WikiTribune misses the point

The problem is our certainty that our worldview is the right one, not fake news.

Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales on 25 April revealed WikiTribune, his solution to the fake news epidemic that some say lead to the election of Donald Trump in the U.S. and the British to vote in favour of leaving the EU.

It’s a great idea to improve editing and fact-checking, but it’s not the solution to the fake news epidemic.

The concept behind WikiTribune is that professional journalists will be authoring, editing and fact-checking articles, while community members will be able to flag parts for review, such as facts and grammar. Articles will include sources, and the site will be funded by monthly subscribers rather than by ads and/or a paywall.

The problem with fake news, though, isn’t so much about ad-funded journalism or fact-checking errors. As long as you stick with established news organizations, such as The New York Times, The Guardian and the BBC, those shouldn’t really be issues.

The problem is the availability and ease-of-access to fake news paired with our certainty that our worldview is the right one. If we want to believe that, say, the U.S. bombing Syria was the right thing to do, we will actively seek sources that say so and discard those that say the opposite.

That’s what needs to change. We have to learn how to approach news in an unbiased way and let it define our worldview rather than let our worldview determine the news we consume. This isn’t something algorithms and software can fix. We can only solve this through education.

That said, I believe WikiTribune will have a positive impact on journalism, and I look forward to see other news organizations adopt similar tools.