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article imageWikipedia creator fights fake news with volunteer-led journalism

By James Walker     Apr 25, 2017 in Technology
Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales is launching a news site to oppose the spread of fake news by putting fact-checking and neutrality at the heart of each article. The site will use volunteers to check and edit articles written by professional journalists.
Called Wikitribune, the site will launch in a month's time. Wales is currently hiring journalists and attempting to sign people up for the subscription service. Although all the content will be available for free, the lack of ads leaves Wikitribune dependant on its community if it's to continue operating.
As of writing, over 2,000 people have already supported the project, described on its homepage as "evidence-based journalism." According to Wales, Wikitribune will offer factual stories backed by full citations and detailed source references. Members of the public will be able to edit articles to correct claims and improve their accuracy, drawing on the headline feature of Wikipedia.
Supporters will also be able to influence Wikitribune's focus and editorial direction. While it won't be possible to singlehandedly change the site's viewpoint, community members will have a say in the topics that are featured. The community will be a vital component of the site. Without a significant backing, Wikitribune won't be able to operate as intended.
Wales needs people to subscribe to the site so it can grow and expand to include more voices. As the core writing team will be fully paid, the number of subscribers directly impacts the number of journalists hired. Wales is looking to initially employ ten people but told the BBC he'd "love to start with a lot more." As more subscribers arrive, new journalists will be hired to continue Wikitribune's growth.
The Wikipedia co-founder is confident the new site will be a success. From his perspective, growing discontent with the climate of fake news will see demand increase over time. Combined with the separate issue of ad bloat on major news sites, Wales expects digital audiences to be interested in the new approach taken by Wikitribune.
"I think we're in a world right now where people are very concerned about making sure we have high quality fact-based information, so I think there will be demand for this," Wales said to the BBC.
Wales will be remaining with the project for the near future and expects to remain as CEO for at least the next year. He's currently advised by venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki, journalism lecturer Jeff Jarvis and model and actor Lily Cole. Cole created Impossible.com, a social network to allow strangers to express goodwill by exchanging gifts. Wikitribune's website is described as being "powered by Impossible."
Wikitribune will launch in 29 days, according to the countdown timer on the landing page unveiled today. You can sign up now to start supporting the project. The design of the finished website has not yet been revealed but demonstration versions have been shown to members of a select audience.
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