Tags: jimmy wales | wikipedia | founder | fake news

Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia Founder, to Fight Fake News

Image: Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia Founder, to Fight Fake News
Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia. (Screengrab via Wikitribune)

By    |   Wednesday, 26 Apr 2017 08:46 AM

Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, announced that he will fight fake news with a new online publication that will bring together professional journalists and volunteer contributors.

Wales' new website, the Wikitribune, will raise money through crowdfunding to pay journalists and it will cover general issues including politics in the United States and the United Kingdom, The Guardian reported.

Donors, who will be called supporters, will have a say in what topics the Wikitribune will target, the newspaper said. Wales said that a "community of readers" will fact-check and subedit published stories.

"The news is broken and we can fix it," a statement on the Wikitribune's page said. "We're bringing genuine community control to our news with unrestricted access for all. We're developing a living, breathing tool that'll present accurate information with real evidence, so that you can confidently make up your own mind."

Wales said on the Wikitribune website that the website will be ad-free with no paywall. He said readers will be given the freedom to fix articles and submit them for review.

"Articles are authored, fact-checked, and verified by professional journalists and community members working side by side as equals, and supported not primarily by advertisers, but by readers who care about good journalism enough to become monthly supporters," the Wikitribune website stated.

Joshua Benton, director of Harvard University's Nieman Journalism Lab, told the BBC News that the crowdfunding model for the Wikitribune may limit its success.

"There are a variety of people who – if it does this right – will view it as a trusted platform," Benton told the BBC News. "But another 10 to 20 people are not going to 'fix the news.' There's certainly a model for non-profit news that can be successful if it's done on a relatively small scale and produces a product that is unique enough.

"But I have a hard time seeing this scale up into becoming a massive news organization," he added.

The Atlantic writer Andrienne La France stated that the Wikitribune could be harmful to journalism itself.

"The larger problem with Wikitribune is this: Someone who is paid for doing journalistic work cannot be considered 'equals' with someone who is unpaid," LaFrance wrote. "And promoting the idea that core journalistic work should be done for free, by volunteers, is harmful to professional journalism.

"The difference between a professional and a hobbyist isn't always measurable in skill level, but it is quantifiable in time and other resources necessary to complete a job. This is especially true in journalism, where figuring out the answer to a question often requires stitching together several pieces of information from different sources — not just information sources but people who are willing to be questioned to clarify complicated ideas," she continued.

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Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, announced that he will fight fake news with a new online publication that will bring together professional journalists and volunteer contributors.
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Wednesday, 26 Apr 2017 08:46 AM
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