Wikipedia Founder Has 'Radical' Solution to Fight Fake News
Jimmy Wales' Wikitribune combines pro journalists with community volunteers
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 25, 2017 9:12 AM CDT
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales sits in a conference room at his office on Dec. 1, 2006, in St. Petersburg, Fla.   (AP Photo/Steve Nesius)

(Newser) – "The news is broken and we can fix it." That's the lofty promise of Wikitribune, a new "living, breathing tool" launched by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales that he hopes will combat "fake news" by teaming ace journalists with citizen volunteers. "I'm not sure that anyone's ever been as radical" in coming up with an idea for "sustainable community journalism," Wales tells the Guardian, explaining the volunteers will help write, fact-check, and flesh out articles on a range of topics without "chasing clicks." The site—looking to initially hire 10 or so reporters before its first issue—will be ad-free (and free for readers), and Wales is crowdfunding to raise money to pay reporters. Donors will have a say in its direction, including what articles will appear. "It was when Kellyanne Conway said 'alternative facts' and I was just like 'f--- it ... we have to do something about this," Wales tells Wired.

The site uses the Wikipedia model, displaying sources—meaning "you can make up your own mind," without facts that are tainted by bias, taken out of context, or "just plain … made-up," per the site. Wales tells the Guardian that Wikipedia itself is "not a perfect place," but he adds it also hasn't been overrun by fake news. "If there is any kryptonite to false information, it's transparency," Wales recently wrote in the Guardian. A Dutch site has ventured into similar crowdsourcing. An American University professor tells Nieman Lab that Wikitribune could succeed because it's a hybrid and because of its "narrow domain." But Nieman Director Joshua Benton tells the BBC that "I have a hard time seeing this scale up" and that "another 10 to 20 people are not going to 'fix the news.'" (HuffPost UK wonders if anyone will read it.)

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