First forays into Wikinews

Spent a bit of time over the weekend looking at Wikinews, the wiki based news source from the same Foundation as Wikipedia.

Wikipedia works because it's an encyclopedia, and therefore a repository for all knowledge about everything, which means it's very easy for people to contribute because you just think 'what do I know about?' and then plug in those bits of knowledge you think appropriate. It's so open ended that you can even just write about the park round the corner from where you live.

Wikinews, on the other hand, is trying to be something completely different. Because it's not trying to be comprehensive, like Wikipedia, there's an aim instead to write interesting, relevant and well-written articles. Unlike Wikipedia, articles don't grow and grow as more and more facts are added. Instead the articles are time-sensitive and so the focus is always on writing about new stuff that's happening.

There's currently far less people editing Wikinews than there are on Wikipedia, and most articles are simply rewrites of several other news sources. If the project takes off and develops a real critical mass though, it could become more interesting than Wikipedia.

Opportunities to better report breaking news will come up as more people familiar with the project find themselves in the middle of a news scene. There's some good info on how to contribute breaking news and even an experimental hotline on which people can phone in entries. You might argue that people would be more likely to call the major news networks, but if the site takes off, then the networks would monitor wikinews and could use the audio clips under the terms of the license anyway.

Not all stories can be reported by people who happen to be there, of course. There are plenty of cases where its only the journalists who actively travel to the story that can report it. Perhaps the site will eventually be able to sustain some paid reporters though, paid a modest salary via the donations to write news stories for the public domain.

For now though, I published my first story about the Ariane 5 rocket postponement...