Wikipedia for Breaking News

The News is Wikipedia being used for Breaking News. Over the past few years Wikipedia has become a more accepted source for historical fact and scientific reference. Although open to editing by anyone – although an IP address is recorded and registering is encouraged, Wikipedia has been able to setup a system of guidlines, rules and governance that has managed to steadily improve the perceived quality of the encylopedia. See this example of Updaters of Company Brand wikip-postings for an example of how circumspect wiki-editors must be.  The net result is that Wikipedia is gaining increased credibility as a reference source.

However, with breaking news, Wikipedia’s control mechanisms appear to be at a disadvantage versus news organizations with their decades of refinement of editorial control over breaking stories. The wiki-editing and governance is likened to the delays incurred by stock markets to adjust for over- or under-valuation of breaking business news – sometimes it takes not just hours but days for the stock  markets vaunted efficiency to appropriately correct.

The currently debated topic is how good is wikipedia at controlling the authenticity of breaking news. And the appraisal is first more sanguine than expected
The key point being  that only  “respected editors” are allowed to make postings – this to prevent vandalism and sabotage of the evolving story. And a more recent posting argues as news has been influenced by Twitter, Facebook and other Crowd-sources on breaking stories, Wikipedia with its many inherent curating controls and divergent contributors should be considered as the better “crowd source” of news:

While Pantages argues that “Wikipedia should not be a source, it should be a starting off point,” we would have to argue the same for news media in general. In this crowd-sourced news environment we’ve entered, blindly consuming news and content, from any source, is an ill-advised path to follow.

With that said, if we are willing to take crowd-sourced content – whether tweets, Facebook updates, blogs, videos or whatever else – as valid sources for information about our world, then a collection of these same media as carefully poured over and curated as found in a Wikipedia article should be even more trusted, not less, than those bits on their own.

This party likes the more conservative “starting-off-point” usage of Wikipedia for breaking news.

But the more telling point is that Wikipedia may be as influential as and free postings of newspapers and magazines on the Web in determining the economics of news organizations – already economically challenged – now to be even more so if Wikipedia for Breaking News becomes a major trend. As major print media slowly gets on their Web 2.0 feet [and sometimes exceptionally well] will their feet be cutout from under them by Wikipedia?

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