English Wikinews is in a market with many, many professional
competitors. Competitors with a paid staff that steadily create
reliable news output quick and in most cases _for free_. While good
encyclopedias were still sold for thousands of dollars in 2001, news
were already available for free back then. So there's no big advantage
for the reader in using Wikinews instead of some other news resource.
A further point is steadiness. A Wikipedia doesn't loose much value if
you leave it unedited for some days because of contributor shortage.
On Wikinews on the other hand most readers will leave forever if there
are no current news since days. It's very hard to build a userbase if
you cannot guarantee a continuous flow of new news.
And it's hard to gain authors if you have no readers because the texts
will only be of interest for a few days. If you write a news article
and noone reads it you have wasted your time. On Wikipedia however, if
you write an article you can rest assured that people will read your
text. If not today then in a year.
Other than a Wikipedia where even a single person can build an
increasingly useful resource over time, Wikinews has a critical mass.
If it doesn't reach the criticial mass of steady contributions, the
project will never lift off.
It's my opinion, that Wikimedia should try to support a Wikinews by
paying a editor in chief and a core team of reporters to secure that
the project always stays above the critical mass.
Ideally that isn't done in the oversaturated market for English
language news but in a language that doesn't have any native language
news outlets. Pick the language with the biggest number of speakers (I
guess that'll be in rural Africa or Asia) that has no own media and
hire an editorial team. Send them out to make contacts into the
diaspora of the language and into the countryside to find volunteer
reporters and correspondents. Let them do a mix of world news and
original local news reporting. Go into print. A few newspapers per
village will probably suffice if you distribute it to the right places
and propagate sharing.
Provide free and open news to people who haven't had access to native
That of course means spending some money. Perhaps it won't work. But I
think it is worth actually exploring it further and trying it out. At
least that would be a form of Wikinews that could actually _make a
difference_. The current model of "give them a wiki and don't do much
else until six years later the project crumbles to dust" does not lead
to anything making a difference.