reader with a rather extensive list of academic work to references reliably. In the end, I can’t say enough how much I respect all those working on Wikipedia articles day after day, compiling resources and information and really doing something remarkable. Whether professors like it or not, Wikipedia is a widely used tool by students to quickly check facts about a person, place, event, or work and I think with the help of dedicated editors, it will only continue to improve and impress.
  • EE: It showed me the draw of using Wikipedia not only to access information, but to share it as well. It also showed me how much “behind the scenes” effort goes into creating, maintaining and editing pages. Wikipedia had always seemed like a resource dominated by experts or at least people fanatic about a certain subject. However, working on an article has shown me that truly anyone can contribute his or her bit to Wikipedia and make a significant impact.

I’d like to thank you all for taking the time out of your busy schedules to help on this Wikinews article. Who knows? It too could end up featured.

Wikinews interviews author and filmmaker Peter John Ross

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Wikinews interviews author and filmmaker Peter John Ross
August 4, 2019 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Wikinews held an exclusive interview with American author and filmmaker Peter John Ross. The head of Sonnyboo Productions, an independent film studio based in Columbus, Ohio, he has made numerous short films as well as co-directed a feature, the World War II B-movie Horrors of War.

He has also written a book on filmmaking, Tales from the Front Line of Indie Filmmaking. He says that it “combines helpful articles for beginning filmmakers with narrative tales based on my experiences raising money for features and the crazy personalities that invade the world of microbudget filmmaking.”

When asked why he makes movies, Ross replied, “There is no greater thrill than sitting in a room full of strangers watching the stories unfold with flickering pictures and sound. I live for the moments when I can sit there and watch the movies with people I don’t know and really feel how they react to what I wrote or directed or edited.”