There has been a raging debate in academia over truth and the construction of knowledge for decades. and for most of us it has indeed been an academic discussion (intereresting that 'academic' can be used as a put down just as 'amateur' can be).
What the Seigenthaler incident and the Wikipedia stuff I have been involved in show is that these arguments now have a large public experimental laboratory, as we can now all publish our thoughts on them.
As ever, Douglas Adams nailed it 6 years ago:
Because the Internet is so new we still don’t really understand what it is. We mistake it for a type of publishing or broadcasting, because that’s what we’re used to. So people complain that there’s a lot of rubbish online, or that it’s dominated by Americans, or that you can’t necessarily trust what you read on the web. Imagine trying to apply any of those criticisms to what you hear on the telephone. Of course you can’t ‘trust’ what people tell you on the web anymore than you can ‘trust’ what people tell you on megaphones, postcards or in restaurants. Working out the social politics of who you can trust and why is, quite literally, what a very large part of our brain has evolved to do. For some batty reason we turn off this natural scepticism when we see things in any medium which require a lot of work or resources to work in, or in which we can’t easily answer back – like newspapers, television or granite. Hence ‘carved in stone.’ What should concern us is not that we can’t take what we read on the internet on trust – of course you can’t, it’s just people talking – but that we ever got into the dangerous habit of believing what we read in the newspapers or saw on the TV – a mistake that no one who has met an actual journalist would ever make. One of the most important things you learn from the internet is that there is no ‘them’ out there. It’s just an awful lot of ‘us’.
I think the right approach is to write out your own version of things online, so that people can read your point of view, to allow it to be cited in places like wikipedia that attempt to arrive at truth, and to point out in public when people publish false things about you.