While there is the "gutter press", when reading anything in newspapers, I understand that there are differing standards between which paper reports the news. But invariably I have seen that if the information is true to any degree, the information is still twisted and skewed in some way to sensationalise and sell their newspapers.

Can we really allow newspaper articles to be used for the primary basis of a question when there is no solid reference to the source?

One example is Did Mahatma Gandhi have a physical relationship with a man? where it is even stated in both reports cited that

scholars looking for clear evidence of the full extent of the men’s relationship, the subject of speculation for years, were left disappointed.

1 Answer 1


References in questions are for notability. They are intended to show that the question is widely-believed (and hence worth the effort to research), to show that the original poster has correctly understood the claim (so we aren't tackling a strawman or an ironic claim) and to give the answerers some context so they can glean what definitions might be used.

References in answers are for veracity; somewhere we can check that the statements made in the answers are backed by empirical evidence, expertise and logic.

We have very different standards for the two - a viral tweet is almost certainly notable, but might not be veracious.

Newspaper articles almost certainly meet the notability standard. It is reasonable to accept, for the purposes of this site, that if a statement is made in a widely-read article, it is believed by a large number of readers.

Whether they are accurate enough to be used as evidence in an answer is a bit murky, but generally left up to voting (and comments). We generally expect the evidence in the answer to be stronger than the original claim, so posting one newspaper article that contradicts another might not be sufficient. (But posting a correction from the same newspaper would likely be.)

The Gandhi question you mention suffers from a different problem. The original claim is so very weak: "Some people have speculated X, but scholars haven't found evidence for it."

If you want to answer it, you need to provide more robust evidence than the mentioned scholars. It is almost impossible to answer in the negative, and would require new evidence to emerge to answer in the positive.

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