Wikinews Foundation/Proposal

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What are Press credentials[edit]

Press credentials are available to accreditted reporters to present to public affairs representatives of a person or entity, or to news event handlers of public spectacles, to assist in having access granted to the reporter so as to gather news and information that is of public interest.

The credentials are issued by the news agency to whom the person reports. They do not say that that the person is employed by, or specifically represents, the news agency. Press credentials are also commonly used by police to determine crime scene access and to quickly identify the person as a reporter.

Some of Europe handles it a bit differently, with the government being the issuer of the press pass. In these countries press passes have very limited validity, but can still be helpful. Many event organizers will still issue event passes, and police will often treat people with organization issued badges as press, even though the credentials have no official/legal status.

Wikinews already issues press credentials, why change?[edit]

The English Wikinews currently issues credentials and has an accreditation policy. Presently, there is a rather awkward arrangement for accrediting users. Users who have gone through the accreditation process are considered community accredited. The lack of any sort of organization behind creates a problem when the events require a letter from the organization before issuing the press pass (the G8 being the most recent), and we have been unable to get the board/foundation to do this or officially approve the accreditation program. The problem with this is in order to obtain press badges and other press benefits a user must either confuse the person (risking the request being denied) with an explanation of how they are not really representing Wikinews but rather the Wikinews Community or they must mislead the person into thinking they really do have "offical" Wikinews press credentials.

We also do not have a proper trademark/logo licensing agreement for the program. We use the logo and Wikinews trademark quite heavily when we are working with the outside world on a story. We lack clear guidance on what is acceptable, letterhead, business cards, e-mail addresses, etc. These uses are very important for passing ourselves off as "real" reporters, but have obvious potential misuses. Proper guidelines establishing who and in what circumstances they can be used are needed.

Why do we need a separate organization[edit]

The Wikimedia Foundation can not safely issue press credentials. It could compromise the Sec. 230 safe harbor protections the Wikimedia Foundation currently has.

The chapters, as well as being limited in coverage area, share the same problem. They could become legally responsibly for the content of Wikinews.

A separate legal entity with minimal assets is the best way to limit the risk.

What this proposal is not[edit]

  • It is not an attempt to split Wikinews from the Wikimedia Foundation – Wikinews benefits greatly from our affiliation with the Wikimedia Foundation. The Wikimedia Foundation is not able to provide press credentials.
  • A general news wiki organization – What can be done on Wikinews will remain on Wikinews, this new organization would only handle what WMF/Wikinews is unable to do, poorly suited for, or faces undue exposure.

Not just for EN Wikinews[edit]

The English Wikinews is the only project with a functioning accreditation process. Other language editions and other WMF projects are forced to use the English Wikinews accreditation process in order obtain credentials. This can be problematic because most users, without a large involvement in the English Wikinews, are regularly denied credentials. At present credentialed users represent the community of the project that issued the credentials. Users who are not involved in that community can not be considered to be in a position to represent the community. A Wikinews Foundation would be able to establish procedures that would allow trusted users regardless of project to obtain credentials. This goes beyond Wikinews and onto Commons where a number of users desire "accredited photographer" status.