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Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales Creates WikiTribune to Combat Fake News


WikiTribune is a new and unique news platform founded by Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia. It’s designed to counter the proliferation of fake news by bringing journalists together with a community of volunteers. The goal is to provide fact-based articles that are impactful, but that can easily be verified and even improved upon, much like the content in Wikipedia.

It’s addressing the problem that’s evolved with the proliferation of the Internet and online advertising. We used to pay for our news by buying newspapers and magazines, which in turn paid for journalists. But we’ve moved to the web where we get much of our news for free, supported by online advertising. That advertising has encouraged articles that are designed to get our attention and clicks to benefit the advertisers, rather than well-researched articles. As a result, real news organizations are competing with low budget pseudo news sites that offer articles that are often inaccurate or worse.

WikiTribune is designed to work like Wikipedia, which involves public participation. Wikipedia is essentially an up-to-date online encyclopedia that allows entries to be created, edited, and corrected by most anyone. The site has over 5 million articles in English and a total of 40 million in nearly 300 languages. That’s equivalent to about 1000 books, each 1200 pages in length.

WikiTribune uses the public to augment the stories, based on citable sources. Stories published in WikiTribune will only be those in which the facts can be verified and with the sources disclosed. The site will have no ads, so there will be no incentive to write stories to get advertising clicks. News will be offered on the website and the stories can be freely shared.

WikiTribune, a non-profit, is now looking for support from the community to hire 10 journalists and is conducting a crowdfunding campaign on its website. Wales writes:

In order to deliver on our promise, we need people who care about good journalism. People like you. Support us in our mission to bring you transparent facts and we’ll build something constructive, something which outwits the prevalence of untrustworthy news sources.

By donating to our campaign, you’ll play a critical part in an energetic surge towards media honesty. It’s a movement that we believe will eventually obliterate low-rent, unreliable news for good. We want to raise enough money up front to get us started – but we need your regular commitment to make sure we can keep improving and delivering on giving you real news.

Jimmy Wales spoke about his new initiative on Quora, an online forum.

He explained that WikiTribune is different from other news platforms in two ways. First, is that WikiTribune will have paid journalists working side by side with community members as equals, and performing such tasks as interviews, fact checking, and editing. Second, there will be no advertising that could influence the integrity and quality of the stories.