As part of the digital media literacy course at ASU, students were tasked to become Wikipedia editors and help out with a WikiProject for local newspapers: News on Wiki. My part of this assignment involved doing some research about a newspaper that did not have a complete Wikipedia article, the Alachua Today in Alachua, Florida.
When I was in high school, my teachers told me not to use Wikipedia for research. Now, however, I’m a Wiki editor! During my studies at ASU, I’ve learned that Wikipedia can be a wonderful starting point for research on a variety of topics, and after doing my own research for the news project, I now understand the effort put into these articles and how highly accuracy is viewed.
My professor provided plenty of resources and videos about how to create a Wikipedia account and what the project was about to help us with the assignment. I ended up learning a lot about Wikipedia itself, specifically that almost anyone can edit an article and contribute to the website without needing extensive credentials.
While I was aware that users could edit and create articles, I always assumed there was a credibility process to go through in order to make those edits. Of course, there have also been incidents where people have fabricated information on a Wikipedia article and were caught.
What was interesting about this process was being able to do the research and take notes for other editors down the line. It felt like I was involved in the community of editors and journalists. I was able to find some good sources about the newspaper I was researching, even though there is not a lot of information out there about its history.
To summarize the edits I made, I replaced the wiki and mondo links with the specific pages within the search results about the newspaper. I also found other sources to help create the page, such as the newspaper’s website (to be linked to on the article page), facts about the owners and area where the newspaper was located, as well as business records. A page already exists for this paper, but it is only a stub, so hopefully someone can come along and use the information I found to create a more robust article.
What I Learned
Media creation may seem like magic at times. Even as a content creator who works in marketing and digital media, I still find myself awe-inspired at the things I see. What I learned about media creation through Wikipedia is that nothing comes from thin air, however. There is always a beginning, even if it is small, a first step, when it comes to creating media. Whether it’s a small town newspaper covering a huge story or getting its own Wikipedia page, there is always something going on behind the scenes to make the magic happen.
Overall, this course has taught me a lot about media literacy and creation, not just how to do it but also the ethics involved and the best way to produce media in today’s world. I’m excited to use this newfound knowledge to continue contributing to Wikipedia as well as in my own media creation journey!