Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales has started a new online operation that will pair paid journalists with volunteers with an eye on beating back the tide of fake news.
Wikitribune, launching April 25, will pay reporters through a crowdfunding campaign. People who contribute to the campaign will in turn be given some say on the topics and stories covered by Wikitribune, which Wales tells The Guardian will cover a range of issues from politics to science.
Volunteer community contributors meanwhile will be able to fact-check and subedit articles, similar to the way Wikipedia is operated.
“This will be the first time that professional journalists and citizen journalists will work side-by-side as equals writing stories as they happen, editing them live as they develop, and at all times backed by a community checking and rechecking all facts,” Wales told The Guardian.
Like Wikipedia, Wikitribune will be free to access for all readers. Wales says he intends to hire the first slate of paid journalists “as soon as possible.” The site is launching with a crowdfunding effort pre-selling monthly support packages to fund those hires, with the first issue coming soon after the initial goal is met.
Wales has been mulling the idea over for months, but cites the Trump administration as inspiring the decision to go ahead with it. “Someone I know convinced me to give Trump 100 days before making my mind up,” he sys, “but then on day one Kellyanne Conway came out and said her ‘alternative facts’ line. That was when I really decided to move forward.”
Wikitribune will operate under parameters designed to emphasize transparency.
Among those policies, journalists working for the site will share full transcripts, video, and audio of interviews with users.