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

Ilya Haykinson haykinson at gmail.com
Wed Aug 22 16:25:14 UTC 2007

On 8/22/07, Brianna Laugher <brianna.laugher at gmail.com> wrote:
> Is the wiki aspect a significant part of Wikinews? I would not have
> thought so. There are many tools you could use to collaboratively
> write news.

The wiki nature of Wikinews is core to its advantage for two reasons:
first, it allows for a lot of collaboration -- on average every
article is edited 18 times.  Second, it allows for communally-authored
articles instead of individually-attributed ones.  To my knowledge we
are one of the only citizen journalism / community news organizations
that allow this degree of collaboration and do not have by-lines on

> Is the "citizen journalism" part an important part? -there are many
> colleagues there.

Citizen journalism and original content have been important parts for
our mission within the Wikimedia family.  As the only project on which
original research is explicitly allowed and encouraged, Wikinews
provides a way for Wikimedians to contribute content they cannot
otherwise post anywhere on Wikipedia or other projects.

We have not, however, been able to establish a serious presence in any
community with our citizen journalism efforts.  The vast majority of
our articles are synthetic in nature as opposed to original, and even
a good deal of original content is "I was watching Event X on TV,
here's a summary".

Citizen journalism works best when it is tied to locales: cities,
neighborhoods, etc. It's what keeps it relevant.  We have not
succeeded at setting up a good structure to make this happen, even if
we've had some success at more disparate bits and pieces of the puzzle
with some truly outstanding articles.

> Is the free/libre part an important part? IIRC this was a strong
> argument when Wikinews began, that many people offer limited
> free/gratis news, but no one free/libre news.

The open-content nature of Wikinews is the second most unique aspect
of our project (the first is being a wiki and having no by-lines).  I
would say that the benefit comes in two parts:

a) For synthetic content (i.e. retelling of news from other news
sources) we are the only serious newswire-style project that licenses
its news content under an Attribution-only license.  Other projects
are either not newswire-style and instead publish editorials, or allow
a lot of their content to be cc-by-nc or cc-by-nd licensed.  An
argument that Erik Moeller has made frequently in the past is that
just the notion of having an archive of news that is completely open
will be valuable to those seeking to look back at a point in time and
not have to rely on paid, closed newspaper archives.  While we have
seen some republishing of our stories in the past due to our
permissive license, but by and large the online community has not
appreciated the wealth of historical articles.  I believe that this
day will come.

b) For original reporting the open nature of the license is valuable
as it allows for a quicker spread of exclusively-obtaining content.
Again, this has not been as widely appreciated as I would wish, but
the value seems more clear since we're talking about content that is
just not available anywhere else.

> Is the 'neutral' part an important part? I would guess so.

The desire to maintain NPOV separates us from long-established efforts
like Indymedia.  It is both a blessing and a curse: there are a lot of
individuals who love to write from a strong point of view, and already
do so on other community news sites -- we are unable to satisfy these
kinds of users and end up rejecting their work thus limiting our
growth.  On the other hand, we are nearly unique in being able to
provide a single high-quality news feed from a unified editorial voice
(i.e. news-feed compatible content rather than blog-style editorial

-ilya haykinson

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