I'm now starting work on my Wikinews article, for the Association of Internet Researchers conference in Chicago in October, and possible later publication in the 'News and the Net: Convergences and Divergences' issue of the journal Scan, edited by Chris Atton and Graham Meikle. I've sent a questionnaire about the Wikinews experience to my contact there, but if any other Wikinewsians happen to read this, your views would also be very much appreciated. Reply through comments, or email me.
# How long have you been involved with Wikinews, and in what roles?
# To the extent that you're willing to divulge that information: how would you describe yourself? What is your background (e.g. field of employment, level of education, key interests)? Where are you located?
# What do you feel were the greatest successes for Wikinews so far; where did it fail most significantly?
# Other than a gradual growth in contributors, what have been the major changes or developments in Wikinews in the last year?
# Compared to other collaborative news Websites (e.g. Slashdot, Kuro5hin) or news-related blogs, there seems to be relatively little discussion about the news on Wikinews. Instead, the discussion pages attached to each article cover mainly editorial issues. Is this a deliberate choice (to conform more to the format for the Websites of traditional news organisations), or can it be explained through other factors? In your view, would it be desirable to have more discussion of the news (rather than of the editorial aspects of articles) on Wikinews?
# What's the level of vandalism or deliberate misinformation on the site? Are older articles normally protected from editing after some time (this looks to have happened with the 'Coordinated terrorist attack hits London' article, for example)?
# To what extent does 'competition' from the Wikipedia itself slow down the development of Wikinews? Do users tend to update Wikipedia pages on topics and people in the news (recently e.g. New Orleans, the Pope) rather than submit or edit Wikinews reports? Is the Wikipedia's 'current events' page a kind of Wikinews in itself, distracting potential contributors away from Wikinews?
# Many successful collaborative online news sites (e.g. Slashdot, Indymedia) are focussed around a specific topic, or have a specific political background. Wikinews is both a generalist news site, and follows the Wikipedia NPOV principle. Does this hinder its growth, as it could be seen to limit the commitment of topic enthusiasts or political activists?
# An overly U.S.-specific or local focus is discouraged, in favour of topics that are of interest to a more general, international English-speaking audience. Is this a problem, and/or would it make sense to develop separate Wikinews sites for specific English-speaking countries, or even individual (U.S.) states?
# Have there been significant changes to what is regarded as a good Wikinews report during the last year? Has there been a noticeable trend towards more first-hand, original reporting (rather than reporting based on content drawn from other news sources) and/or exclusive news reports? Has Wikinews experimented with doing interviews, commentary pieces, or other news-related content beyond standard news reports?
# What are current developments in Wikinews technology and ancillary technologies? Are there further plans to increase the availability of audio news stories (and perhaps use podcasting or streaming media in their delivery), or to further utilise RSS and other tools?
# Any other comments?