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Today, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales launched Wikitribune — an online crowdfunded newspaper looking to combat “fake news.”
According to Wales, media’s move to the internet broke news reporting. Whereas before people paid newspapers to give them the truth, now readers expect content for free, forcing publications to rely on ad revenue. Wales argues that this has derailed news media’s role as truth-tellers.
He also criticises how social media algorithms spoon-feed users what they want to hear to “keep [them] clicking at all costs.”
His remedy is a publication that hires professional journalists to work “side by side as equals” with the community. This team will author, fact-check, and verify articles, much like Wikipedia does already.
Wikipedia’s Wikitribune will aim to fix fake news using the company’s fact-checking and verification methods
According to The Verge, community members will be able to suggest edits, but they will need to be approved by staff members or trusted volunteers before being published.
The articles will clearly display the sources, and journalists will be encouraged to publish evidence like transcripts and audio interviews.
Also like Wikipedia, Wikitribune will be entirely crowdfunded. Though it will be accessible to everyone, those who wish to support the cause can make one-time, monthly, quarterly or annual payments to the site. Currently, the increments for support are US$10, US$40 and US$120 — though there is an option to choose your own price.
The aim is to keep the publication ad-free. In doing so, Wikitribune ensures that the only motivating power for the news is the truth.
But Wales also understands the need to be transparent about where the people’s money is going, and right now, it’s mostly towards hiring journalists. Wikitribune’s goal is ten professionals, but Wales hopes to grow that number soon after launch.
As of writing, just over 1000 people had financially backed the project — and it has one month to meet its as yet undisclosed goal. If it fails, Wales assures all backers will be reimbursed.