Wikipedia cofounder Jimmy Wales is waging a war against fake news with a new online publication called Wikitribune, financed by a crowdfunding campaign.
Fake news are among the most frustrating issues of our day, and they seem to persist despite notable efforts to counter them. The Wikitribune project will rely on a team of professional journalists and a community of readers to create and publish quality news stories.
The crowdfunding campaign for Wikitribune is launching today, and the online publication will focus on various topics of interest, ranging from technology matters to specialists science, U.S. politics, and more.
Wikitribune Dedication To Facts
According to Wales, Wikitribune will be dedicated to facts and will clearly list the sources for each story so that readers know where the news comes from. Journalists will also share various materials, including audio recordings and transcripts of interviews.
"Wikitribune is news by the people and for the people," says Wales.
Talking to The Verge, Wales further explains that such a project has been on his mind for quite some time now, but it became more pressing in light of the post-Brexit and post-Donald Trump news frenzy.
"There's a feeling things have gone wrong," Wales tells The Verge. "The quality of media has declined in many areas — not all areas — and there's a real desire by the public for something more serious and more reliable."
For starters, Wikitribune is seeking to hire 10 professional journalists to work together with community members who will help copyedit and fact-check articles. Any reader will be able to suggest potential edits to a story, but a staff member or a trusted Wikitribune volunteer will have to approve those edits before they go live.
Wikitribune will be ad-free and will not feature any paywalls to limit access. Wales highlights that struggling to get noticed online has taken a toll on the quality of news, but offering an ad-free experience means that Wikitribune will not rely on clicks to survive and suck up to advertisers.
Wikitribune Subscriptions And Perks
Interested customers will be able to sign up for a monthly subscription to Wikitribune that will cost roughly $c. By getting a paid subscription, readers will have influence on what news the site covers, suggesting topics they want to read more about. Such suggestions could refer either to specialist coverage or local news, provided there are enough funds to find a reporter in a specific area.
According to Wales, this model will have no bearing on the site's neutrality, as all news stories will go through the same standards of transparency and fact checking. Wales is confident that quality speaks for itself, and word of mouth will play an important role, so Wikitribune will not need social media optimization. He further points out that Wikipedia is among the most popular sites in the world, and it has never paid anything for advertising.
For now, the first step for Wikitribune is to raise funds and hire professional journalists. The site will cover English news at first, but Wales believes it could quickly expand to cover other languages as well, such as German.
The main goal, however, remains to promote good quality journalism to combat fake news.