Wikinews 2014: An 'Original reporting' year in review

Wednesday, December 24, 2014 With the English-language Wikinews continuing to increase the amount of original content published, we take a look back at some of the eighty-plus original reports from our contributors during 2014.


Mainstream press risked contempt of court charges in publishing a suspect's name.
Image: The Guardian.

Media organisations in the United Kingdom focused on Edinburgh early in the year, following the disappearance of three-year-old Mikaeel Kular. As police found a body Wikinews found evidence suggesting media had been caught out by Scottish contempt of court law.

The Contempt of Court Act 1981 is designed to prevent prejudicial material going in front of juries before trial. Although UK-wide legislation, the law is interpreted more strictly north of the border than in England and Wales. Wikinews subsequently received correspondence from Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill in which he expressed confidence in the court system to handle the issue. Legal experts confirmed to Wikinews the potential difficulties in which the media had placed themselves.

In late 2010 a geological expedition to Antarctica drilled through the Ross Ice Shelf so they could send an ROV under it. What they found was unexpected: Sea anemones. In their thousands they were doing what no other species of sea anemone is known to do — they were living in the ice itself.

Opening of University of Southern Indiana's Andy Warhol Polaroids and screen prints exhibit.
Video: Miharris & Acphillips.

Marymegan Daly of Ohio State University confirmed the animals were a new species. Named Edwardsiella andrillae after the drilling project that found it, the anemone was described in a PLOS ONE paper last December. Daly gave Wikinews an exclusive insight on how research into these mysterious creatures is developing.

January marked the opening night of an Andy Warhol exhibit at the University of Southern Indiana. USI's art gallery, like 189 other educational galleries and museums around the country, is a recipient of a major Warhol donor program.

The program is cultivating new interest in Warhol's photographic legacy. Student Wikinews reporters attended the opening and spoke to donors, exhibit organizers, and patrons.


A special Wikinews video report on the parliament visit.
Video: Brian McNeil.
  This section mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

In February fifty volunteers, from nine countries covering nineteen languages, spent four days at the European Parliament buildings in Strasbourg photographing and filming members of the parliament (MEPs). This being an effort to significantly increase the audio-visual content available in Wikipedia and other Wikimedia Foundation projects.

Over 1,000 new, high-quality, photographs were taken and uploaded for use on Wikimedia projects during the visit. Once photographed, MEPs were encouraged to make video introductions in languages they were comfortable speaking in. In excess of 200 video clips of MEPs introducing themselves were captured; this providing freely-reusable audio and video records available via Wikimedia Commons.


March saw Russian troops enter Crimea, a territory now disputed between Russia and Ukraine in what has become one of the more prominent and enduring stories of the year. Wikinews interviewed five experts on Russian foreign policy and international law at the start of the conflict.

A Wikinews reporter found himself at the centre of a rail mishap when a ScotRail train travelling from Glasgow to the towns of Oban and Mallaig in Scotland accidentally diverted onto the wrong track. Some passengers initially thought the train had derailed when it swerved and braked hard at Ardlui. Points had to be inspected for damage before the train could continue.


Dr Roth gave an overview of the Sumatran rhino project at USI less than a week after Suci's death.
Video: Rfshipman1.

After the death of the Cincinnati Zoo's female Sumatran rhinoceros, Dr. Terri Roth, the director of the zoo's research facility specializing in propagation, told Wikinews her organization remained committed to the Sumatran rhinos, an animal that is currently listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as critically endangered. The only other Sumatran rhino in the States is male and their native Indonesia has indicated no more will be sent to the US.

Roth told Wikinews the species was "going to be a tough one to save." With only 100 left she outlined what she saw the future as holding for those efforts.

Wikinews was able to verify the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) failed to follow through on threats to picket a Western Australian high school's performance of The Laramie Project. Margaret River Senior High School was able to perform the play based on the 1998 beating and death of gay student Matthew Shepard to a sold-out audience without disruption.

The WBC twice threatened to picket and even posted a photo of a 'protestor' on Twitter, which turned out to be a student performing in the show. The school told Wikinews the WBC did not appear at any time.

Video of Wadewitz discussing Wikipedia's impact.
Image: Vgrigas.
  This section mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

News broke on the morning of April 10 that Wikipedian activist Adrianne Wadewitz had died whilst rock climbing.

Wadewitz was well known in the Wikimedia community for her activism drawing attention to the lack of female contributors on Wikipedia. She was also very involved in the Wiki Education Foundation, serving as a member of its board of directors. Wadewitz was one of the most high-profile women highlighting the under-representation of women amongst contributors to Wikipedia.

The same day Cynthia Ashley-Nelson died whilst attending a Wikimedia Conference in Berlin, Germany.

As as active member of the Wikimedia movement, she was named vice-chair of Wikimedia's Affiliations Committee the day prior to her death, having only having joined the Committee earlier in the year. The day prior, she spent a lot of time talking to a number of the event's attendees and spent time with several members of the Affiliations Committee. She too counted the Wikimedian gender gap amongst her fields of interest.

