On January 15, 2001, a group of people started a daring experiment: They let the whole world create an encyclopedia in all languages, freely available to everyone on the planet with internet access, forever. In the following months and years, it was not just technology that made this dream a reality, but also an incredibly dedicated community of volunteers who wrote articles and formulated the policies and guidelines for the project. They did so through an open, evolutionary process, in a belief in the possibility of consensus, in a desire for the betterment of the human condition, and in love of the human spirit.
The idea behind the Wikinews project is no less daring. We seek to create a free source of news, where the 10% of human beings (as of 2004) with internet access, and in the future certainly more of us, are invited to contribute reports about events large and small, either from direct experience, or summarized from elsewhere. Wikinews is founded on the idea that we want to create something new, rather than destroy something old. It is founded on the belief that we can, together, build a great and unique resource which will enrich the media landscape.
Wikinews will already be useful even if we start out by having relatively few original reports - because it will provide free, neutral, aggregated summaries of the news from elsewhere. It will already be useful even if the subject range which we cover will initially be full of gaps - because in these subject areas, we will already benefit from the collaborative wiki model. It can grow to become more useful every day.
While Wikinews aims to be a useful resource of its own, it will also provide an alternative to proprietary news agencies like the Associated Press or Reuters; that is, it will allow independent media outfits to get a high quality feed of news free of charge to complement their own reporting. Thanks to copyleft, anyone with internet access can create their own free news source - even a non-neutral one - on the basis of our work. Even if our articles will initially be few, they will be free, permanently available and not require registration before reading.
While we are faced with many new challenges, Wikinews will adopt the key principles which have made Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia websites what they are today: neutrality, free content, and an open decision making process.
We seek to promote the idea of the citizen journalist, because we believe that everyone can make a useful contribution to painting the big picture of what is happening in the world around us. The time has come to create a free news source, by the people and for the people. At the moment, only a small minority of us can participate, but you are free to help us find practical methods of crossing this digital divide. We invite you to join us in this effort which has the potential to change the world forever.