To the crew here on Wikinews,
My offers to help track down the source of the daily vandalism on this site have been rebuffed or politely ignored. Combined with the other issues that have limited my participation on Wikinews, I decided to contemplate whether it made sense to continue as a regular contributor.
Here are the components I believe are necessary for a successful citizen journalism site:
- uses all technical and legal measures necessary to suppress vandalism (all other issues on a site are moot if it is unable to control the appearance of its front-facing pages)
- How does it look these days?
- accepts alternative viewpoints, even when they are controversial (NPOV probably prohibits this)
- See your point on editorials, below. Does this have to affect articles as well?
- hosts a "fair use" or "editorial use only" image repository (incompatible with "everything must be free"?)
- Fair use images can now be uploaded here.
- offers a Chinese language version to get around China's state-controlled media (probably not possible without risking the Chinese Wikipedia)
- hosts attributed editorials, as well as culture and entertainment reviews, to provide a human face to the site (definitely not possible without violating NPOV)
- A fine idea, not at odds with the Wikinews concept. Has there been a good editorial column attempt so far?
- video reporting in all popular video formats (not compatible with the prohibition against using file formats with patents)
- This may be possible right now in MPEG, since Theora is still tentative, but content that's goig to be kept for a while should probably be reencoded later once Theora is more solid and better-supported.
Most of these goals are at odds with Wikinews (or the Wikimedia Foundation), no two ways about it.
- Aside from the "accepts alternative, controversial viewpoints" goal [presumably you mean in articles, without attribution], which I think can be addressed by having editorials, all of these goals seem achievable within Wikinews. Just my two cents... but I'm very glad you made these points here. Sj
It's time for me to find a new home to pursue my particular brand of citizen journalism.
- Where did you go?? :)
This was not a snap decision. I recognized that I was on the wrong track when my lame attempts at "original reporting" were limited to rehashing the Wendy's chili finger incident to avoid getting entangled in NPOV infighting. Even when I went out into the field for that story, I was still rewriting news stories written by other reporters and not reporting anything truly original.
Wikinews has been a great learning experience, but it's time for me to grow and pursue authentic original reporting that is a bit more serious than my previous efforts.
My hat is off to the regular contributors at Wikinews who have shown their dedication to the goals of this project. Keep up the great work!
To Ilya and Eloquence - you've helped me to learn so much I have a special debt to repay to you. I still plan to develop a simple "map" extension, for earthquakes, fires, explosions, and other breaking events, which I will submit to the MediaWiki developers once I have it working. And I'll keep the WeatherBot running until it can be rewritten as a server-side control, or someone else volunteers to keep it running on their own machine.
To the developers - even though I have decided to move on, my offer still stands to help you catch the vandal who has taken to defacing this site on a daily basis. I volunteer to write letters to service providers, help to get a court subpoena or a warrant, or find the appropriate law enforcement agencies to help Wikinews fight back. To the naysayers who think it's hopeless - I don't care if this criminal is using dial-up, open relays, web cafes, or a laser bouncing off the moon - anyone can be traced if enough of a stink is raised with the owners of every IP address he is using. This vandal is deluding himself if he thinks he can't be traced. Give me a list of those IP addresses and the exact UTC time (to the minute) they were used, and we can get results.
Wikinews will continue to be a great resource for many reasons - my leaving will just be a minor blip now that there are so many contributors. I just don't fit in here, so it's time for me to go.
Thanks for all the news!
San Jose, California
May 7, 2005
P.S.: Here are some links to articles about Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist, brainstorming with former San Jose Mercury writer Dan Gillmor, founder of Grassroots Media Inc, about their take on the citizen journalism movement:
- Rachel Konrad. "Craigslist.org Founder Eyes Journalism" — , May 6, 2005
- "Craiglist 'open source news'" — , May 6, 2005
It doesn't look like Craigslist or Grassroots Media is ready to launch a citizen journalism site this week, but these quotes from the article made me think:
"...(Newmark) believes the reason why newspapers are losing circulation is that too many traditional journalists are willing to quote politicians and business executives even if they're blatantly lying - merely for the sake of perceived objectivity. He'd prefer an 'open source' model of journalism where legions of volunteers act as writers, assignment editors and fact checkers to challenge mainstream journalists."
"People are looking for attitude and guts in reporting - not full-on gonzo journalism, but hey, tell us what you think," said Newmark.
P.P.S.: Alan - your check is on the way!