Wikinews:Category Portals/Local

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The following is a new style of Wikinews reporting or Wikinews development. It is still in the process of being created. Feel free to pitch in and help develop this idea or comment about it on the discussion page. (Please remove this tag once this page is sufficiently developed)


Please feel free to develop this proposal in any way you see fit, particularly on the technical side. Once developed, it will be moved to the Proposals space.

Portals, Neighbourhoods & Bureaus[edit]

This is a development of many different discussions called variously Portals, Neighbourhoods and Wikibureaus. This proposal combines all three ideas by making use of existing infrastructure, developing communities and developing local reporting.

Wikinews portals could become news homepages for communities: they could be based on regions, groups, schools etc. They would encourage grassroots journalism and bridge the gap between the international main page and community journalism.

Any category can become a Portal which has an editable structure to automatically maintain them. Portal pages also have a talk page, which can function as the local watercooler, and they can have a workspace of their own. Each Portal therefore has the potential to become a mini-Wikinews in its own right while also feeding stories to the main page. Portals differ from a community or wikicity in that users would be expected to uphold NPOV policies, though original reporting and photography would be encouraged and it would be accepted that news about, say, a school football club’s news would be written about that club without necessarily seeking the view of the opposing club.

The {{Original reporting}} template addresses the issue of community members writing about activities they are directly involved in which don't necessarily have any other sources. Although the communities would still help develop such stories, the tag helps explain that such stories are not necessarily 'journalism' in the traditional sense but are citizen reporting in the new sense.

How it would work[edit]

The advantage of linking Portals with already existing categories is that we don't have to build up a large amount of communities to make the project viable. We can switch to the new system and then draw attention to those that become active, but as the infrastructure is already there, people could simply make their presence known on portal pages they relate to and link with others without necessarily setting up a fully functional neighbourhood or bureau.

There will be three levels of activity:

  • The first level will be the simple category page, with latest stories from that category, with the capacity to have conversations on the discussion page, add photos etc as is already being done on some pages. We would hope that increasing numbers of users turn each portal into a more lively page than just an automated category.
  • The second level will be when users of a portal form an organised community, editing each other's articles and making use of resources such as advice sheets to bring in new users. Communities will have to be inclusive of all users, but the most likely viable model will be is if a group of individuals in the real world decide to make real use of the portals to create their own news neighbourhoods. They would preferably have one or more recognised ‘leaders’ to keep an eye on them and for new users to turn to. These developed portals should be promoted and encouraged by the Wikinews community as a whole and it would not be for ‘outsiders’ of each neighbourhood to comment on newsworthiness etc, each neighbourhood would be largely autonomous.
  • Level three provides one way of recognising commitment and professional reporting by awarding portals WikiBureau status. This will be conferred by consensus when a community is very highly developed, has produced a high level and quality of news (not necessarily of world interest) which showcases Wikinews policies and shows a track record of training and developing citizen journalism. WikiBureau status could help these developed groups to gain accreditation at local events and could potentially be useful in applying to local businesses for equipment or funding.

A few editors will need to be willing to keep an eye on the neighbourhoods to ensure that it remains a Wikinews site in essence, to weed out added content that is incredibly out of date (for example community leaders that have become inactive) and give help and encouragement to new ones.

Topic categories could become Portals in the same way. Topic Portals will nurture the talent of writers in particular specialisms. As well as following news in particular topics as they do now, Topic communities will be able to collaborate to improve the coverage of topics they are interested in. They could be awarded Bureau status in the same way for a track record of good stories in their field.

Benefits[edit]

  • The neighbourhoods would attract people to Wikinews, giving them a 'safe space' in which to start writing and empower them to create original news.
  • It would positively promote the creation of local news by giving small areas/groups a proper developed homepage.
  • If someone wants to report on the fast-rising mallard population on the local pond, that would be just fine. When a major gas explosion suddenly goes off down the road, Wikinews would hear about it first.
  • Editors of the neighbourhoods may wish to create user accounts for members and train them in using the site: giving physical instruction is a much preferred way than online guidelines for many people so we would have little nodules of trained Wikinewsies springing up all over the world. Hopefully.

Technical[edit]

The [Wikinews:Portal|Portal proposal} has in-depth instructions on turning a normal category page into a Portal. This gives a standard framework to build portals. If a community forms around a particular location or topic then the different ideas here can be used to maintain those communities and encourage them.

Use of templates to automate categorization[edit]

In the instance of commonly covered localities, a wiki template may be created, similar to Template:Publish that would automatically insert the appropriate categories into the article.

Workspaces[edit]

The Portal templates provide users with an automatic input-box which automatically adds the relevant category, but if a more comprehensive workspace is required then the Quaker's workspace provides a suggested model with its own style sheet, community sign-up area and develop/publish areas. These use the SpecialDevelop and SpecialPublish categories which keep the story inside its own portal - if someone wants to submit the story to the main page, they simply add Develop or Publish to propagate it to the main page.

Added features[edit]

Pages would be flexible like a userspace but the basic structure could include:

  • welcome message and neighbourhood info
  • Latest headlines, including headlines from the main site that are of interest to the neighbourhood
  • Member usernames
  • Advice for new members wishing to submit news
  • News submission box (Example on the Quaker page)

Fully sourced and well written articles can also be considered for inclusion on the main page

Editors of these sites could make use of resources such as tipsheets to turn the headlines into a PDF and distribute them round their villages, colleges etc or the site could be used as a repository for paper publications and more chatty community websites or for ‘latest news’ pages on other websites which would not always be as easy to edit by all members of a group.

Promotion[edit]

On the main page, we would rotate attention round the communities in the same way as the Country of the Week and we could encourage development of stories to the extent where they can be published on the main page (can they have tags for ‘publish’ as well as remaining on their page?).

We could also promote and reward good writing, drawing good writers into the main Wikinews.

There are many potential publications that would benefit from this sort of news-gathering and approaching the community groups that run them could be one way to encourage development of communities. For example, ClareWhite works for a Quaker magazine. A portal for Quakers would be a good place for Quakers to submit and read news about their own community and some of it could be used in the magazine. We, like student newspapers, already run a form of citizen journalism (since 1843 in fact!) with unpaid contributors and a Wikinews page would give us a much better framework for gathering news.

Importantly, news stories could be compiled in the collaborative, consensual way of Wikinews. At the moment we run articles from people who send them to us and people lose trust in us if they think we are only giving one side. Wikinews gets round the problem of neutrality partly by inviting everyone to put the different sides of the story, with strict standards on sources and evidence to back up statements made. Giving open access to the draft of a story and inviting readers to make additions - stating their part in the story to the editor but potentially making anonymous contributions to the editor by email - could result in collaborative, balanced articles where all points of view are represented rather than the different sides having their say in different editions.