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Newspapers on Wikipedia project — How To Guide

Newspapers on Wikipedia Project

What is this project?

This is a project to create Wikipedia entries for historical local news sources as part of efforts to depollute the web by supporting people’s ability to find credible and reliable local news sources. Our work on Wikipedia will support people’s ability to read laterally, which is an important fact-checking skill. It will also increase the findability of credible local news sources, since Wikipedia articles rank well on Google searches.

Our ultimate goal:

“…documenting existing newspapers with a significant history. We aim with this first project to pick papers 25 years old or older that have been noted repeatedly in other media due to their historical or community significance. We put “Historical” in the title to clearly signal to Wikipedia admins and others our good intentions and our prime argument for notability.” [Mike Caulfield, Source]

Here’s how to start:

First, you have to learn how to write for Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Contributing_to_Wikipedia

Also, when working in Wikipedia, you have to establish the “notability” of what you’ve written. This means that we need to support our pages about local news sources with secondary sources that verify the notability of those news sources. Learn more about how to do that here: https://hapgood.us/2018/05/31/establishing-the-significant-history-of-a-newspaper-on-wikipedia/

Here are Wikipedia’s notability guidelines for newspapers:

Notability is presumed for newspapers, magazines and journals that verifiably meet through reliable sources, one or more of the following criteria:

  • have produced award winning work
  • have served some sort of historic purpose or have a significant history
  • are considered by reliable sources to be authoritative in their subject area
  • are frequently cited by other reliable sources
  • are significant publications in ethnic and other non-trivial niche markets

Introductory steps

  1. Create a Wikipedia account
  2. Create your account page and add information about this project to your page (check out Amy Collier’s example, and Mike’s example). We want to make sure the Wikipedia Editors who will review our work can verify that we don’t have any conflicts of interest or any reason to write false information on Wikipedia. Feel free to copy text from my account page.
  3. Add your username to the Wikipedia page for this project: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Newspapers#Participants
    1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Amymcollier <— your link will look something like this. When you add it to the NOW Project participant list, you’ll write:
      *[[user:username|name]]
  1. Spend some time wikignoming to understand how to write for and improve Wikipedia:
    1. Here is what a wiki gnome is: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiGnome
      1. Do this for local sources about which the NOW project has already written, like those listed on Mike’s wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Michaelacaulfield, or on these existing VT newspaper pages: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_newspapers_in_Vermont
    2. Add some Info Boxes to existing pages created by others on our team: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Newspapers/Needs_Infobox

Now you’re ready to write your own page for a news source! Pick a paper from one of the states lists here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Newspapers/States

If you’re doing this as part of Middlebury’s Information Environmentalism Studio, email Amy Collier to get access to the shared document to track your progress with the rest of the group.

The Process

  1. Start researching! Follow Mike’s instructions here: https://hapgood.us/2018/05/31/establishing-the-significant-history-of-a-newspaper-on-wikipedia/
  2. Start writing in the “in progress” section below. You’ll write in the “in progress” section until you’ve written a notable enough article for a Wikipedia page (or you can write wherever you feel comfortable!)
  3. Once you’ve gotten some feedback and think you’re ready to add your page to Wikipedia, do it!
  4. Add the link to your published page to your Wikipedia profile, as Mike did, and add a link to your article on the Pages Added page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Newspapers/Pages_Added
  5. If you are not quite ready to write a page, there are other tasks you can do:
    1. Add an InfoBox to a page (what is an infobox, you ask?)
    2. Do some wikignoming on pages that have issues (or any of these pages)

Several Vermont and California papers that already have Wikipedia pages need some help. Check them out here:


Learn more about this initiative:

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