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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Wikinews reporters are everywhere

Yesterday I had the pleasure of stepping out and doing a spot of Original Reporting for Wikinews. Earlier this week I had heard in mainstream media that Australian Prime Minister John Howard was going to be in my home town of Bathurst to do a spot of campaigning for the local MP. I saw this as a perfect opportunity to get out and do some original reporting on the streets of Bathurst.

Two days before Mr Howard's visit I heard that a group of protesters were arranging a protest to greet him on his arrival to a Liberal Party luncheon. I then googled for details of the protest's organiser, a unionist by the name of Daniel Walton. He told me that protesters would be assembling shortly after 11:30AM on Friday and to look out for "the guy in the red shirt" to have a chat and get some quotes.

So I took my Pentax Optio 60, a notebook, pen and my Wikinews press card and headed for the protest. Once there, I was surprised by the attitude of police towards me given the relative unknowness of Wikinews in Australia. Police told me I was pretty much free to wander around, take photos and write notes so long as I followed their orders. While I was being told this, I was seeing other people being ushered towards the barracades where protesters were standing behind by police.

Once I spoke to the police, I went looking for Daniel Walton. To my surprise (or perhaps his sense of humour) there were quite a number of people in red t-shirts. I wandered around the protest crowd, talking to protesters and gathering comments until I was approached by another organiser Michael Foggarty. He was more than happy to be interviewed, asked some questions about Wikinews and then introduced me to Daniel Walton.

I interviewed Daniel, took some more photos and then noticed people were beginning to enter the luncheon venue across the street. I crossed the road where I was stopped momentarily by riot police, who told me "Protesters aren't allowed over there". Once I flashed my Wikinews press card and explained what I was doing, the officer apologised and sent me on my way.

Half way across the road, I spotted perhaps the highlight of my day - a young man impersonating our PM. Having a chuckle to myself I continued on my way and requested a few comments from luncheon attendees, all who refused. Even the Deputy Mayor of Bathurst refused, telling me he "doesn't speak to journalist trash", despite walking only a few steps further down the street and speaking to reporters from the local newspaper!

As antendees were walking in, protesters made their voices heard, calling atendees Chumps (which I learned on Urban Dictionary means a stupid or gullible person) and yelling chants about the PM and our local MP.

After standing opposite the street from the protesters for a short time, I noticed the police were beginning to barracade the street block off. Knowing Mr Howard wasn't too far away I moved into a good vantage point to capture a photo for when he arrived. I was able to stand probably two metres behind the rear of his Holden Caprice as it pulled into the kerb.

When Mr Howard exited his vehicle, I caught a shot of him stepping up the curb. I then turned and took a shot of the protesters with their backs to him.

It was the first time I had seen Mr Howard in real life and would have been standing not more than five metres from him.

The most difficult part of putting the article together for Wikinews was the lack of comment from luncheon attendees, this made it difficult to comply with the neutrality policy. Fortunately, the Prime Minister's speech to those at the luncheon was transcribed on the internet, where he had commented on his industrial reforms the protesters were discontent with.

I am looking forward to covering the next major event in Bathurst to publish on Wikinews when it happens!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Protests on Wikinews!

Two new original reports on Wikinews show that everywhere around the world, where politicians go, protesters show up and the media follows... citizen journalists in this case.

Protesters demonstrate at US Coast Guard Academy

Sage Ross wrote an article (his first on Wikinews) about a demonstration at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. President Bush drew hundreds of protesters and counterprotesters to New London, Connecticut. "Next time I go to something like this I'm going to take extensive notes, write down quotes, and do full-fledged original reporting," he wrote on his blog. We sure hope so, because the Wikinews Original Reporting policy demands so!

Ross was also mentioned in a report from the newspaper :
Yale doctoral student Sage Ross was protesting the president and snapping photos of both sides for the Wikimedia Foundation, which runs the Internet-based, free encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

Pro-troop protesters rebuffed him when he approached them to take photos.

"They didn't quite buy it that I was one of the press," he said with a smile.
The latter was probably because he didn't have a Wikinews Press Card, as Accredited Reports on Wikinews sometimes do. Of course, then he could no longer go "to participate in an anti-war protest", because, as the Wikinews:Original reporting page says: "If you go to a protest to participate in it, leave your Wikinews Press Card at home!" Also, we hope he clearly explained to the reporter that interviewed him that he is not an official representative of the Wikimedia Foundation; Accredited Reporters on Wikinews have a clear disclaimer on their user page:
Accredited Wikinews reporters do not represent the Wikimedia Foundation, but are trusted contributors who the Wikinews community has certified for the purposes of gathering information related to Wikinews articles.

Protesters turn their backs on Australian PM

In Bathurst, Australia, protesters turned their back on Prime Minister John Howard as he arrived for a Liberal Party luncheon. Reporter and Wikinews Admin Nathan Carter had some difficulty balancing the article, because he was able to interview the protesting side, but as he describes on the article talk page he "attempted to speak to some attendees at the luncheon but all approached refused to be interviewed."

Monday, May 21, 2007

Strange events covered on Wikinews

Wikinews reporters Paul Williams and Steven Fruitsmaak report on some of the bizar events taking place in their environment...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Wikinews on the scene of massive warehouse fire in Buffalo, New York

Wikinews accredited reporter Jason Safoutin, who lives in Buffalo, New York, was on the scene for about 4 hours after a massive warehouse complex of at least 5 buildings caught on fire. He witnessed several explosions and spoke to people at the fire site.

He wrote the article "Smoke from massive warehouse fire in Buffalo, New York USA can be seen 40 miles away", based on his experience and also other news reports of the fire, and he furnished it with images of the thick plume of black smoke.

The article is currently a featured article candidate, with Jason commenting: "I don't normally nominate my own writing, but this was an excellent story, great coverage and has excellent pictures."

Over the last 14 days, Wikinews editors have claimed Original Reporting on 17 articles, including 2 interviews. A list of recent original contributions can be viewed on the Original reporting portal.

Wikinews sends photographer to concert in Sesame Place

Christy hangs out with Sesame Street characters at the theme park, before appearing in the daily parade.

Wikinews reporter Nicholas Moreau contacted professional photographer David Fore of Lloyd David Photography to go to the recent Christy Carlson Romano concert at Sesame Place theme park in Langhorne, Pennsylvania.

Although Nick describes it "mainly as an exercise to get images for Wikipedia itself" on the news report's talk page, his actions have resulted in an article on Wikinews and new images on Commons. Under his user name Zanimum, Moreau has been contributing to the articles relating to Sesame Street on Wikipedia (for example helping the article Sesame Street to reach FA status).

Nick has successfully used the strategy 5 times already, and said on the article talk page: "If there's any events anywhere in Canada/US/UK/Australia/anywhere else that speaks English as a primary language, I'm willing to get us in, ask me, I can try my best."

Read the article:
Wikinews attends Christy Carlson Romano concert in Sesame Place