User:Sj/WN at 5

rescued after being deleted, for historical purposes
Wikimedia-logo.svg This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Wikinews' logo since 2005.
Image: Registered mark of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Wikinews, "the free news source you can write", turns five today. The project was launched on November 8, 2004 with the first article, New Beta Version of MSN Search Service from Microsoft released, being published three days later.

The project was set up as a demonstration wiki to show how a journalism wiki might work. served as the project's URL during this demonstration period. It was moved into beta mode changing URLs to A German Wikinews was set up at this time as well.

Ohio State University philosophy lecturer Larry Sanger said that the wiki model lent itself well the encylopedia model but not a news model due to their reaction to deadlines. "There are necessarily deadlines in news reporting, because news changes every day," he said.

The online news provider is one of many projects of the Wikimedia Foundation, which is best known for its free encyclopedia, Wikipedia. Wikinews was established " collaboratively report and summarize news on all subjects from a neutral point of view." Today, Wikinews exists in 25 languages. By any measure, the English version is the most extensive and most active of the Wikinews projects, according to Meta-Wiki.

Today there are 28 language editions of Wikinews with over 235,000 registered users between them. However they have come under critism from a number of sources.

"Above all, the central question about the Wikinews effort is its credibility. Making a newspaper is hard...Someone who wants to do it but doesn't really know how hasn't solved the problem by gathering a lot of other people who don't know, either," said Robert McHenry, former editor-in-chief of the Encyclopædia Britannica.

Cquote1.svg We seek to create a free source of news, where the 10% of human beings (as of 2004) with internet access, and in the future certainly more of us, are invited to contribute reports about events large and small, either from direct experience, or summarized from elsewhere. Wikinews is founded on the idea that we want to create something new, rather than destroy something old. It is founded on the belief that we can, together, build a great and unique resource which will enrich the media landscape. Cquote2.svg

—The original Wikinews manifesto

Videos are encouraged by Wikinews. Especially for local news
Image: Patrick Gillett.

Wikinews separates itself from other Wikimedia projects by allowing original reporting. Contributors regularly post original articles over a range of subjects. Indeed many of Wikinews' featured articles have original reporting of some kind, with some purely original.

"Wikinews is exactly what you would expect when you think of wikipedia and news. The layout of the news is the exact same as wikipedia and is potentially very boring for the reader," wrote one blogger in May 2009. "It appears that this news site is just another branch of Wiki and is used to promote the other Wiki sites."

Exclusive Interviews also make up a share of the articles on Wikinews. In 2008, contributor David Shankbone interviewed then-Israeli President Shimon Peres in what was dubbed "a milestone in [Wikinews'] development" by InformationWeek.

In May 2009, an article by Mike Halterman entitled Past Eurovision contestants give advice to this year's performers, speculate on who will win was translated from English to German, Spanish, French, Dutch, Portuguese, Polish, Ukranian, Swedish, Norwegian and Russian—a total of 10 translations. This made the the article "the largest cross-Wikinews translation ever."

Wikinews encourages readers to contribute local news stories to the site. The site's What Wikinews is page states "Wikinews is both global and local. Any story can be published where-ever in the world it is from, as long as it is news."

The free-news source even investigates suspicious edits to sister project Wikipedia. It has investigated scandals ranging from US Senate staffers editing inappropriately to Jimmy Wales being accused of editing the site for donations.

Site contributors have investigated a wider range of contentious issues. The earliest of these was an investigation into harsher anti cannabis laws in the Australian state of New South Wales on February 7, 2006. These reports generally end up as Featured Articles.

Since its inception, Wikinews has created several processes to keep the site running smoothly, and to ensure accuracy of its content. The peer review system requires that all articles meet a set of criteria prior to publication, including factual accuracy, newsworthiness, style, and neutrality, among others. Articles that fail this review system are flagged for contributors to bring them up to standard.

The controversial Flagged Revisions was implemented on the English Wikinews in a effort to prevent vandalism. David Gerrard noted on his blog that the tool was "Curiously unsatisfying."

"The fix not going live immediately left me wondering just when it would — five minutes? An hour? A day? It felt nothing like editing a wiki — it felt like I'd submitted a form to a completely opaque bureaucracy for review at their leisure," he wrote. "That it actually went live in just a couple of minutes doesn't change this."

During the initial weeks of Wikinews, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales noted a need for a journalism project separate from Wikipedia. He concluded that there was "an interest in writing more current events type of articles, but they aren't appropriate for an encyclopedia, so we needed a place to put those, to direct that energy."

Wikinews recognizes its best articles with a "featured article" process. Featured articles must meet and exceed the standards for publication; after a review period, an editor determines whether consensus has formed to promote. The most recently designated featured article, "AFL provides insufficient support for European leagues: Germany", received majority support for promotion.


This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.

cats: sci/tech, culture, internet