Jimmy Wales, an internet entrepreneur best known for co-founding Wikipedia, has launched Wikitribune, an online news platform aimed at countering the spread of fake news.
Wales explains the project on a new website. The homepage of the website states: "Articles are authored, fact-checked, and verified by professional journalists and community members working side by side as equals, and supported not primarily by advertisers, but by readers who care about good journalism enough to become monthly supporters."
Wikitribune's entry on Wikipedia says: "The goal is to offer 'factual and neutral' articles in order to fight the problem of 'fake news'."
"Social media, where most people get their news these days, is literally designed to show us what we want to see, to confirm our biases and to keep us clicking at all costs. It fundamentally breaks the news. The truth is, on the internet, no one is guarding the gate. So it's time to rethink the gatekeeper " Wales said in a video posted on the Wikitribune site.
"Because ads are cheap, competition for clicks is fierce and low quality news sources are everywhere," he explained in the video.
Wales said Wikitribune would combine professional, standards-based journalism with what he called “the radical idea from the world of wiki that a community of volunteers can and will reliably protect the integrity of information”.
“As the facts are updated, the news becomes a living, evolving artefact, which is what the Internet was made for,” he said.
"I think we're in a world right now where people are very concerned about making sure we have high quality fact-based information, so I think there will be demand for this," Wales told the BBC.
Wikitribune, will be free to access and carry no advertising, instead relying on its readers to fund it.
The Guardian reports that Wikitribune plans to report on general topics such as US and UK politics but will also be reporting on science and tech news.
Wales lists some high-profile advisors on the Wikitribune home page: journalism professor Jeff Jarvis, marketing expert and Silicon Valley venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki, actor and entrepreneur Lily Cole and US law professor Larry Lessig.
Jimmy Wales was born in Huntsville, Alabama, on August 7, 1966. He received his bachelor’s degree in finance from Auburn University and started with the Ph.D. finance program at the University of Alabama, where he left with a Master’s. From 1994 to 2000, Wales was the research director at Chicago Options Associates, a futures and options trading firm in Chicago. In 2001, Wales founded the open-content internet resource Wikipedia, which became the world's largest encyclopedia. Wales also founded the for-profit web-hosting company Wikia and Wikimedia Foundation a non-profit company encouraging the development and distribution of free educational content with projects such as Wikipedia.
In a 2004 interview with Slashdot, Mr. Wales explained his motivations about Wikipedia, “Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That’s what we’re doing.”
Wikitribune is independent from Wikipedia and the Wikimedia Foundation.