The Guardian reports that Jimmy Wales is launching an online publication that will fight fake news by pairing professional journalists with an army of volunteer community contributors.
Those who donate will become supporters, who in turn will have a say in which subjects and story threads the site focuses on. And Wales intends that the community of readers will fact-check and subedit published articles.
Describing Wikitribune as “news by the people and for the people,” Wales said: “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.”
I’m not convinced that that the model, as described, will actually work financially and, even if it does, it looks geared towards encouraging niche and specialist interests. As such, it will probably do little to address either the echo-chamber effect or the over-reliance of much of the mainstream media on advertising and the clickbait type articles which that encourages.
In other news, Google has announced its first attempt to combat the circulation misleading or offensive content being surfaced by its search engine.
The technology company said it would allow people to complain about misleading, inaccurate or hateful content in its autocomplete function, which pops up to suggest searches based on the first few characters typed.
Quite frankly, this looks more like a PR move on Google’s part than anything else. It’s all well and good letting people report bad or misleading search results, but I don’t see any indication of what Google intends to do about these reports.
Fake news is a problem, but gimmicks like these don’t really address the problem. For that, we need to encourage greater media literacy and stronger critical thinking skills.