Wikinews/Worst cases

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These are possible worst case scenarios for Wikinews.

Scenario 1: not enough contributors[edit]

Wikinews doesn't have enough people writing for it. Events just don't get coverage.

As the proposal states: "Wikinews will already be useful even if we start out by having relatively few original reports - because it will provide free, neutral, aggregated summaries of the news from elsewhere. It will already be useful even if the subject range which we cover will initially be full of gaps - because in these subject areas, we will already benefit from the collaborative wiki model. It can grow to become more useful every day. (...) Even if our articles will initially be few, they will be free, permanently available and not require registration before reading."--Eloquence

Scenario 2: articles are only written about certain areas[edit]

Wikinews becomes "biased", purely due to the areas covered. Wikinews is accused of only caring about certain countries, political parties and views. Even if articles are neutral, if some subjects go for the most part unreported, it won't look good.

This is inevitable, and it is the case for Wikipedia as well. However, if we grow to any reasonable size, it is likely that we have more articles than we can showcase on the Wikinews Main Page anyway. Hence we can use the instrument of article visibility to make sure that readers will be given as unbiased an outlook as possible. If we get 100 stories on the Linux kernel, we can feature them in a Linux section, but we don't have to put them on the Main Page.--Eloquence

Scenario 3: editorial hell[edit]

Too few editors, with too many from a certain viewpoint. Wikinews ends up leaning towards a certain political view, or ends up heavily biased towards western (especially American and European) stories.

This is inevitable, but hardly what I would call "editorial hell". Neutrality is an ideal, it is something which can almost never be fully reached. On Wikipedia, we already cover the news, and there we have contributors from many different political persuasions. I think there will be a slight western bias on en, a slight French bias on fr, and so forth - but I think we can also do a lot better than the mainstream media on this point. The review process should help to filter the most biased stories.--Eloquence

Scenario 4: lack of original content[edit]

Too many people copy content from other sources, the latest news is simply transcripts from rolling news channels.

This is not a worst case scenario - a service which provides free, well-categorized news summaries is still useful on its own. If people just copied in content without editing it, that would be a problem. That's why I want a "no copy and paste" policy very prominently visible on the various contributor pages, and a check on news.google.com et al. for phrases to be part of the review process.--Eloquence

Scenario 5: lack of press access[edit]

Major, huge stories don't get covered due to press access not being granted to Wikinews reporters. Original coverage is restricted to smaller, local news - and not major international events.

We're not in 1995 anymore. Internet media are granted access on a regular basis. The important thing is that we build enough trust and authority to be conceived as something other than a weblog. If any random guy can call themselves a Wikinews reporter, that would be difficult - hence my accreditation proposal on Wikinews/Thinktank. If someone wants to deliberately sabotage us, we can name and shame them.--Eloquence

Scenario 6: too much argument[edit]

Nobody can agree on facts or wording. Articles aren't published quickly enough - just argued about - meaning Wikinews is far behind other news organizations in speed of reporting.

I'm not so worried about speed of reporting, but I am worried that news on controversial subjects effectively never get published because no consensus can be found. Here are two key policies which can help to avoid this: 1) Actionability. Any objections have to be actionable to make the article pass publication - alternatively, you must request deletion, and deletion requires very large agreement. We therefore try to gradually move any article that is remotely salvageable towards being published. 2) Topicality and balance. It's not appropriate to just add in some other, unrelated material in order to add "balance". Stay on topic. If a story, on its own, appears to lead towards a particular conclusion, that alone is not reason enough to not publish it. If there is material related to the subject missing, then you must point it out, and it must be reasonably accessible. 3) Factuality. If facts are reported by external sources, and there is no clear logical contradiction or any dispute about the facts, then we report them with attribution.
The important thing here is that we create a culture of collaboration. I want the Wikinews community to develop a shared identity. I want to prevent factions from arising. It has been suggested that each contributor also be listed on the published article, and that we have some standardized contributor profile. This could be used to disclose possible bias, and to provide a possibility for feedback.--Eloquence