Wikipedia assignments have always cultivated a critique of where information comes from. Analyzing who writes Wikipedia, and the impact that has on what it covers, is a compelling lesson in media literacy.
Students in Naniette Coleman’s Sociology of Mass Media course at UMass Lowell are thinking about information in a different way. Many of those students are developing Wikipedia’s coverage of the theory, history, and practice of whistleblowing.
That includes contributions to a wide-view article on whistleblower laws in the United States. That article was marked as needing attention since January. Thanks to a student in the course, it finally got it.
They also focused on narrower applications of whistleblowing protections.
Another student editor’s article on nuclear whistleblowers discusses nuclear engineers who have flagged safety concerns. The article was expanded with information on the curious case of the Crystal River 3 plant. Concerns about the safety of that plant lead to a kind of hostile takeover bid, where shares of the company were purchased in order to force a shareholder’s resolution to close the plant down.
Students in this class are still working on finalizing their contributions, but we’re excited to see the impact they’ve already had on articles that explore legal protections and controversies around whistleblowing.