Wacky Wiki Wokka Woo!

There’s nothing about this LA Times-Wiki-Editorial story that I don’t love:

Nearly 1,000 users registered to participate in the rewriting of Friday’s lead editorial. Called “War and Consequences,” the piece argued for the U.S. to set goals for training Iraqis to replace U.S. troops in Iraq and for the firing of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld if those goals were not met.

Although marred by some profanity by contributors, the experiment got off to a fairly high-minded start, said Michael Newman, deputy editor of the editorial page, who proposed the wikitorial idea.

Voluntarily overseeing part of the discussion was Wikipedia founder Jim Wales, who soon encouraged “forking” the editorial into two pieces — one taking a pointed anti-war stance and the other arguing for the ongoing U.S. presence in Iraq.

After midnight Saturday, Newman said, he stopped monitoring the site for the night, and later the pornographic images began to pour in.

As my favorite press critics, the good souls at Testy Copy Editors noted, it’s yet another case of newspapers looking at the web and thinking one word: cheap. Moderators and some reasonable safeguards might have prevented this from becoming the kind of mess we journalistic train wreck rubberneckers love. But that would have required assigning someone to the project and paying him or her, which would have defeated the whole “gee whiz” aspect of the thing.

Remember the Sloganator? That, and the sight of my grandma yelling at the answering machine when one of us calls, is what this reminds me of.