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Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales wants to bring together unpaid volunteers and journalists to create a rival news publication—dubbed Wikitribune—that he hopes will battle “fake news” more effectively than long-established newspapers.
Volunteers are encouraged to contribute funds to the project via a crowdfunding campaign. They will then shape the topics that Wikitribune will cover as well as offer up fact checking duties—again, the work of a typical newsroom.
“If we have a community guiding the work and we have people who are paying to be monthly supporters we can do the numbers and say, well for this many monthly supporters we can hire another journalist,” Wales told Wired. “Which means if a group wants us to hire a journalist on a particular topic, whatever that might be, then we can do that.”
Earlier this month Wales incorporated a new firm, Jimmy Group Ltd, with the UK’s Companies House. A trademark request for “Wikitribune” is currently being examined by the Intellectual Property Office, too, which lists application software for wireless devices, newspapers, and online publication of electronic newspapers as the goods and services under which the trademark is expected to function.
awarded taxpayer funds to the tune of £200,000 by the Cabinet Office to help get the project off the ground. However, the site—after filings showed Cole’s company, I Am Possible Ltd, operating at a considerable financial loss—underwent a makeover last summer.
For some time, Impossible has sold “socially and environmentally sustainable products” as a way of trying to generate some revenue. More recently, it has expanded its business offering by operating as a design and engineering agency.
Last night Cole was with Wales as he launched Wikitribune, which is “powered by Impossible.” Impossible says on its website that it builds “tools for grassroots communities, and support[s] projects that we think are solving fundamental world problems.”
Wikitribune will apparently operate in a similar way to Wikipedia, but pages won’t go live until a trusted volunteer or staffer approves any changes. The ad-free site is asking supporters to sign up and make monthly contributions to fund “evidence-based journalism.” It says:
Wikitribune is transparent about the way it operates and will publish its financials regularly. With Wikitribune your support will have more impact as most of the funds are used for paying journalists rather than expensive offices.
On that note, if we don’t reach our goal, of 10 journalists hired, we will refund all our supporters (minus transaction fees).
At time of publication,1,465 supporters appear to have pledged cash to the project, one out of 10 journalists have been hired, and a gimmicky clock is ticking down the days—seemingly 29 to go to get the first issue out the door.
Until Tuesday, Wales had sat on the board of the Guardian newspaper, which routinely asks readers to donate cash for its “independent, investigative journalism” that “takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce.” But Wikitribune’s donation-funded strategy put it on a collision course with the paper, which has now severed ties with Wales, according to the Telegraph.
This post originated on Ars Technica UK