Aiming to do to news reporting what Linux did to Sun Microsystems, the Wikimedia Foundation has put up a demo of their new Wikinews service. The service plans to offer news in the same collaborative way by which the WikiPedia encyclopaedia is created.
A process of peer review will create accurate news reporting. Just like with development of open source software, the concept of "many eyeballs" should safeguard against mistakes and shady ethics.
The service certainly has the potential to add to existing news reporting. With large events – take the current political turmoil in Ukraine – citizen reporters can directly tell the story from the streets, adding colour and flavour to the reports by the large press agencies.
Professional reporters however will raise a few eyebrows about the service’s lack of journalistic standards and safeguards. Although the process of peer review will correct mistakes, there is little to ensure those mistakes from showing up in the early stages of a story’s life.
"The incentive for behaviour in a wiki is to write in such a way that your writing can survive," Wiki co-founder Jimmy Wales told Wired News. "The only way it can survive is if your writing is acceptable to an extremely wide audience."
Last time I checked, writing news stories wasn’t a popularity contest but about accuracy, fact checking and informing readers. That’s why publications have publishers who worry about making money and journalists who focus on spending it.
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