Editors Ink

A place to examine language and the state of journalism. And anything else that comes to mind.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Wendy.Seltzer.org
skewers the NYT on its Wi-Fi reporting:

March 19, 2005
NYT Catches the "Anonymous WiFi Is Evil" Bug

The New York Times runs an article in which law enforcement officials lament, somewhat breathlessly, that open wifi connections can be used, anonymously, by wrongdoers. The piece omits any mention of the benefits of these open wireless connections -- no-hassle connectivity anywhere the "default" community network is operating, and anonymous browsing and publication for those doing good, too.

Without a hint of irony, however:

Two federal law enforcement officials said on condition of anonymity that while they were not aware of specific cases, they believed that sophisticated terrorists might also be starting to exploit unsecured Wi-Fi connections.

Yes, even law enforcement needs anonymity sometimes.


The NYT said:

...But unsecured wireless networks are nonetheless being looked at by the authorities as a potential tool for furtive activities of many sorts, including terrorism. Two federal law enforcement officials said on condition of anonymity that while they were not aware of specific cases, they believed that sophisticated terrorists might also be starting to exploit unsecured Wi-Fi connections....

But, as Jack Shafer notes:

Never mind the pod of qualifiers swimming through in those two sentences—"being looked at"; "potential tool"; "not aware of specific cases"; "might"—look at the sourcing. "Two federal law enforcement officials said on condition of anonymity. …" Selzer points out the deep-dish irony of the Times citing anonymous sources about the imagined threats posed by anonymous Wi-Fi networks. Anonymous sources of unsubstantiated information, good. Anonymous Wi-Fi networks, bad.

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home