|This is a draft for a possible guideline. It is discussed on the collaboration page, but hasn't been proposed for promotion to any official status.|
DRAFT FOR NEW GUIDELINE
- The following text is intended to be shaped into an unambiguous guideline against a common failing of newcomers; namely "casual plagiarism".
Wikinews has a clear, and unambiguous, policy on copyright. That, in and of itself, is of little use where contibutors consider casual use of synonyms, or rough word-reordering holds as a defence against allegations of plagiarism. It is, frankly, nothing of the sort.
On-project, the growing concerns of mainstream media over bloggers, and social media sites, lifting from their work has even been reported upon:
- "Associated Press goes after bloggers for copyright violation" — Wikinews, June 25, 2008
Yes, this makes contributing synthesis articles to Wikinews considerably more difficult. Nobody said writing on Wikinews would be easy. However, those with longer contribution histories can, and will, attest that a productive contribution history article-wise may allow you to shave a couple of years off an Honours degree in journalism.
What you can, and can not, copy is significantly more constrained than in the "blogosphere"; but, Wikinews is not a blog. At its simplest, it is a place to learn the craft of journalistic writing. Such, is nothing like the encyclopedic style of Wikipedia, nor the casual, reflective, style of a personal blog. Yet, within the journalistic form there is scope for creativity.
- You can stamp your own style onto interviews. Set the scene, then let the answers to questions tell the story.
- You can write with pace, for sports coverage (avoid the clichés)
- You can pick the surface off a story every mainstream publication has done with some crafty original research
- Or, you can join-the-dots archive research.
As a project, Wikinews offers scope for intelligent, creative, and thought-provoking writing.
Yet, contributing is also made more challenging by the constraints of the neutral point of view policy.
- Within reason, you must give a, possibly time-constrained, right to reply.
- You may rage at "corporate stonewalling"; yet, it will only be broken down when it - repeatedly - leaves them with mud in their eye.
- You might think news is easy. If so, you're deluding yourself.
Never, ever commit the sins of plagiarism or copyright violation. As part of the new fourth estate, Wikinews must remain beyond reproach. No casual copying, no half-assed rephrasing; make the story your own, within all the other straight-laced project constraints.
Wikipedia will, in all probability, live on beyond the parent Wikimedia Foundation. For Wikinews to do the same, its up-and coming reporters must show outstanding integrity, and a dogged determination to tell the story in their own words.
If you have been pointed at this essay, someone thinks you're creating writings on-project like an essay submission the night before it's due. Time to up your game. Time to learn that the style is not the same. Time to question the ingrained preconceptions of news that your little box-'o-infotainment in the corner throws at you 24/7.
And, closing on that copyright violation or plagiarism point,... Can you afford a million-dollar lawsuit? It won't be the Wikimedia Foundation they're after. Just Little. Old. You. The one who copied what they shouldn't.