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Announcing Wikipediocracy’s Student Microgrant Program

Beginning June 1, 2014, Wikipediocracy will launch a $1,000 microgrant program that is intended to fund the news reporting efforts of college journalism students. Qualifying applicants will submit short proposals describing how they would write provocative news stories about Wikipedia, with an emphasis on unexplored and innovative topic areas that have been neglected heretofore by the mainstream news media.

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In the past 30 days, there have been over 800 news stories that mention “Wikipedia” in the body of the article, and over 150 have mentioned the “Wikimedia Foundation” in the copy. In numerous cases, mainstream journalists (from Wall Street JournalChristian Science MonitorSalonFox NewsDaily DotThe Register, and others) have cooperated extensively with Wikipediocracy to inspire or inform their published works about Wikipedia. Obviously, Wikipedia and the governing charity organization that runs its servers are popular fodder for journalists to write about.

But at Wikipediocracy, where we tend to take a more critical view of some of the supposed wonders of crowdsourced “free” knowledge and of the governance practices of the Wikimedia Foundation, we are concerned that today’s field of journalism frequently paints an unrealistically rosy picture of Wikipedia. As one example, we see many journalists complete an interview with Jimmy Wales, republishing word-for-word what his public relations handlers would be pleased to see, without supplying even a single voice in counterpoint that might dispute what Wales professes to be truth.

Wikipediocracy is networking with university professors in Journalism and related fields (e.g., English or Creative Writing), to inform their undergraduate classes of this extra-curricular opportunity to earn $50 per news story, with another chance to win a $300 grand prize, or $100 runner-up prizes, for the “best in class” news articles submitted during the 2014-2015 academic year. Student applications will be accepted beginning June 1, 2014.

Application process

There will be two waves of applications considered for the Wikipediocracy Student Microgrant Program; the first wave in the Fall 2014 semester, and the second wave in the Spring 2015 semester. Applicants will deliver the following by e-mail to Media@wikipediocracy.com:

1. Acknowledge being enrolled in an undergraduate Journalism (or related field, such as English Composition, Creative Writing, etc.) course at an accredited college or university, at any point during the application submission period, or during the previous one or two semesters of instruction.
2. Provide your full name, e-mail address, name of college or university, year of study (Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, or Senior), major or intended major, name of the Journalism course taken, and name of instructor.
3. Provide a short synopsis (up to 50 words) of the topic related to Wikipedia or the Wikimedia Foundation that you propose to address with your news or opinion article. There is an opportunity here not merely to generate critical or negative press regarding Wikipedia or the WMF, but to generate honestly interesting and fresh journalism about these subjects. Strong preference will be given to story ideas that break new ground, that appeal to a general audience, and/or that are supported by evidence or research.
4. Provide a link to your best writing sample(s) online, post-collegiate career ambitions, and any other information that may enhance your application.

All applications will be kept private and confidential with the Wikipediocracy review team. All submissions become the shared property of the applicant and of Wikipediocracy.

FALL SEMESTER 2014:

* June 1 through October 15, 2014: Applications may be submitted by students for the Fall semester 2014 program wave.

* October 16 through 30, 2014: Applications will be reviewed by a Wikipediocracy panel. Up to five (5) finalists will be accepted into the Student Microgrant Program.

* October 31, 2014: Approved finalists will be notified and requested to begin their research and writing on the topic of Wikipedia or the Wikimedia Foundation.

* November 1 through December 31, 2014: Articles will be received from grant recipients, tended to by an editorial review team, then with permission of the author published on Wikipediocracy.com. Each student will receive $50 for his or her published work.

SPRING SEMESTER 2015:

* January 1 through February 15, 2015: Applications may be submitted by students for the Spring semester 2015 program wave. Fall semester applicants may re-apply, but no special preference will be shown.

* February 16 through 28, 2015: Applications will be reviewed by a Wikipediocracy panel. Up to five (5) finalists will be accepted into the Student Microgrant Program.

* March 1, 2015: Approved finalists will be notified and requested to begin their research and writing on the topic of Wikipedia or the Wikimedia Foundation.

* March 1 through May 31, 2015: Articles will be received from grant recipients, tended to by an editorial review team, then with permission of the author published on Wikipediocracy.com. Each student will receive $50 for his or her published work.

GRAND PRIZE:

* July 15, 2015: Selection of Grand Prize winner. Based on objective criteria including web page views and the number of additional news stories spawned by a particular student’s article, and based on the subjective decision of the Wikipediocracy judges, one Grand Prize of $300 will be awarded, as well as two “runner-up” prizes of $100.

Wikipediocracy is eager to financially assist collegiate news writers and authors in their exploration of new avenues of inquiry related to Wikipedia. Won’t you join us?

 

Image credit: Wikimedia ~ Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

9 comments to Announcing Wikipediocracy’s Student Microgrant Program

  • I hope we help usher in a new wave of discussion and investigative coverage of the “online encyclopedia that anyone can edit.”

    Great work!

    –Bill

  • Guy

    What if we don’t live in the U.S.A.?

  • eagle

    I assume that students will be encouraged (and retain the right) to publish their article in their student/campus newspaper.

    I think this is a great idea. If nothing else, the student could review and analyze Wikipedia’s coverage of the student’s college and ask experts to comment about the quality of that coverage.

    Similarly, I bet every major research university has at least one prominent faculty member who as been treated in a less-than-professional manner by Wikipedia.

    Finally, student journalists might want to investigate whether faculty can comment on the role of Wikipedia as a source of student research papers.

    This is a great idea!

    • “All submissions become the shared property of the applicant and of Wikipediocracy.” That should be clear that the applicant still owns whatever they submit to Wikipediocracy, so they’re free to cross-publish their work, if they choose. We’d hope that they’d give at least a nod of recognition to the Wikipediocracy microgrant, too.

      Great ideas you’ve given there, yourself, eagle.

  • It is an absurdly small amount of money compared to Jumbo’s wads of benighted cash but if David could do it to Goliath with a small stone, why not Wikipediocracy too? I just hope the guys who do such a stout job there are not paying for this out of their own pockets. Keep the light burning. The darkness is wide and deep.

    • Hersch

      The prize money was donated by about a half-dozen of our stalwarts. However, if you wish to increase the available prize money, I’m sure you could learn how to accomplish that by contacting the email address mentioned in the post.

  • Radiant Orchid

    It was very kind of cliff1066™ to freely license that Norman Rockwell painting from the cover of The Saturday Evening Post. I’m pretty sure that Curtis Publishing would be cool with that.

    • Radiant Orchid, thank you for alerting us to the fact that we had inadvertently copied a misappropriated work that “cliff1066” had illicitly reauthorized under a free license. (This happens frequently in the zeal of “free culture movement” fanatics — but Wikipediocracy should certainly strive to aim higher than that.) We notified Curtis Publishing of the situation, and they thanked us. However, since they would not negotiate their $500 minumum rate for reuse of images like the Norman Rockwell painting, we have elected to replace the image with one of the Great and True Leader, Der Jimbo.