This guide does not tell you how to write an article — for that see Wikinews:Writing an article — but what can or cannot be in an article, and what must be in an article.
What Wikinews articles are
Wikinews has two main types of articles:
- The most common is the synthesis article. These draw on media reports from several independent sources which must be cited. Multiple reliable sources are required for verifiability and neutrality.
- The other is original reporting. First-hand reports such as interviews, eye-witness reports, the conclusions of — or a progress report on — an investigation; details of this can be found here. Note that neutrality is still required.
Write news articles
Unlike Wikipedia, Wikinews is a site with stories that chronicle the events when they happen. If something changes, don't edit an old (more than a day) article to update it: write a new one, and link to the old one for reference. Only fix old articles that don't follow current style or content guidelines. If you deem a topic very important — or if it keeps reappearing in the news — propose setting up a category and redirects, so that related articles will link to it and it can be invoked by an infobox.
Before starting your first Wikinews story, you may want to familiarize yourself with what Wikinews is not.
What is 'news'?
Wikinews is for writing news stories, like those you read in the newspaper, or see on the television news.
- News stories focus on a recent single current event or phenomenon. (If developments to an on-going event or issue occur, start a new story, don't edit an old one.)
- News is factual. Opinions should be sourced from qualified sources, and the fact that those people express those opinions becomes the fact that is reported.
- A qualified source is an organization or someone who is taken seriously by the general public when commenting on a particular area of expertise. They should also be the most important or relevant such source you can get, e.g. on law enforcement policy, the Commissioner of Police is better than a Police Constable. Comments from 'ordinary' sources with an interest is also useful, but only against the context of what the 'important' sources said.
- Articles must be written from a neutral point of view. News is reported in an unbiased way, and should not vilify or defame.
- News is relevant. Being Wikinews — global and Internet-based — stories about local news may need to have their relevance explained for our international audience. Stories should appeal to a large number of people.
- Don't post press releases or personal writings. Follow the neutral point of view policy.
- Ensure your reporting is timely and the story is at most a week old with new information come to light in the last 2–3 days. Facts don't cease to be facts, but news ceases to be news.
Interviews can step outside the above newsworthy criteria to some extent. Efforts should be made to tie them into current events, but it is perhaps best to discuss ideas prior to embarking on an interview project. Several Wikinews regulars have conducted interviews and can offer their insight into the process and tailoring content to be informative to the public.
Research your story
Use some of the news sources listed in the Wikinews:Research Desk (or try News sources on Wikipedia), and find background supporting information via search engines such as Google and Yahoo! to flesh out your writing. Save the web addresses (URLs) to the sites you used; you will need them to cite your sources so other editors can see that your work is based upon facts.
You must quote your sources using the "sources" template, see Wikinews:Writing an article.
It is possible, but difficult, to import a story from another news site. The article must be freely licensed or public domain in a manner compatible with the Creative Commons Attribution license (that is, it must be free for others to use in any way they choose, including commercially and derivatively.) It must also meet all criteria for articles, including the policies and guidelines such as WN:NOT.
Cite your sources
It is of utmost importance that we cite sources for any factual claim we make. Try to track down the first source that makes any particular claim. See Wikinews:Style guide for citation style.
To help guard against possible mistakes by news sources and to help establish a neutral point of view, editors are encouraged to find multiple sources on an issue, and fact-check those sources.
Wikinews allows original reports if they are attributed to identifiable sources. For now, anonymous reporting is not allowed. Please see Wikinews:Original reporting for ideas regarding the process.
Wikinews does not want to infringe copyright or other licenses or laws
Again, legal requirements as well as politeness and good relations demand that we police Wikinews and write without infringing licenses, copyrights, laws of secrecy and so on.
Follow the guide above to referencing and attributing and you are well on your way.
News reporting is protected in many countries as an important right that balances, to some degree, intellectual property laws such as copyright. You may even be forgiven by some if you report official secrets, though. The key is to only include as much as is necessary to tell the news, to attribute your source, and to only do so if there is a public benefit.
Don't copy entire pieces of copyrighted work — this includes most websites, even if you cannot see a copyright notice, and includes both portions of text and entire articles.
If in doubt, leave it out. There are often alternative sources for material if you can't get permission.
Some resources on this topic appear below.
- Wikinews introduction to writing an article
- Wikinews Journalists' Code of Ethics
- Wikinews newswriting style guide
- Wikinews research desk, providing links to many reputable news sources
- news sources on Wikipedia — Hierarchically organised to encourage NPOV.
- Wikinews guide to original reporting
- Wikinews article flags for use when an article needs editorial attention