John Seigenthaler, a nationally recognized advocate for the First Amendment also known for his criticism of Internet vandals who post false information on user-created sites like Wikipedia, will speak Oct. 21 at Vanderbilt University’s Central Library.
His talk, “Wikipedia, WikiLeaks and Wiccans: Historical Accuracy Online” will take place from 3 to 4 p.m. in the library’s Community Room with a reception to follow.
Seigenthaler is the founder of the First Amendment Center, former president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors and chairman emeritus of The Tennessean. The eminent journalist and author is the longtime host of “A Word on Words,” a weekly program on WNPT, Nashville Public Television, during which he interviews authors, journalists, historians and others about their books.
In 2005 Seigenthaler was a victim of misinformation on Wikipedia, the popular and free online encyclopedia. An anonymous posting of an inflammatory and fake “biography” included several false statements, including that Seigenthaler was once thought to be involved in the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy. The “biography” contained only one accurate statement – Seigenthaler had worked for Robert Kennedy during the early 1960s.
The hoax was not corrected for more than four months. After Seigenthaler spoke out and wrote about his experience in publications such as USA Today, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales said that the encyclopedia had banned unregistered users from writing new articles.
Seigenthaler’s talk is free and open to the public. The lecture will be videotaped and posted later at news.vanderbilt.edu. For more information, call Celia Walker at 615-343-4701.