2. Local Wiki
- A dynamic encyclopedia of local knowledge focused on community issues, concerns, events and needs. If paired with another PivotPoint proposal, the open reporter's notebook, the wiki might be thought of as an open CMS. It would contain both the first draft and the final draft of news. It would have wiki pages on every issue, every news event, every person in the news, and every place, business, governmental entity and organization in the news. Champion: Martin Langeveld.and narrative sections.
Right up front it should be said that "wiki" may not be the right term, because wiki implies fully user-created and edited content, which this would not be. On the other hand, wiki also implies a comprehensive, accurate and current information source, which this certainly would be. So naming it is a branding question that involves how you want the public to perceive it. One news organization might call it something like "Erie Wiki" while another might call it something like "Erie Source" or "EriePedia". Herein, I'll refer to it as a wiki.
Also, to the extent this is understood as a "local wiki", it differs from existing local wikis like Daviswiki.org, which is mostly about events, places, and history and not at all comprehensive about local news and issues, because it has no news organization driving it.
If paired with another PivotPoint proposal, the open reporter's notebook, the wiki might be thought of as an open CMS. It would contain both the first draft and the final draft of news. It would have wiki pages on every issue, every news event, every person in the news, and every place, business, governmental entity and organization in the news.
Each topical page would contain an anchor-linked index, and typically would be organized into a brief summary at the top of the page, followed by a detailed narrative (with sub-sections as needed), followed by a chronology of events, followed by discussion (as appropriate) consisting of pros and cons (for issues), etc., links to relevant editorials, columns, letters to the editor, etc. In addition to text the pages could contain photographs, charts, graphics, video and audio.
At the news organization hosting the wiki, the reporting and publishing process would have a work flow very different from the typical newsroom workflow. Reporters and editors would build content only in the wiki. As news breaks, they would post a brief update to the summary
As details emerged, they would add a section to the events chronology. This would contain all the information typically contained in a story, including quotes — but not the typical background recitations contained in newspaper stories, because that information is already available in the narrative section of the wiki for those who need it.
Via the integrated open reporter's notebook, if integrated, news sources including the general public could contribute content. If the open reporter's notebook is not integrated, other means of public contributions would need to be created.
As news unfolds and the wiki is updated, a separate group of editors in the newsroom — specialists in product content — are tasked with producing social media updates, website content, mobile app content and printed product content. These specialists draw on the chronology updates in the wiki — which will be by definition the most reliable and recent version of the news — as well as on the detailed narrative sections for the necessary background material. For digital output (website and mobile stories), their first versions might simply link to the wiki background sections rather than including rewritten versions.
Note that on the wiki pages there is both news and opinion content, clearly labeled. With vigilance from both inside and outside the news organization, these can be kept clearly labeled, separated and understood for what they are. As on Wikipedia, news would be edited to strictly reflect the facts. Differing from Wikipedia, opinion and discussions would not be relegated to discussion tabs but be contained in labeled sections of the news page.
Along with means for access by news sources, the wiki should have ways to accept contributions of content by the public, by businesses, organizations, institutions etc. Active monitoring, and perhaps levels of contributor accreditation, would be necessary.
Once the wiki is launched and topic pages are developed, various additions and buildouts would be possible. Among these would be a local Q&A section, and as appropriate, sections on topic pages with action suggestions, such as "make a contribution", "get involved," "make a reservation," "buy a ticket", etc.
Ultimately, the wiki would be successful if it accomplishes two things:
- Overall user/reader engagement/attention with all of the news organization's products and tools is increased, so that overall revenue grows.
- The content production work flow is actually made more efficient by means of the wiki, so that newsroom productivity is improved. (This happens because there is more specialization in the flow of content from reporters to wiki to distributed products and sites, and news updates can be delivered more quickly through all channels.)
For historical interest, see also my 2008 posts on this topic: