You, fearless and intrepid blogger: WikiNews wants to harness your journalistic energy and perspective. They provide the rag, bloggers apply the ink. Projects like this are on the brink of doing something great, democratizing the centralized business of delivering the news that matters to the masses.
Undoubtedly, journalistas and ex-journalistas like my friends Betsy and Todd are going to have a good chuckle when they read this post. How can non-professionals ever begin to match the concise writing, strict code of conduct, editorial oversight, inside access, and interviewing skills that only professional journalists have or have access to? Here's how:
- Writing--for every journalist who can write well, there are one million non-journalists who can write weller.
- Codes of Conduct--given a Slashdot-like rating system that promotes highly-trusted and well-written content to the "front page", a set of clearly articulated guidelines, and practically unlimited oversight from thousands of zealous editors (me, you, Nancy, Juan and all of our extended families), mistruths, half truths and the WikiNews weasels that *will* produce them are more likely to be smoked from their holes (ie, *fired by the masses!*) than their journalistic cousins who can slink around in the long shadows of the "professional news outlets" like the Associated Press, New York Times, Die Zeit, El Mundo, and Maariv. Seriously, how many Wikis are going to give paid leave to a writer who lies or doesn't check her sources?
- Editorial Oversight--The editorial pool of a juggernaut like Wikipedia is practically unlimited. Never underestimate the skill or vigilence of unpaid wannabes and bored professionals.
- Inside Access--Paid journalists have a level of access that most people and bloggers do not. Oh, wait! No they don't. For every Scoble who isn't quite ready to provide a scoop on the next version of Microsoft Windows, there is a quiet alter-Scoble who is, who can, and who does. It happens every day in otherwise inpenetrable groups around the world: somebody spills the beans. That's how reporters get information: they find an insider who already has access and convince them to produce the scoop for them.
- Interviewing Skills--I've met a few smart reporters and one charming one but I've never met a reporter whose interviewing skills equal those of a well-trained Microsoft manager, a Redmond police officer, or a flirtatious graduate student.
This decade and perhaps even this century will be remembered as the Era of Tranparency. WikiNews is poised to kick a big ole hole in the non-transparent wall that separates us, the news consumers, from them, the boardroom producers and their hired junção, the corporate reporters.
Watch. Listen. Write. You are the New Media.