Newsman Peter Bale Hired by Wikipedia Founder
New Zealand-born former Reuters reporter Peter Bale, 52, has been hired by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales as the founding editor of WikiTribune, which will bring together professional journalists and a community of volunteers to collaborate on stories.
“The big leap journalistically is how to engage with that community and put them on an equal footing,” said Bale, who hopes to launch the crowd-funded site later this year.
It also represents a big psychological leap for the paid journalists who are part of what will be a new way of producing stories.
WikiTribune aims to occupy the void of credibility left by the demise of traditional media and the rise of social media – which has become a conduit for content that often fails to reveal or inform, but in the words of Wales, merely confirms our own biases.
The rise of fake news inspired Wales to conceive of a new type of platform where professional journalists work alongside volunteer fact-checkers to break stories.
Bale already has a good sense of the themes that WikiTribune will tackle based on the polling of hundreds of people who have signed up to be part of the venture. Subjects such as inequality, migration, and the rise of political Islam will all be within the orbit of the website.
“The stories we tackle are likely to be complex, to have multiple narratives running through them, to be stories that last within the news cycle more than 24 hours and that have underlying social and political factors,” Bale said.
WikiTribune hopes to tap into that growing sense of reader mistrust about the provenance of many stories circulated on social media.
“When you are building narratives based on alternative facts, you need organisations to hold you to account,” he said. Bale sees the rise of commentary and the blurring of old lines that separated opinion from news as a significant and sometimes troubling development.
“There can be a lack of clarity between what is a piece of commentary and what is news.”
WikiTribune aims to launch by the end of the year.
Original article by Sean Cronin, Arab News, August 8, 2017.
Photo by CNN.