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

Ray Saintonge saintonge at telus.net
Wed Aug 22 18:05:36 UTC 2007

Ilya Haykinson wrote:
> 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
> I strongly believe that the development of internal and external
> organizational structures that support our projects' interaction with
> other online and offline communities is critical to our long term
> abilities to sustain the projects.  But as Erik, Delphine, and others
> point out there are some core questions that need to be answered:
> - what does this organization do?  is it just accreditation or is it
> more general support of Wikinews activities?
> - what is the nature of this organization's relationship with WMF?
> what is the governance structure of this organization?
> - where does the funding come from?  who gets to set the budget?
> - how does this organization interact with local chapters and other
> WMF initiatives?
> I believe that answering these questions for Wikinews will help create
> a solution for other projects' needs as well, both for very specific
> ideas like supporting accreditation as well as more general ideas like
> interest groups.
I am not a Wikinewsie but I have followed this thread with some 
interest.  Supporting any kind of incorporated affiliates other than 
national chapters of WMF would be a significant departure from past 
practice.  This means that dealing with the kind of questions outlined 
above is far more important than it might be with national chapters 
where there is already some experience.
> In the case of the problem Craig describes the issue of recognition
> needs to be addresses by a believably-named organization that has
> Wikinews in its name and is international in scope to reduce
> duplication of effort (and deal with the fact that we need recognition
> in many more geographical areas than those with established chapters).
This does need to be looked at in the wider context of 
citizen-journalist accreditation.  My concern here is that once we start 
granting accreditation we are setting up an elite group with powers and 
rights that extend outside of our projects.  A similar situation could 
have arisen if Wikiversity had decided to grant degrees or diplomas. 
Accreditation means something more than the ability to fill in the 
blanks in a computer template, and printing off the results.

I can fully appreciate the difficulty that citizen-journalists face in 
gaining access to reportable events, but isn't this a problem that 
should be tackled by the wider community of citizen-journalists? 
> I suggest the following as a set of answers to the questions from
> above that satisfies this goal:
> 1) Create a non-profit organization with an international scope whose
> goals are to provide material support for Wikinews community members
> for the purpose of content creation, issue press cards to any
> community member accredited by one of the projects, and represent the
> projects as a central point of contact in interactions with other
> news-making or news-reporting organizations.
Fair enough.  It's a matter of setting this up independently, and 
determining the relationship that this organisation may have with WMF 
later.  One possible outcome is that Wikinews would no longer be a 
sister project overseen by WMF.
> 2) name the organization something that sounds like a news credential
> granting organization: Wikinewswire, or Wikinews Press, or something
> along these lines.  The problem with the "foundation" or "union"
> approach is that traditional foundations and unions are
> internally-focused and are not known to issue press cards in the "real
> world".
I don't see naming as a particular problem.  If the general idea flies 
those involved should be able to deal easily with the secondary problem 
of naming this new entity.
> 3) set the organization up as a standalone non-profit organization
> with its own governance structure, but create a strong set of
> requirements that the organization must adhere to if it wishes to
> retain a license to use a WMF-trademarked name.  The requirements may
> be that the organization cannot pretend or be the publisher of core
> Wikinews material; must not encourage the creation of non-open
> content; must not represent itself as the WMF; must report on its
> activities to the WMF twice a year, etc.
These are all reasonable considerations.
> 4) have the organization be responsible for its own funding, but have
> the WMF provide the license for its trademarked names for free, and
> encourage the WMF to provide small funding opportunities to these
> kinds of interest groups.
The organisation should be responsible not only for its own funding, but 
should also accept its own potential legal liabilities. Trademark 
licences may be initially free, but there should be no expectation that 
it will always be so.  Small amounts of seed funding could be 
appropriate; however, if we want the new group to be responsible for its 
own funding this should not continue beyond the fist year.
> 5) by becoming a partner to the WMF with regards to a given project,
> this new organization also becomes a de-facto partner to the chapters.
>  The organization may approach the chapters for help with
> bureaucracies in certain locales; the chapters on the other hand may
> use the organization to serve as the point of contact for all
> Wikinews-related inquiries.
We cannot impose this on chapters if it is not already a part of WMF's 
agreements with the chapters.  As independent legal entities it is up to 
each chapter to make its own accommodations with this new group.
> By creating this sort of a structure the WMF retains some oversight
> over project-specific organizations, and reserves the right to help
> these kinds of organizations with funding etc, but at the same time
> allows them to live and die on their own.  If the organization becomes
> a strong enabler of content creation, the WMF may even choose to
> internalize some of this organization's functions down the line.
These are possibilities.  WMF would still be free to grant its blessing 
or not.


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