Posted on April 25, 2017 by staff

Wikipedia founder launches site to ‘fight fake news’


Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is fighting so-called fake news by combining the work of professional reporters and volunteers.

Named Wikitribune, he intends for the venture to offer “factual and neutral” articles, which will be ad-free, and free to read.

Like Wikipedia, it will rely on supporters making regular donations to produce “fact-checked, global news stories”.

The business model is based on monthly subscriptions by communities which commission the reporters.

It is hoped that contributors will aid journalists in checking facts using a variety of sources – such as full transcripts, video and audio interviews.

To begin with, Wikitribune will launch in English and other languages will follow should funds allow.

Wales, who will be ‘100 per cent hands-on’ in the early stages, said: “Wikitribune is news by the people and for the people.

“This will be the first time that professional journalists and citizen journalists will work side-by-side as equals writing stories as they happen, editing them live as they develop and at all times backed by a community checking and re-checking all facts.”

According to the BBC, a demo version of the site declares “the news is broken and we can fix it”.

As with Wikipedia, Wikitribune will require writers to detail the source of each fact, and then rely on the public to edit articles to keep them accurate.

While anybody can make changes to a page, they will only go live if a staff member or trusted community volunteer approves them.

It has been suggested by Joshua Benton, the director of Harvard University’s Nieman Journalism Lab, that crowdfunding could limit the effectiveness of Wikitribune.

He told the BBC: “There are a variety of people who – if it does this right – will view it as a trusted platform. 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 organisation.”

Other advisors to the scheme include Silicon Valley venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki, journalism lecturer Prof Jeff Jarvis, US law professor Larry Lessig, and model/actress Lily Cole.