Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales tackles news with WikiTribune

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Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales tackles news with WikiTribune

Washington (AFP) – Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is launching a project aimed at reshaping the news media called WikiTribune — using the same principles as the popular online encyclopedia.

“The news is broken and we can fix it,” WikiTribune says on its website, after Wales announced the plan late Monday focused on “evidence-based journalism.”

WikiTribune aims to tackle the epidemic of fake news and misinformation by using crowdsourcing — or the broad online community of journalists and others as fact checkers — the collaborative “wiki” system used by Wikipedia.

“WikiTribune takes professional, standards-based journalism and incorporates the radical idea from the world of Wiki that a community of volunteers can and will reliably protect and improve articles.”

The new service will be free, without advertising, relying on contributions from users in the same manner as the nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation that operates Wikipedia.

Jeff Jarvis, a City University of New York journalism professor who is an advisor to the project, said in a blog post he is “excited” about WikiTribune,

“I see the need for innovation around new forms of news,” Jarvis said.

“The community of contributors will vet the facts, help make sure the language is factual and neutral, and will to the maximum extent possible be transparent about the source of news posting full transcripts, video, and audio of interviews.”

The website indicates WikiTribune plans to hire 10 journalists, and has an advisory group that includes Jarvis, venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki and British actress Lily Cole.

Laura Hazard Owen, deputy editor of Harvard University’s Nieman Journalism Lab, said it remains to be seen if the project will succeed.

“Good things can happen when a crowd goes to work on trying to figure out a problem in journalism,” she said in a blog post. “At the same time, completely crowdsourced news investigations can go bad without oversight… An entirely crowdsourced investigation with nobody to oversee it or pay for it will probably go nowhere.”‘

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, pictured in 2016, hopes to tackle fake news with WikiTribune
Copyright AFP/File ERIC PIERMONT

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