[Foundation-l] [Wikinews-l] Proposal for the creation of a Wikinews foundation

Delphine Ménard notafishz at gmail.com
Wed Aug 22 10:44:11 UTC 2007

On 8/21/07, Craig Spurrier <craig at craigweb.net> wrote:

> I am proposing the creation of a separate organization that would allow
> Wikinews to properly handle press accreditation. The Wikimedia
> foundation has been unable to do this due to concerns over being seen as
> the editor and the legal consequences that go with that. Proper press
> accreditation is however very necessary for Wikinews.
> A separate organization with a trademark license would be able to
> properly handle press accreditation and have very minimal assets at
> risk. This organization would not handle anything beyond accreditation
> and tools to provide support for accreditation. I am in no way proposing
> splitting Wikinews from the foundation or anything like that. We are
> overall very happy with the foundation, but we have a need that the
> foundation is unable to provide for.


> There are several other resources the foundation has been unable to
> provide that are very helpful to us such as official e-mail addresses.
> Brian McNeil has the wikinewsie.org domain and has offered e-mail
> addresses with it. The response rate with these addresses has greatly
> increased. Once again there are legitimate concerns that prevent the
> foundation from being able to do this, but a separate foundation would
> be able to.

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" really
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
potential disagreements.

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'll go back to Brian's proposed names, which have the merit of asking
further questions
Wikinews Reporters' Association
Wikinews Reporters' Union

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)?
Can it be a Union? Should it be?
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)

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.

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?

I think Brian's writing to the IFJ is a very good first step.

So, to sum up:
- Let us think about how a wikimedia-based interest group can be heard
and exist independantly from the Wikimedia Foundation
- Let us think what this interest group *really* brings to the table
-Let us THEN think what is the best "organisational" scheme for it.

And most important, let us not try and solve problems with
disporportioned(ate?) solutions.

PS.(although this is a personal opinion, it may be worth mentionning
that I am also chapters coordinator for the Wikimedia Foundation)


La critique, art aisé, se doit d'être constructive. -- Boris Vian in
*Chroniques du menteur*

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