WikiTribune: Drying up the news

They set out to find a way to raise the trust people have in journalism. WikiTribune’s solution lies in community-based news.

WikiTribune’s goal is everything but modest. “Don’t panic, we are here to save the world,”co-founder Orit Kopel pronounced on Thursday at the presentation WikiTribune: The news is broken, and we can fix it. Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, and she had launched a news platform past October, applying a similar crowd-based spirit as the popular encyclopedia is based on.

They hired journalists – 12 up to now but with the plan to rapidly expand – to write stories that will in the following be fact-checked, corrected and improved by the community. News from everyone for everyone is their motto. The community’s suggestions will then get to an employee of the site controlling what will go online, meaning that journalists will keep the responsibility what happens to their story. This will add the necessary backbone to their project, so the plan.

Also, WikiTribune’s aims to be as factual as possible. Their way to put that into practice means to offer very dry news. “Currently when I see the news I feel like they are feeding me what to think”,Kopel says. On Wikipedia you get the facts, same will be the case for WikiTribune. Just with current affairs.

The main problem WikiTribune wants to solve is the lack of trust people have into journalists and mainly spot the trigger of the problem in journalism shifting online and the thereby increased influence of advertisers, as well as the DNA of social media to do everything to keep people clicking. To regain the trust of the audience, the platform’s founders want to “rethink the gatekeeper” and make the process of newsgathering completely transparent. The public will stop wondering  how the editorial choices are made according to Kopel. The first step, to again build up a good relationship between journalists and the community, would be that the media starts to trust the community.

The decision, which story to investigate would be community driven. The journalists would be activated by the audience. Currently, that means an investigation into cryptocurrency.

In a next step, WikiTribune aims at taking the project to the local level. “People are striving to have their neighbourhoods covered, their city hall, if you have corruption in their city hall. Currently you don’t have enough investigative journalism focusing on that” Kopel says. At the moment, they are talking to local NGOs to set up the necessary structures. This will be starting in the UK and US, as Wales and Kopel are best connected in these countries. Gradually, however, the aim is to expand to other parts of the world, specifically developing countries, aiming to fill the gaps of information exchange in many places.

They are saying goodbye to the concept individual by-line. Stories should be community-owned, WikiTribune believes.