Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales Believes He Can Fix Fake News With Wikitribune Project

jimmy wales wikitribune fake news
Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales addresses a news conference in Oviedo, northern Spain, October 22, 2015. He has launched Wikitribune in an effort to remedy fake news and transform the way news is produced. REUTERS/Vincent West

As Facebook, Google and Twitter scramble to fix the blight of fake news that has spread across the web—by adjusting algorithms and contributing to campaigns—the creator of another online behemoth believes he has the answer.

Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales has launched Wikitribune, a news site that adopts the crowdfunded, community-based model of other "wiki" projects in an effort to remedy "fake news" and transform the way people get their news.

Wales's idea is for professional journalists and citizen journalists to work side-by-side to create "fact-checked, global news stories," with the hope it will protect the integrity of information.

"The news is broken, but we figured out how to fix it," Wales said in a promotional video for Wikitribune.

"Before the internet, we could only get our news from traditional news organizations. Editors, fact-checkers and reporters were the gatekeepers of news and we trusted them to tell the truth—we even paid for them to tell the truth," he continued. "On the internet, no one is guarding the gate. So it's time to rethink the gatekeeper… it's time to fix the news."

I am making something new. I hope you like it. #wikitribune

— Jimmy Wales (@jimmy_wales) April 24, 2017

Wales was inspired to create a new platform for news following the election of U.S. President Donald Trump. "Someone I know convinced me to give Trump 100 days before making my mind up," he said. "But then on day one, Kellyanne Conway came out and said her 'alternative facts' line. That was when I really decided to move forward."

Executives at Facebook and Google have conceded that the dissemination of fake stories—such as one infamous piece accusing Hillary Clinton being part of an underground pedophile ring —through social media may have helped swing last year's election in Trump's favor.

Both companies were criticized for failing to effectively counter fake news, and both have since set up initiatives designed to combat the phenomenon, however, some media analysts say that not enough is being done to fix the problem.

Wikitribune plans to have journalists share full transcripts of interviews, as well as any audio or video recordings that have informed their reporting. The website states that community members will help to fact-check and verify stories, and readers will be able to flag and submit pieces for review if they believe there are inaccuracies.

"Wikitribune takes professional, standards-based journalism and incorporates the radical idea from the world of Wiki that a community of volunteers can and will reliably protect and improve articles," the Wikitribune website states.

The site launched a crowdfunding campaign to pay for 10 professional journalists on Tuesday, ahead of the news site going live next month. More than 1,400 people have so far pledged their support for the project.