Kudos for an objective article
I would like to express personal appreciation for an objective article on a subject which has been characterized by endless hype in other electronic news media.
Wikimedia Foundation projects such as wikinews are maintaining and daily improving a well-earned reputation for accuracy and objectivity in reporting. It can safely be said in most cases that anyone interested in the most objective account of a current event ought to go to wikinews and wikipedia first.
I don't assert we're objective in every single case, or that the first version of a wiki article's always NPOV, but I do say that (unlike most of the other electronic media) we have an active, adversarial in-house mechanism to assure as close to a neutral point of view in our articles as human beings can provide. No other electronic news medium appears to be doing that. In particular, the Washington Post and New York Times have a chronic problem both with separating editorial comment from news content, and with assuring accuracy of their reporting (as the Jayson Blair incident shows).
I think wikinews ought to be better known and promoted as an objective news source - specifically because more care is taken here to eliminate political and other bias in reporting than in other electronic news media.
Well, thanks. The different properties of news versus encyclopedic writing prevent the Wikipedian approach from working here; so Wikinews goes about achieving neutrality differently — each wikimedian project works out its own approach to the crucial issue of neutrality. Wikipedia's approach is, as you allude, a matter of applying many editors and however much time it takes. That can work remarkably well (in practice though not in theory, as the saying goes) if you've got the time. By the nature of news, though, we don't have time for open-ended discussion of how to tell a story; and news is, by definition, vetted before publication. We can't publish a pile of facts and later fix the mistakes or rethink the overall presentation. We need an approach to neutrality that can be applied simply, quickly, and reliably by a reporter who has opinions of their own (if we limited reportage to Zen masters who reserve judgement on everything... well, it sure wouldn't be an open wiki). The main trick is to transform the story into just objective facts: we don't ourselves analyze the story, we don't endorse opinions or controversial claims, but we can still report objectively, with high confidence, that somebody else expressed an opinion, made a claim. Like the difference between "the fire started in a third-floor apartment" and "fire officials said the fire started in a third-floor apartment".
Thank you for your kind words. It was very tempting to openly lament the lack of intestines and/or gonads of both sexes on the part of the College in the article and I am glad to see that these efforts were appreciated. Will continue to fight the urge to use the word "boneheads" in political news. (Should still be good for paleontology.)
Wikinews does seem to have a higher tolerance for snappy prose, though.
I'd add that I'm (very) pleasantly surprised to see this bring real value to coverage of this, as it was heavily covered by Western/English-language media. We often just sit out that kind of story so it's nice to find this was still useful. :)