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Jimmy Wales, the founder and face of Wikipedia, has embarked on a mission to combat the spread of fake news. His solution to the problem is Wikitribune, an online platform pairing professional journalists with a community of ordinary people. Ordinary people who’ll fund the whole project.
Fake news is news that’s either entirely fictional, created purely for clicks, or framed in such a way as to push a certain narrative. Oftentimes there’s a kernel of truth at the heart of fake news, but it’s manipulated by journalists in such a way that this truth is hidden behind layers of bullshine.
What Is Wikitribune?
Wales claims that news, and the way we consume it, is fundamentally broken. He suggests that the internet is to blame for this; partly because advertising now funds the reporting of news, and partly because social networks continually confirm our biases. Thus, the facts are distorted.
Wikitribune is an online news platform where journalists work with the community to produce evidence-based journalism. The journalists hired by Wikitribune will be required to produce news stories “based on facts that they can verify,” with the community keeping them in check.
Anyone and everyone will be able to read the stories appearing on Wikitribune. There will also be no advertising. Instead, the journalism and other costs will be paid for by donations, either one-off payments or monthly contributions. Monthly supporters will be able to suggest topics.
Wikitribune has launched a crowdfunding campaign to get started, with the aim being to hire 10 journalists. Once the money starts rolling in, the journalists will work on producing news stories Wales clearly feels will be of a higher quality than most now being published online.
The Wikipedia Problem
Wikitribune seems to be a good idea. After all, it seeks to reconnect journalists with the people they’re meant to be working for. However, maintaining neutrality will be a challenge, as will keeping the whole funded. Both of which are problems Wales’ Wikipedia has experienced.
What do you think of Wikitribune? Is it a good idea that’s likely to succeed? Or a non-starter thanks to the need for continual funding? Is it going to prove difficult finding unbiased journalists willing to only uncover the truth? Please let us know in the comments below!
Image Credit: Sam Saunders via Flickr