WikiTribune cuts journalism staff to make way for more community participation

WikiTribune founder Jimmy Wales says there have been “major personnel changes” at the news platform.

Christophe Morin/IP3 / Techhnews

WikiTribune, a news platform launched by Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales, has reportedly laid off its team of 13 original journalists. 

In a letter earlier this week, Wales and WikiTribune co-founder Orit Kopel wrote that they’d “made some major personnel changes” at the news platform. The Drum has reportedly confirmed the departure of the editorial team, and The Times of London said the workers were laid off. 

WikiTribune, which launched in August 2017, is an open collaboration site featuring stories that can be edited by contributors, much like Wikipedia. Its goal was to battle fake news by having fact-checked stories. The site is currently in pilot mode and plans to move to beta in six months. 

Wales and Kopel wrote in their letter: “We are looking to hire new journalists — our old staff was great, but we are now focussing much more on community support, and so we are looking for journalists with extensive wiki experience, and journalists with fact checking passion.”

The founders also said WikiTribune has added the ability for “far more people” to hit “publish” when a story is good to go, which led to a spike in logins and edits from members. Wales and Kopel said they’ll be rolling out a new homepage in the next couple of weeks that makes pending edits (those that haven’t been published yet) more visible. 

In their letter, Wales and Kopel pointed to an early design flop for the site, saying: “We are still working through the site and finding vestiges of the clearly wrong perception that the journalists are ‘above’ the community, supervising their work. This was never the intention and it is something we got wrong in the early design. Despite the best efforts of staff, the overall structure and design didn’t let the community genuinely flourish.”

 WikiTribune didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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