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1 Wikinews: The Next Generation of Online News? Dr Axel Bruns Creative Industries Faculty Queensland University of Technology

2 Wikinews in Context Development of alternative online news sources: Slashdot to Indymedia news-related blogging often driven by disenchantment with mainstream news political and commercial agendas often providing a corrective to mainstream news: additional stories, additional perspectives

3 Gatewatching Some alternative online news builds on gatewatching: gatekeeping is no longer possible gatewatchers watch the gates of news publishers, and highlight, analyse, evaluate, discuss news passing through them this is publicising rather than publishing news gatewatching has effects on mainstream – key stories (Trent Lott, WMD, etc.), incorporating of blogs and user comments in BBC News Online and elsewhere

4 Open News Collaborative, alternative online news: usually open for involvement of users as produsers at all stages of the news process (adapted from Bruns, Gatewatching: Collaborative Online News Production, 2005)

5 Original Alternative News Key role in reporting current events: Indymedia coverage of protests terrorism and disasters (9/11, Iraq invasion, Boxing Day tsunami, London bombs, New Orleans floods) also aided by availability of cameras, camera phones, etc. use of services such as Flickr also increasingly incorporated into mainstream news

6 A Second Tier of News Commentary and occasional first-hand reporting: random acts of journalism (JD Lasica 2003) Realisation of model envisaged by Herbert Gans: a second tier of pre-existing and new national media, each reporting on news to specific, fairly homogeneous audiences devote themselves primarily to reanalysing and reinterpreting the news gathered by the central media, … adding their own commentary and backing these up with as much original reporting … as would be financially feasible multiperspectival news – a conception of alternative news (1980: 318) making a place in the news for presently unrepresented viewpoints … the bottoms-up corrective for the mostly top-down perspectives of the news media (2003: 103)

7 Towards Deliberative Journalism Multiperspectival news allows for deliberative journalism: It would underscore the variety of ways to frame an issue. It would assume that opinions – not to mention majorities and minorities – do not precede public deliberation, that thoughts and opinions do not precede their articulation in public, but that they start to emerge when the frames are publicly shared. (Heikkilä & Kunelius 2002) If contemporary American journalism is a lecture, what it is evolving into is something that incorporates a conversation and a seminar. (Dan Gillmor 2003) dialogic deliberative news coverage is inevitably continuous and unfinished rather than written up and complete

8 Features of Wikinews Mission statement: we seek to create a free source of news, where, provided that we can overcome the digital divide, every human being is invited to contribute reports about events large and small, either from direct experience, or summarized from elsewhere. Wikinews is founded on the idea that we want to create something new, rather than destroy something old. It is founded on the belief that we can, together, build a great and unique resource which will enrich the media landscape. (Wikinews 2005) Proposed in mid-2004, first demo site in December 2004 Multiple language versions (de, se, es, fr, …)

9 Issues in Wikinews Adhering to the Wikipedia Neutral Point of View policy: articles provide synthesis of multiple perspectives, rather than encourage deliberative engagement it's deliberate – opinion or commentary is banned. There are enough blogs already (Wikinews admin Dan Grey, a.k.a. Dan100) also little use of wiki talk pages for discussion (beyond editorial matters) Spatial Wiki structures vs. temporal and hierarchical organisation models: development of Wikinews blog for easy highlighting of latest news difficulties in selecting most relevant and important news

10 Success? Source:

11 Success? Source: (19 Sep. 2005)

12 Successes and Failures Successes: Rapid response especially to 7 July London bombings, Hurricane Katrina disaster, etc. effective aggregation of news reports found elsewhere (through gatewatching) useful integration with background material in the Wikipedia Failures: continuing internal competition with Wikipedia current events section – division of participant base generalist news focus – less attractive for participants than issue- or opinion-focussed sites (e.g. Slashdot, Indymedia) discouragement of news discussion drives users elsewhere – possibly also in their role as produsers of news

13 More Journalistic than Journalists? NPOV adherence and absence of debate: we're not into telling people how they should think – we present the facts, and let them make their own minds up (Wikinews administrator Dan Grey, a.k.a. Dan100) forces participants into traditional style of journalism holds back development of community spirit and sense of communal ownership rules out deliberative journalism approaches promotes synthesis of multiple perspectives rather than multiperspectival engagement with news difference from Wikipedia: encyclopedia content is an end in itself, but news reports are only a means to an end

14 Why Wikinews? What is the purpose of Wikinews? in their zeal for a Neutral Point of View, Wikinews seem to revise the life out of their stories, reducing lively news coverage to dull regurgitation of facts. Devotees of Wikipedia may crave totally unbiased information, but is that what the reading public wants? (Yeomans 2005) Possible alternatives: effective multiperspectival coverage and debate of the news effective integration with the Wikipedia development of journalistic styles beyond conflict-based, self- contained stories development of spatial, networked rather than temporal, hierarchical structures for covering and presenting the news

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