On 25 April 2017 at 22:59, Jimmy Wales <jimmywa...@wikia-inc.com> wrote:

> Today I announced a new initiative, outside of my Wikimedia activities,
> to combat fake news. It is important to me that I share directly with
> all of you information about this new initiative early on.


I was one of the Wikipedians at the hackathon days for this, a few
weeks ago. (And now it's gone live and I can speak of it in good
conscience!)

The obvious comparison is Wikinews. Now, Wikinews contributors are
determined that WikiNews is a good project that deserves to live, and
they also resent Wikipedia for doing news more effectively as a
sideline than they do as their main thing and the WMF is unfair and so
forth. But from the outside view, it's important to note that
approximately nobody cares about Wikinews and it's a failure in
impact. Or: if WikiTribune turns out to have the content,
participation and readership of Wikinews, it will have failed.

The question is why Wikinews didn't take off. There's a sort of myth
that it's too process-heavy - but the rough WikiTribune rules on the
day (which may or may not be the ones they go live with) were *pretty
much the Wikinews process*. (I looked them up on the day.) So that
isn't the missing magic ingredient.

I suspect one big problem is that journalism anyone's interested in
reading involves gathering dubious information and assessing how true
it is likely to be. It's pretty much a process of turning bad sources
into good ones. Actual reporting tends to work like "I talked to these
three separate sources, none of whose names I can print, but I'll tell
you my editor." "Yep, looks likely enough to run." Bam, scoop. It's
hard to do that in a fully transparent manner (put up the recordings,
etc) without outing your sources. I spoke to one journalist on the day
and they concurred.

And that's before you get into there being no such thing as neutral
news, just news that pretends to be. It's not clear that NPOV is even
a good idea - selection of stories to cover is a huge bias.

There's also the danger of the other failure mode of citizen
journalism. The example I brought up on the day was BeforeItsNews.com
- I won't spoil it for you, go there and see what sort of stories it
covers and what sort of advertising it runs. It turns out you need
sane editorial control at some level.

It's possible the missing magical ingredient that will let it take off
will be paid professional journalists - that this will produce a news
site that's exciting enough, and not just "me too" stories everyone is
already running, to get subscribers. But again, it'll need some way
for them to say "This is the story, I'm not revealing my sources, but
me and x editor concur it's a news story we'd stand by running."

WordPress is probably the least-worst option for a CMS. MediaWiki is a
horrible CMS for anything that isn't a reference work. You can do
almost anything with WordPress if you throw enough money at extension
development. (Which may or may not be a good idea.)

Anyway, I'll be watching closely and probably diving in at least slightly.


- d.

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