Does Wikipedia deserve to be among the decade’s top ten works of journalism?

Working my way through a backlog of newsfeeds from the past week, I ran across a blog post on reason.com by Greg Beato called, “Where’s Wikipedia in NYU’s list of the decade’s top journalism?” While he doesn’t make a convincing argument that Wikipedia belongs on the NYU list (it was a list of top journalism, not top things that will change journalism forever), he does raise several points related to need for a type of news coverage that provides background, explanations and context.

Key quote:

“And so while Wikipedia doesn’t do any original reporting or break any news itself, it has established itself as a go-to site when big stories break.”

Last September, in a post suggesting people watch the progression of Wikipedia page during a breaking story, I outlined many of the specific facets of the creation and evolution of a breaking-story Wikipedia entry that make it, in my opinion, the current benchmark for a contextual model of journalism that compliments the “breaking story” model developed over the past two centuries.

As I said in the previous post, many people — even savvy journalists and new media pioneers — have problems with certain approaches, policies or flaw with the website, Wikipedia, that keep them from digging in deeper to understand the platform and approach. I feel certain that Wikipedia would not be Wikipedia were it not for the “user-contributed” open nature of the site. However, a comprehensive wiki-model resource that “contextualizes” (a word, I promise never to use again) a narrow niche, a city, a topic, a company’s in-house resources and corporate knowledge and policies, each can be developed by “professional” journalists or other content “pros.” The “user-generated” part of Wikipedia is only one facet of why Wikipedia (and the MediaWiki platform) deserve to be among the top ten things of the past decade that have changed journalism — and research, and knowledge-management — forever.

[This is related to, but not a part of, my series on Content that Works.]