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

Craig Spurrier craig at craigweb.net
Wed Aug 22 15:00:17 UTC 2007

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" 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
> "chapters".
> 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
> "foundation").
> 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 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 
organisation .

> I'll go back to Brian's proposed names, which have the merit of asking
> further questions
> 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 
photojournalists :).
> 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 
this goal.
> 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.
-Craig Spurrier
[[n:Craig Spurrier]]

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