"Our three chief weapons are..."
- "NPOV, NPOV, NPOV"
- -- From "", remix by JoiIto
Wikinews is not Wikipedia!
This is sort of the rallying cry happening at Wikinews. Because of the wild success of Wikipedia, Wikinews has been closely scrutinized by the Citizen and traditional press throughout its development, and this past quarter the community has been something to watch despite being a very different project, with different goals and measures.
Wikinews has been growing. At the beginning of the year there were two editions in the project, now there are 12 languages. A few hundred editors has become more than 3400 registered users, and they compete for productivity and quality of story writing. Within the Wikimedia family the project continues to have impressive growth, with the third largest increase in registered users for the past two months, and the largest growth rate of articles1
Some of the noteworthy events this quarter included both the German and English editions passing 1000 news articles. (English passed 50,000 edits, while German managed to create nearly the same number of articles with half the edits!) One of the important goals of the project is to develop an archive of historical articles which may be used as references by others, including Wikipedia2 3, as a record of world and local events.
Breaking a news story before any major news service was never the goal of Wikinews, but it has happened a few times this past quarter. Tech stories such as Chinese researchers crack major U.S. government algorithm used in digital signatures and MSN Encarta introduces wiki-like enhancements might seem like natural opportunities for Wikinews, but there were also big and small articles which were "firsts". Minuteman bike path iced out through Arlington after 4th snowiest winter on record may not have been a scoop of larger press, but Unrest in Belize was. A range of original articles covered stories not seen in the main stream press, or which incorporated interviews, photojournalism, and research by wikinewsies.
The project continues to generate interest in the journalistic spheres, for example the english edition was featured in articles in Business Week4 and the New York Times5 (requires registration). Critical coverage of the Wikinews project has been of great interest in the project, and has ranged from Simon Waldman's analysis and EditorsWeblog rebuttal to near cheerleading. Overall there is no consistency; some reviewers love the project, some hate it, most have good and bad things to say about it, and it has been picked, panned, and praised.
Members of the Wikinews community have reached out to other journalism efforts as well. en:Jimmy Wales and others attended the Harvard conference Blogging, Journalism & Credibility, which led to organizing an IRC chat conference with bloggers, asking for input from them for Wikinews development priorities. A representative was invited to speak at the International International Symposium on Online Journalism, and similar presentations are being contemplated.
Wikinewsies continue to experiment with the project, adding an extension to the software and creating a first attempt at video news. The Polish language edition reports it is being carried on In-Nocte, an online radio station, which reports their news on Saturdays and Sundays. Members of the project have created a range of software tools as well, including WeatherChecker which retrieves weather data, Wikinews Flickr License Search to search Flickr by license type for images to illustrate stories, and the Wikinewsbot.