WikiTRIBUNE – the Future of Media?

So the launch of Jimmy Wales new project, WikiTRIBUNE is here. The founder of WikiPEDIA claims that this will be a news site introducing a new model for the news taking professional standards based journalism and combining it with the power of the Wiki where a community of volunteers can and will reliably protect the integrity of the information.

Personally I think this is super exciting and the question I ask is does this new media project give us a steer on what the media company of tomorrow will be. Let’s take a look.

The Future of the Journalist

In the era of “fake news” and the value driven and political eco chamber that is social media curated news the importance of quality journalism has never been more important or more in demand than it is today.

WikiTRIBUNE is looking to create a world where journalists and the community are working side by side as equals. In its first month where the crowd funding campaign is actively being promoted it is looking to hire 10 journalists.

I am fascinated by this idea of quality journalist skills verifying so called facts and crafting stories provided by the community and then that story taking on a life of its own and being shaped by the community once again as it develops. Time will tell if this is a model that works but it certainly is scalable.

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The Future of the Editor

This is the role or skill set that is most under threat from the WikiTRIBUNE model. The copy on the website claims that YOU are the editor. Now this could very well be a good thing depending on the way the community works out.

Depending on how you view it editors have historically either been the protectors of impartiality, fact verification and reader interest or the puppets of powerful political and family interests.   I guess the idea is that the community will self regulate but isn’t it possible that the very communities that form these stories are liable to the same political and vested interests that traditional editors have been subject too over the year.

I like the idea of the democratisation of editorship though. Again time will tell.

The Future of the Business Model

One thing I think that is certain is the business model. WikiTRIBUNE will be crowd funding, donation or subscription based. There will be no advertising. In a world of Adblockers, banner blindness, the search for a perfect user experience and Google and Facebook taking 90% of digital advertising growth I guess that is no surprise.

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Today Wikipedia’s revenues based on the latest financial data are around $77m. To achieve this level of revenues that will provide funding for a lot more than just the 10 journalists they are looking for initially WikiTRIBUNE will need to generate 650,000 subscribers, based on the lowest monthly possible donation of $10. Considering that there are over 3.2b internet users, if the journalism is good enough, capturing a 0.2% of that market share should be possible.

Whilst there are i have argued previously that there are 10 different ways the media company of today can generate revenues as the New York Times 2020 report subscription revenues are and will be key for a successful future.

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I think Jimmy Wales is right. We are prepared to pay for quality journalism. I applaud WikiTRIBUNE for equalising the balance between the community, editors and journalists. In a world where fact based news and journalism is more important than ever I wish them all the luck in the world. They will need it.


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