Wikinews Coverage of the London Blasts

Just been checking out how Wikinews is handling the explosions in London. Very well, I have to say: Explosions, ‘serious incidents’ occuring across London .

There’s a wealth of detail here, culled from a wide array of sources in many different languages. There are maps, diagrams and photographs, including quite a few from witnesses, such as this one, from Adam Stacey who was on the northern line just past Kings Cross. Train suddenly stopped and filled with smoke. People in carriage smashed tube windows to get out and then were evacuated along the train tunnel. He’s suffering from smoke inhalation but fine otherwise.

It’s all really good stuff. And well ordered, although perhaps not how a traditional media editor would organise it. That’s not a criticism: I’m not the first to question whether the old ‘news pyramid’ of writing news copy shouldn’t be superceded by something more suited to the Web age. For example: putting in a telephone number for worried families near the top of the page; putting information under subheadings; very clear sourcing; holding off (or backing away) from the ‘six blasts’ version which the UK police don’t seem to be supporting in their most recent statements.

Of course, there’s another irony at work here. News websites add as many stories as they can at a time like this, with the dateline moving between London, Scotland and Singapore, including updates, sidebars etc. However, the Wikinews model actually works better for most readers, adding incremental tweaks to a core story on one page as new information comes in. (Google News, for example, has 721 stories on the topic as I write.) It may not work for the news-junkie, but for most of us it’s a great resource, a real working draft of history as it happens.

Well done, Wikinews.

Wikipedia Takes On News

The guys at Wikipedia, the collaborative encylcopedia, have taken on news, Wired reports. Wikinews is still in beta, but fully functioning.

For those familiar with South Korean news site OhmyNews (an English version is here), the idea is similar: Authors are able to add their content irrrespective of who they are. Unlike OhmyNews, however, other people are able to alter what you write. This is how Wikipedia works, and far from being messy, anarchic or unreliable, it has proven an excellent form of peer review. But will it work for news?