Glasgow's 420 event, from the far side of the Clyde.
Image: Iain Macdonald.

Coinciding with Easter Sunday, Glasgow Cannabis Social Club's annual 420 event was held on Glasgow Green, under sunny blue skies, and overlooking the river Clyde. Despite the city's council attempting to revoke permission for the gathering at the last minute, police were happy for it to go-ahead with approximately a dozen officers attending. Two Wikinews reporters travelled to Glasgow to cover and photograph the event.


Video from the anti-UKIP protest on Friday, May 9, 2014.
Video: Brian McNeil.

Roughly 300 protesters turned up for the May return of Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party, to Edinburgh after last year's disastrous attempt at a press conference in a pub at the foot of The Canongate. Unseen by protesters or public, Farage is believed to have left the venue around 7:30pm.

Farage's last visit saw protesters leaving him barracked in the bar by police, with several taxis refusing to take the party leader and Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for South East England to the airport. Wikinews was on hand for this year's return, photographing protestors and watching the event unfold.

On Fiestas de San Isidro Labrador in Madrid, Spain, a small protest demanding justice for victims of the Franco regime was held in Puerta del Sol for an hour. The protest started with speakers on a megaphone, and was followed by a march around the plaza several times with the leaders holding a large banner, all while police watched on. Wikinews was on the scene and photographed the protest from start to finish.

An anti-budget protest descended on Brisbane, Australia in response to the previous week's federal budget. Among the speakers at the pre-march rally were Australian Labor Party senator Claire Moore and former Australian Democrats senator — and current Queensland Greens convenor — Andrew Bartlett. Wikinews was at the scene photographing and videoing the protest.


Tourists passing sign advertising Edinburgh's Auld Reekie Tours (Fringe venue 129).
Image: Brian McNeil.

With many venues reporting sell-out shows, the 68th year of the Edinburgh Festival attracted visitors from around the globe. Wikinews' Brian McNeil roamed the city for the four weeks of the event, capturing the colour, spectacle, and comedy, in photos.


As Halloween approached, Wikinews interviewed Kristian Hanson, producer-director of independent slasher film Sledge. The film has been a recent source of discussion in horror fan circles, primarily due to its production budget of only US$800.


A 'Scottish-Anonymous' banner.
Image: Brian McNeil.
Anonymous protesters gathering at Scottish Parliament.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Amongst other Guy Fawkes Night partying, the now-regular march to the Scottish Parliament by Anonymous saw significantly higher attendance at this year's event. With Catalan flags and pro-Independence Saltires flying, activist numbers had clearly been swelled by the referendum result. Scottish voters had rejected independence in September.

Our reporter in Edinburgh was once again on-the-scene to photograph the event.

Wikinews on sport

Wikinews attended a large number of sporting events this year. Several reporters were present at the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi, Russia, successfully producing ten exclusive articles. Mere days before the games began, Wikinews noted rail links remaining open between Russia and Ukraine; although tensions between the countries over the disputed territory of Crimea continued to escalate.

Paralympic flag being raised during opening ceremony.
Image: Laura Hale.

Early-on in the year, Wikinewsie Laura Hale began her Paralympics preparation by interviewing Tina McKenzie, a former member of the Australia women's national wheelchair basketball team, known as the Gliders. McKenzie, a silver and bronze Paralympic medalist in wheelchair basketball, retired from the game after the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London. Wikinews caught up with her in a cafe in the leafy Melbourne suburb of Preston for an extensive interview.

At the Paralympics, with the Russia-Ukraine border still open, opening ceremony preparations were soon underway. Wikinews was at a press conference by International Paralympic Committee President Sir Philip Craven in which he insisted the games should not be politicised amongst talk of boycotts. The Ukrainian delegation ultimately decided not to boycott the Games.

Celebrating victory in Sunshine Coast Rugby Union.
Image: Patrick Gillett.

Once the opening ceremony concluded the Games got started. First up for Wikinews was sledge hockey, with Wikinews attending the narrow Norwegian defeat of the Czech Republic, Canada's comprehensive defeat of Sweden, and the US victory over Italy. Wikinews also witnessed Ukrainian Lyudmyla Pavlenko claim gold in the women's 12km sitting skiing race and an action-packed day of wheelchair curling.

Also attended was the 2014 Women's World Wheelchair Basketball Championship. Our reporter caught up with the event on day five and watched Germany, the Netherlands, Canada and the US reach the semi-finals. Germany and Canada then went through to the closely-contested final which was won by Canada. Wikinews conducted an extensive interview with Australian coach Tom Kyle during the competition.

The Sunshine Coast Rugby Union's 2014 season produced yet more sporting drama, with Wikinews there throughout. Eighteen articles resulted, with exclusive photo and video contributions.