Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2017/Sources/New York City, NY strategy salon with media experts - June 20, 2017

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On June 20, 2017, the Wikimedia Foundation brought together an esteemed group of media experts and practitioners in New York City to discuss the future of Wikipedia and the Wikimedia movement. Over dinner, a three-hour conversation unfolded. The conversation was  facilitated by Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director Katherine Maher, and the guiding question for the evening was “How do you see the future of trust relationships with your information and what are you doing to prepare?”

Attendees[edit]

Key Insights[edit]

  1. The  commercial needs of news media organizations mean that they are dependent to some extent on playing to base human impulses to get online readers.
  2. There is a struggle in newsrooms about the expectations and obligations for news media companies when it comes to ensuring objectivity and truth. No clear answers have yet emerged.
  3. It seems clear that technology trends will dictate Wikipedia will have to change the way it’s knowledge is delivered. How this happens  will be tremendously important for Wikipedia’s future.

Conversation Notes[edit]

The March of Technology[edit]

  • How will automation affect the work that the media does?  That Wikimedia does? How do you keep the human aspect in the newsroom?
  • Voice: the advantages and drawbacks of a publication/media outlet having one highly cultivated voice versus a diversity of voices.  How does that change affect the trust of the consumer?  In the case of the New York Times, it’s contributed to a loss of trust.
  • Wikipedia is written in one voice. The diversity comes in based on what topic you choose to write about.
  • Bad information on the internet is like a car accident -- because we slow down and look, bots assume we want more of that kind of information.  
  • The commercial needs of for-profit media outlets mean that they have to behave in some respects like a car accident in order to make money and survive.
  • The medium of podcast, and especially the ability of the consumer to hear the human voice of the caster, seems to build trust.  
  • The value of explaining the news, not just telling it.

Decline in Trust in Media[edit]

  • Trust has been declining for decades
    • Who changed?  The media or consumers?  
    • Will the populace eventually decide that no media information can be trusted on it’s face?
    • Are we in a period of reversion back to mean from WWII?
  • Transparency has replaced objectivity.  
    • It’s not enough just to show, “here’s how the story was made.”  It’s also essential to show how the process used to create the story could be improved.
  • Professionalism and Civility has been disrupted
    • How do we create more civil commenting systems?
  • Expectations of Objectivity and Trust
    • In this new era of mistrust, the media industry is figuring out who is most responsible for objectivity.  Should we expect readers to be objective? Or is the media outlet expected to be objective on their behalf?  
    • Hot trust versus cold trust, and the media shifting from being cold trust to hot trust
      • Cold Trust: Implicit trust - consumers simply expect that your product or service will work
      • Hot Trust: Earned trust - consumers are skeptical, check you before they trust you
    • Media companies are increasingly trying to build trust with their readers, and then build on it
    • Today, some journalists and outlets are asking themselves, “Is it my/our responsibility to build trust only with my/our own audience?  Or with all media consumers?
    • Should we just give people as much objective information as possible and let them make up their minds.  
    • Is there a way to scale trust in the media?

Digital & Media Literacy[edit]

  • We need to to develop a more interdisciplinary approach to how we teach and learn media literacy. It will need to factor in both digital literacy and emotional literacy.  
  • It shouldn’t be up to Facebook or your phone or any platform to decide what is important or real.  It’s up to the consumer.  
  • Decreased media literacy has meant that readers are not questioning their sources, using their own judgement, and making decisions for themselves.  They’re outsourcing these decisions to platforms and corporations.  
  • Passive v. Active consumption (and creation!) of media and Wikipedia
  • Wikipedia as a refuge in an age of overload, but can it stay that way?
  • If the volunteers on Wikimedia projects can continue to do an excellent job of deciding what’s important (notable) and giving us a record of what’s verifiably true that would be great.
  • Data is now knowledge.  Wikipedians sort through the data and curate it, until it becomes knowledge.
  • In order to maintain and increase Wikipedia’s prominence, does WP need to think about how we express the values of the organizations in another way?
  • Looking forward, the delivery platform of Wikipedia’s knowledge will change.  Will the platform be recognized as “Wikipedia” or “Wikimedia”?  And if not, how will intermediation of WPs content affect the trust of readers?

Written Feedback[edit]

“Distribution and design is critical for knowledge creation and sharing.” - Margarita Noriega

“Be an independent, non-commercial entity, that can push back against consolidation in the tech world. And appreciate your role as a facilitator of content creation” - Noam Cohen

“Diverse groups make better decisions and lead to more trust — trust is critical to Wikimedia future.” - Craig Minassian

“Letting more people know that you are a non-profit/foundation, protecting free speech and the free flow of information and the revisionist history.” - Manoush Zomorodi

“Trust in Wikipedia rests on the processes and the powerful results of them (that information on Wikipedia is so often there and correct) - but established processes can make it hard to innovate on the process itself; however, Wikipedia has a unique opportunity build on its technology, user base, and culture to innovate in collaborative decision making and distributed trust. This is what I'm most excited when I think of the future of Wikipedia.” - Lucas Dixon