Jimmy Wales, the co-founder of the online non-commercial encyclopedia Wikipedia, is planning to launch a news service to combat the extensive distribution of intentionally misleading information posing as news. The venture, Wikitribune, will be a hybrid model in which professional journalists will work with a wide network of community contributors to produce “fact-checked, global news stories”. The goal here is to counter the cancer of fake news with authentic and unbiased articles.
This platform is intended to be free from advertisements and it will have free content. It shares many features with Wikipedia, including the necessity for the writers to enlist all the sources of information and a trust in the public to modify the content to keep it accurate. However, while anyone can edit the contents of an article, they will be published online only after the approval from a trusted community volunteer or a staff member. Another considerable dissimilarity is that although the core team of correspondents will be paid, there might be cases in which a draft is initially written by a volunteer and then later edited by a staff member.
The business model will be community driven. The funding will come in the form of monthly subscriptions by communities which will hire the journalists. How this model will function is that communities of interest will finance the professional journalists to cover news in an area of their liking. Thus, subscribers will be able to suggest the news sections that they want Wikitribune to engage in.
Mr. Wales clarified that he is convinced that the advertising-based model currently used by the majority of the media leads to click-baits which lower the standards. He told the BBC, “I think we’re in a world right now where people are very concerned about making sure we have high-quality fact-based information, so I think there will be demand for this. We’re getting people to sign up as monthly supporters and the more monthly supporters we have the more journalists we can hire.In terms of minimums, if we could only hire two journalists then it would be a blog and not really worth doing.But I would love to start with a lot more – 10 to 20.”
This initiative by Mr.Wales to tackle fake news is a welcome step especially when prominent web news sources including Google and social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter have been severely criticized over the spread of hoax news stories on their platforms. Various declarations have been made by Google and Facebook about refining their algorithms and other tools that track such content. But it is no denying the fact that in all likelihood human beings will have to be involved along the line and this is exactly what Wikitribune offers with its community driven model. If this model sustains top notch reporting then people may have some respite from the fraud content doing the rounds on popular social media sites and web news sources.
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