Delphine Ménard wrote:
Well, here is an interesting subject if any. I am
answering your email
Craig, because it seems to be the most thorough in describing the
issue at hand. But I will try and take into account the different
reactions to it.
I remember an informal talk a few months ago with Andrew Lih, Arne
Klempert and Michael Snow about "chapters" and what this "name"
meant. We started with "local chapters" and actually, they are still
called that on the Foundation website, but we came to the conclusion
that at some point we might be running into interest groups wanting to
be formally recognized in some way or others by the Foundation as
We thought then of left-handed wikimedians, or maybe blind
wikimedians, or why not, wikimedians who speak English as a second
language, whatever. In short, we realized that the number of interest
groups that could spring out of the community is enormous and that
there would probably come a time when the Wikimedia Foundation, which
probably cannot address all of those specific issues (for whatever
reason, be it legal or else) would have to take them into account, one
way or the other. Learning curve...
So now, about a Wikinews "organisation" (I'll call it organisation at
this stage in order to avoid the confusion brought about by the word
Well, we're exactly there. Here is an interest group, with specific
interests, requirements and demands, potentially international, which
says "we want to get together". Like Christophe and Florence, I am
French so I understand their concerns. I even have been one of the
strong advocates of "The Foundation - or the chapters - should *not*
issue those accreditations".
But on the contrary to those who have expressed scepticism, I find the
idea definitely worth exploring. Because I think that we won't be able
to avoid this question of "interest groups" much longer, and I'd
rather see the Foundation address it now than have those form outside
of any kind of "partnership" or "recognition scheme" and lead to
There is one thing that bothers me here though. It is that we're
talking about starting an organisation to address one (1) problem. It
may be a serious problem and an issue that actually impeeds the growth
of Wikinews, but my experience has proven that an organisation should
not be founded to solve *one* problem, but rather with a real goal.
What would a "Wikinews organisation" really do?
I mean, is there a greater goal? Or will we have as a mission
statement "The goal of the Wikinews organisation is to issue
credential to wikinewsies"? That sounds a little meager to me to go
ahead and go through the hassle of forming an organisation altogether.
I would expect we would have a mission statement along the lines of "The
goal of the Wikinews organisation is to provide support for Wikinews
users in the pursuit of citizen journalism". Not a perfect mission
statement :) , but I think that echos my intentions for the
organisation. At the moment our number one need is proper handling of
accreditation. There are however many other tasks that a Wikinews
organisation could handle. Most of these are best handled by a chapter
or the WM foundation so as to avoid duplication of labour., but I am
sure that if we so desired we could find lots of work for a Wikinews
I'll go back to Brian's proposed names, which
have the merit of asking
Wikinews Reporters' Association
Wikinews Reporters' Union
I talked about this in my reply of a few minutes ago to Brian, But to
quickly summarize the problem with either of these two names is that
they will not help us much when we try to get into an event, as they are
very clearly reporter membership groups. They also exclude
Does the organisation *have* to be only centered on
Wikinews? Can't it
be called "wiki journalists of the world"?
Can't it then have an agreement with the Wikimedia Foundation which
allows it to issue accreditations with the Wikinews logo on them to
Wikinewsies who have gone through the community process?
Can't we invite other people who do citizen journalism to join and
work in this organisation to change the rules about "what" makes one a
journalist (going back to the legal issues pointed out by Europeans)?
I think keeping it mostly focused on Wikinews but supporting other
project that share our values would be good. The problem is that we have
the need for an official sounding organisation who can issue official
looking accreditations. The WM foundation already provides us with a
nice platform for community building and many of the other functions a
reporters organisation could provide. There is no reason that if done
very carefully we could not issue Wikinews press passes to
non-Wikinewsies who fit our values and whose work will be reusable on
Wikinews. The idea is to build the Wikinews organisation into a group
whose press passes are respected and whose reporters are seen as "real
reporters". Setting up a trade group cqan only do a very small part of
Can it be a Union? Should it be?
Maybe, though we do face problems trying to make it international. No :)
Is it US-centric? English-speaking only?
International? If it is, how
do we make sure that all Wikinewsies, across the world and languages,
are going to benefit from it? (Because frankly, if we have to do this
every other month with a new country/language, we might as well start
having local chapters all over again)
Like the Wikimedia foundation I would expect the Wikinews organisation
to be multilingual. At the moment only English speakers can get
credentials from Wikinews. This is something that should be changed and
something for a organisation willing to provide the logistacal support
something that can be changed.
An organisation that has asked itself all of these
questions and came
out with a "plan" as to what it can be, would definitely be an
organisation that I would like the Wikimedia Foundation to support.
Not so much one that says "we've got one problem, we've solved it by
now having an organisation, sign here to say you're ok".
What happens when the next problem arises? We all go and start a *new*
organisation that addresses that new problem? We've failed from the
beginning if we have to do this.
I would hoe if we get this set up correctly that it would be able to
scale to new problems, or the foundation or a chapter would be able to
handle it. I see starting a new organisation as a last resort. The
chapters and the WM foundation are unable to solve the problem so we
have to do something else.
Also, aren't there other existing organisations
which already have
solved the issue of accreditation and with which the Foundation could
partner in order to get wikinewsies accreditations? Rather than start
our organisation from scratch?
None that I am aware of. Most CJ projects are so set on the idea of
breaking down the traditional obstacles to what a journalist is, ignore
the immediate needs of press credentials. Indymedia is one of the few
exceptions to this and due issue press passes. However any involvement
with them would probably compromise our neutrality.