Wikia is blurring the line between reader and journalist

Steven Loeb · January 25, 2016 · Short URL:

It launched Fandom, a pop culture website that will allow its readers to publish their own content

When you think of Wikia, or Wikipedia, the first thing you probably think of is the lack of editorial oversight. Those sites are famously operated by regular people, who don't get paid to control and edit the pages themselves. Wikias basically operate like a fan-run community, where there is nobody coming down from on high choosing what is, or is not, included. It's a very different kind of Web than we're used to.

For its latest endeavor, though, Wikia had decided to go in a somewhat new route, while also keeping the same spirit of fan contribution alive and well.

Called Fandom, its a pop culture website, covering television shows, movies, and video games, which will include an editorial team, heading up by Eric Moro, VP of Programming at Wikia.

Of course, there are a ton of pop culture websites out there already, which most of you probably frequent. Off the top of my head I can think of Vulture, Entertainment Weekly, the AV Club, Ain't It Cool News, Cinemablend and the list goes on. So what makes this one different? It's that, along with original features from its own editorial staff, as well as curated content from "the best of the web" and social media, it will also include content submitted from the fans themselves.

That include Fandom's "fan contributors." That program will allow users to write pieces, and make videos, giving them a platform to get their work published. There are currently over 125,000 contributors on Wikia each month. 

Fandom will also include highlights from Wikia's 360,000 fan communities.

So basically the site seems to be a marriage between what Wiki usually does, which is allow its users to contribute to the site, while also going larger and including more content, as well as exerting control over what gets published.

"When I started Wikia 10 years ago people were hungry for a platform to celebrate their passions," Jimmy Wales, founder and Chairman of Wikia and Wikipedia, said in a statement.

"But even the casual fan is a bigger fan than they once were, and the volume and sharpness of their knowledge is evidence of this. These fans, yesterday's nerds, are being sought after more and more by the public and even brands, for their opinions, their analysis and perspective, as true subject matter experts."

Unlike Wikipedia, which is part of the Wikimedia Foundation, a non-profit, and which is funded primarily by reader donations, Wikia is a for-profit company that makes its revenue through advertising. Wikia currently has 190 million global monthly uniques, and a huge contributing base, many of whom, presumably, have enough knowledge, and certainly have the passion, to create free content for the site.

The changing face of journalism

Wales, with all of his Wiki ventures, has been redefining what media can be by giving editorial control to anyone who wanted it. Now he's taking it a step further and basically advocating for the idea that anyone can be a journalist. It's a pretty radical notion, blurring the line between reader and expert, and it's just another indication of how quickly the media landscape is changing.

In recent years, digital media companies have raised big rounds, making them worth more than many old-guard media companies. 

Business Insider was purchased by German publishing giant Axel Springer at a price of $343 million, valuing the company at $442 million. That price was 77% more than the $250 million that was paid by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos when he bought the The Washington Post in 2013. 

NBCUniversal put $200 million into digital media company Vox Media, which was followed by a $200 million funding round in BuzzFeed a week later. Those investments turned both companies in unicorns; Vox is now worth $1 billion, which BuzzFeed is worth $1.5 billion.

Meanwhile the Financial Times is worth $1.3 billion, The Economist is worth $1.4 billion, the Boston Globe is worth $70 million and Forbes, which is worth $475 million.

Fandom looks to be a fascinating experiment, and perhaps the ultimate proof that anyone can be a journalist, given the ability to write and the right amount of passion for a subject.

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