The importance of Wikinews having quality articles should be evident to all. Quality articles give readers a reason to come here, and editors a sense that they are doing something valuable. They can also bring new people here as high quality articles may be posted to blogs and message boards around the Net. Right now most articles being produced are basically stubs that add little over what is done by a variety of other sources. While some would say that quality will come in time with more people, I say let's look for ways to create quality articles now.
So I propose that Wikinews should feature In-Depth Articles. They are called In-Depth Articles to signify that they will not be just regular articles. The goal of such an article will be to provide information beyond what is found in typical news stories. They will include more context, background information, and analysis than what is found in regular stories - more like articles found in weekly news magazines such as Time or Newsweek.
To make something like this work, it will be vital to add a section to the top of the main page linking to the current In-Depth Article, and probably also the previous one which should be a complete, well written article. In fact this is the whole reason for writing up this proposal in the first place - to create support for adding a section to the main page. Having such a section will be important for two reasons:
- To generate awareness about the current article so more people will contribute to it. After all, to succeed, there have to be a reasonable number of people contributing each week.
- These articles will most likely be the most well written on Wikinews, and therefore should be the first thing people see when they come here.
There would most likely be a new In-Depth Article selected each week, with people voting on what the new article will be.
Response to Criticism
I believe the main criticism will be that after a week of voting, and a week of writing the article, the topic written about will be obsolete - it may look bad to have an "old" story on the top of the front page. And for many types of stories this would be true. But this will be taken into account when choosing the topic to write about, and only the kind of articles that remain relevant for a while will be chosen. For example, here are some of the kinds of article that might be good to write about if we were to choose an article today:
- An in-depth look at Bush's proposal for Social Security reform, educating people on the problems facing social security, what the proposal will accomplish, and debunking some of the talking points and propaganda of each side.
- An honest, non-partisan look at the problems surrounding the Presidential election, the shady tactics employed by both Democrats and Republicans, and the issues surrounding electronic voting.
- Add more examples...
And again, one just has to look to weekly news magazines as a successful model to follow, as they too do not rely on being the first to break a story, but instead write articles that remain relevant by the time the magazine comes out.
What other criticism is there that needs to be addressed?
Many of the articles we produce are written largely by a single person. But if this is all we wanted to accomplish, we could have set this site up as a blog. It is a wiki for a very good reason. The advantage of a wiki is that we can work together to produce articles that truly seek to educate and inform people. It's time we take advantage of this.