Talk for Article "Damascus urban warfare matches pattern of ‘indiscriminate’ attacks"

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    I am not sure that we can consider Bellingcat to be a trustworthy and neutral source of information. It shows a strong pro-western and anti-Russian bias. His creator is the stereotype of the arm chair expert : “ expert in open-source conflict analysis”. Therefore to base a large portion of the article on what he is saying does not seem a good idea to me. The other sources that were quoted are also heavily biased – New York Times / Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. Where is the other side of the story? Presenting the views of only one side is what the mainstream media is doing. I can see this article appear in The Guardian or a similar publication. We should aim for a better outcome here.

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      I see your point, but I think one of the issues many people have had is that it has been very difficult to get reliable information from Syria’s conflict zones, and almost impossible to get reporters in them in recent years. That makes the most rigorous open-source investigative work valuable, especially if it is compared to less rigorous outlets. It would be great if someone from the other side of the story was offering reporting that was as transparent in its methodology as Bellingcat, but I haven’t found any. If you can think of a comparable outlet that we could compare to that would be great. Jack

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        I agree with your point. May be we should think about flagging information sources in a certain way that would allow readers to understand their bias? If that is not possible, it might be worth mentioning at the end of the article, that the information provided in the article could not be corroborated with the “other side of the argument”….just to ensure that people are clear that this is not the universal truth, but statements made by biased sources…

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          Interesting idea. There is actually a community-led project on flagging bias in media sources, (https://www.wikitribune.com/project/news-sources/) which perhaps we could make more use of in our stories. It is of course good practice to present both sides, which we need to make sure we are doing as much as possible.

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            Thank you for pointing out this initiative. I was not aware of it.

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        A simple way to add balance and objectivity to the article would be to include a background of the source. What I’ve found useful in the past is to see who is funding the source, because this almost certainly influences the source’s objectivity. For example, if Bellingcat is currently receiving funding because of its pro-regime change views, this would be an incentive to continue this or be unemployed.
        The other important thing is to review the credentials of the person, or persons that make up the organisation. In academic research, we reference peer reviewed work and our research results are only as good as the basis on which it is built. In the case of Bellingcat, even though they promote themselves as experts, I believe that they have no formal training or qualifications. Their methodologies and conclusions have been publicly contradicted by multiple professors that have more training and more experience. To make the article better, I would suggest looking at their qualifications and also presenting the views and qualifications of other people that have contradicted them e.g. Professor Theodore Postol (MIT), Professor Tim Hayward (Edinburgh University), Professor Piers Robinson (The University of Sheffield), Dr. Tim Anderson (The University of Sydney).

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