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Tue Mar 26, 2019, 04:08 PM

Facebook, Axios And NBC Paid This Guy To Whitewash Wikipedia Pages

Huffington Post
May 14, 2019
By: Ashley Feinberg


Executives at the news company Axios were outwardly unperturbed when Jonathan Swan, one of the Politico-for-kids site’s star reporters, attracted widespread condemnation last November for gloating about getting President Donald Trump to consider ending birthright citizenship. “Our profile is going to get bigger and bigger and bigger, and we’re going to have more cool successes,” Axios editor-in-chief Nicholas Johnston told staff later. Executive editor Mike Allen acknowledged that Axios had, perhaps, erred ever so slightly, but seemed otherwise unconcerned with the criticism. “You can’t buy the amount of public exposure we got this past week for our journalism,” he wrote.

hat may be true. What you can buy, however, are the services of a verbose, relentless Wikipedia editor willing to do whatever it takes to make sure that that public exposure is as flattering as possible. So, Axios did. Axios may not have expressed its worries about its reputational problem publicly or even to its own staff, but the company did hire Ed Sussman, a former head of digital for Fast Company and Inc.com who’s now a paid Wikipedia editor at WhiteHatWiki.com, to do damage control.

Axios had previously hired Sussman to beef up its Wikipedia page (mostly with benign — if largely flattering — stats about Axios’ accomplishments) in February 2018. A week after Swan’s Trump interview aired, Sussman was hard at work on the reporter’s Wikipedia page, arguing that the entry was unfair to Swan and used “sensationalistic language” instead of the “dispassionate voice” Wikipedia requires. To correct the issue, he suggested a total overhaul of the description.

bout a month later, Sussman proposed a list of extensive edits to Swan’s page. Some were clearly in service of his original argument about the Trump interview; others, such as his suggestion that Wikipedia editors add an “Awards and Honors” section, seemed focused on promoting Swan himself. He also asked editors to remove a sentence noting that Swan had once incorrectly reported that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had verbally resigned. Sussman then suggested the following paragraph be placed in its stead:

(excerpted; remainder of article at link)

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