Submissions/Wikipedia in the Media

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After careful consideration, the Programme Committee has decided not to accept the below submission at this time. Thank you to the author(s) for participating in the Wikimania 2014 programme submission, we hope to still see you at Wikimania this August.

Submission no. 1104
Title of the submission
Wikipedia in the Media : journalistic images of community cultures
Type of submission (discussion, hot seat, panel, presentation, tutorial, workshop)
Presentation
Author of the submission
Pierre-Carl Langlais
E-mail address
Special:EmailUser/Alexander Doria
Username
Alexander Doria
Country of origin
France
Affiliation, if any (organisation, company etc.)
Université de Paris Sorbonne / CELSA
Personal homepage or blog
Hotel Wikipedia
Abstract

Mainstream media organizations still play a significant part in shaping the popular conceptions about Wikipedia, albeit not always to the satisfaction of Wikipedia communities. The viral logic of news tends to favor polemic issues rather than accounts of encyclopedic works and achievements; often immersed in a corporate structure, media have recurrent difficulties in apprehending the collaborative governance of Wikipedia. Are wiki culture and media industries irreconcilable? Perhaps not. While being a long-term wikipedian, I have regularly published Wikipedia-related articles in a French mainstream online newspaper, Rue89. A brief account of this personal experience will recall the main rhetoric techniques I’ve used to accommodate a comprehensive account of wikipedian issues with the specific demands of mainstream journalistic writing.

Detailed account

This presentation aims to describe the mains features of the media representations of Wikipedia and to account for my own experience as a wikipedian writing on Wikipedia in a mainstream media.

Journalism coverage remains one of the key components of the reception of Wikipedia. For general audiences, the understanding of communities structure and knowledge production is frequently mediated by journalistic productions (reports, talk-show, press dispatch…). Wikipedian communities are not always satisfied with this « mediation » : the presentations of the encyclopedia in the news seems often approximate, if not erroneous.

Media mainstream organizations are managed in a very similar way to cultural industries. The production of news results from a highly formalized workflow, in which the journalists must complied with numerous external factors (mainly advertisement). Therefore, wikipedian communities are often pictured as traditional corporate entities (with sysops or recurrent contributors standing as editors or moderators), as media organization are more familiar with this kind of hierarchic structure.

Media-conveyed representations heavily relies upon discursive routines, aiming to stir the attention of an unidentified general public: narrativization (complex social interactions becomes a coherent drama), extensive use of widespread preconceptions (such as clichés), temporal writing constraints (including the urge to capitalize on the « media hype »). Wikipedian activities are frequently seen through the magnifying glass of polemics and scandals, on account on their high disseminative power: they easily gives way to a significant viral coverage. While the media were usually focused on the issue of wikipedia’s accuracy, the number of controversial regular topics has increased during the past few years: decline of the community, notability of a specific topic, complaints regarding a specific biography, and so forth…

The gap between the wikipedia communities and journalistic cultures seems hard to bridge: yet, I have attempted to do so. For the past two years I have regularly published wikipedia-related articles on Rue89, a leading French web newspaper: for instance, my account of the DCRI case has contributed to initiate a global buzz. I have experimented several techniques: putting a deceptive cliché in the title to initiate a deconstruction of usual preconceptions ("Is Wikipedia accurate?", "Is Wikipedia doomed?"), using historical references to introduce the specificities of wikipedian governance, questioning the accuracy of some mainstream media production (a report of one of the main French TV channel). The insights gained from this personal experience might not apply universally. Rue89 is, partly, a community-driven media that can be compared to the Huffington Post: the awareness of the readership to community matters has clearly helped me to acclimate specific wikipedian issues.

It would be fine to close the presentation on a short debate — especially if some of the attendees have already been confronted to the issue of introducing wikipedian and wikimedian cultures to mainstream media (I would really enjoy to receive this kind of feedback).

Track
Wikiculture and community
Length of session (if other than 30 minutes, specify how long)
30 minutes
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?
Yes
Slides or further information (optional)
Special requests


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