25 August 2008

The goal of Wikinews


I’ve been thinking a bit about Wikinews lately, and about what it should aim for – what its goal should be.

I do not think Wikinews can be a serious contender to the traditional news outlets in the foreseeable future. For that there are just too few people involved with Wikinews. In an ideal world the project would have contributors everywhere, ready to write when something happens in their region. However, as we all know, this world is far from ideal.

Mainstream news is just not what makes Wikinews great – news on the Beijing Olympics and the upcoming US election I can get elsewhere, more complete and more updated.

I believe the goal of Wikinews should be what we could call “alternative” news. News that are interesting, but are not usually reported in traditional media. Stories like the one on Canadian cities wanting to ban bottled water, or the U2 fan who was ordered to destroy his CDs. I believe stories like those are the most important ones for Wikinews.

Of course, Wikinews should not stop focusing on mainstream event – they are producing a lot of good material there as well – but I believe the key to getting more readers to Wikinews is to have stories like those. Unique, interesting stories that people don’t get in their usual news &ndsah; that’s what’s crucial.


llywrch said...

Jon, you may be too pessimistic about Wikinews' future with the mainstream. There is a movement by local US newspapers to dump the AP wire service & replace it with their own networks. One currently in operation is the Ohio News Organization, which includes the Cleveland FreeDealer, The Columbus Dispatch, The Cincinnati Enquirer and The Toledo Blade. Another editor to blog about this development was Stephen Smith of the Spokane Spokesman-Review.

This movement is due to slashing costs -- although a few editors are probably just as frustrated with the partisan hack jobs of AP Washington reporter Ron Fourier as the folks at the Daily Kos website. For many mid-sized newspapers in the US, the cost of keeping an AP feed -- which starts at $400,000/year & goes into the millions for a newspaper -- means cutting reporter jobs.

I think Wikinews could position itself to these newspapers as a free (in both beer & speech) source for international stories that these papers. It would be wise for your project to consider this opportunity.


llywrch said...

Ugh. I botched the link to Daily Kos. It should have pointed here.


Jon Harald Søby said...

That is exciting news, and it does put a new light on what Wikinews should be.

In my post, I was not thinking mainly of the English Wikinews (even though all the examples are from there), because it is doing quite well with regards to mainstream news (but still has a lot of catchign up to do, IMO). I was thinking more of the smaller Wikinews, especially the ones in non-global languages (like Norwegian and Swedish). I think they will struggle more to have the same international depth as other news outlets in the same regions have. But of course, there’s no way to tell that from my post since I probably generalized a bit too much.

Edythe said...

Interesting to know.