The founder of Wikipedia today announced that he will attempt to defeat fake news by founding a news site based on the ubiquitous online encylopedia.
Jimmy Wales declared the news “broken” because of the volume of false information flooding the internet.
In response, he has launched Wikitribune, a news site which will outsource key parts of the editorial process to volunteers and donors.
Wales said that a core team of 10 to 20 journalists will do the hard graft of conducting interviews and filing copy, while a hive mind of volunteers go forth and verify information on an unpaid basis.
The site doesn’t exist yet – but a mocked-up screenshot in an announcement video suggests that the site will cover worthy “global” events in the bland tone already cornered by the likes of the BBC, Reuters and the AP:
The site won’t run ads and will instead be funded by people who hand over regular cash donations – with suggested amounts running at $10 to $20 a month.
He claims the different model will stop the malign, traffic-obsessed instincts of much online journalism today, and raise standards across the industry.
The aim is for articles to be “factual and neutral” – and random readers will be allowed to suggest edits and submit pages for review if they don’t like them.
Unlike Wikipedia, edits won’t immediately appear on pages, and will need approval by staff first.
It is not clear to what extent the will of “the community” will decide what stories to cover, or whether they will just be expected to help with whatever the pros decide are the stories of the day.
However, in an interview with the BBC, Wales said that regular donors will get a chance to shape coverage by specifying topics for staff to cover – raising the prospect that Wikitribune’s news will be shaped by the will of the people whose money is going into it. Just like every other news provider, in other words.