Something Wiki This Way Comes!

I have to admit; I took Wikipedia for granted. Though I’m not digitally native, I’ve always considered myself tech-savvy. I have a real knack for locating, sourcing, and accessing content on the internet in just a few clicks and keystrokes. However, editing the source list on The Township Journal entry for the Wikipedia News on Wiki campaign has turned out to be a genuinely humbling online experience. Today, I have a much deeper appreciation and understanding of what it takes to get a Wikipedia article ready for prime-time. 

Screen Grab: NJ WikiProject Newspapers – Steve Martinez

The newspaper entry I chose to edit, The Township Journal, is a New Jersey-based community weekly that we’ve received at our house for the last two decades. Years ago, a delivery person would toss a rolled newspaper into our driveway; now, it arrives by mail two days after its Thursday print run. That means the local event calendar pages aren’t all that helpful for weekend planning, but at least the paper arrives dry and intact. (These days, we get that information online.) I didn’t know much about the backstory of the publication, just that it featured local news that was hard to find anywhere else and its editorial board leaned pretty far to the right, common for local papers in many rural areas. 

My research proved to be both illuminating and confounding. After overcoming my initial fear of “breaking something” on Wikipedia while making the mondotimes entry, I linked edpub to a media company directory called Medioq. None of the other pre-fab links had applicable content, so I moved on to the “fact-finding” part of my quest, and the task at hand became increasingly frustrating. I entered the address, publisher, and managing editor information from the US Newspaper Listings (USNPL) website, only to discover as I entered the hyperlinks here that some of that information is out of date. So I have submitted a form on the USNPL website and asked them to update their listing. I will monitor and see if they do.

Screen Grab: Online change request form. USNPL Website. -Steve Martinez

I linked to Geneology Bank because they utilize the Township Journal obituary archives as an “excellent source of information” when searching for deceased family and friends. I also included a story about a former editor convicted of molesting two young girls. I know I was scraping the bottom of the barrel, but I could not find other secondary sources that even mentioned the newspaper. 

Screen Grab: Township Journal search page on Genealogy Bank -Steve Martinez

It turns out that the Township Journal is part of a group of local newspapers that share stories every week with minimal variation between them. Even when one of their writers, Erika Norton, won awards for her reports on the Opioid Crisis, the papers of record were the sister publications.

Screen Grab: Straus Newspapers listing on Dun & Bradstreet – Steve Martinez

The final two facts I entered pertained to the publisher, the company’s listing on Dun & Bradstreet, and a Forbes article on hyperlocal newspapers that profiled Jeanne Straus, president of Straus News.

So, after hours of research, I’m not convinced that the Township Journal should have its own Wikipedia page. Their footprint seems relatively small, and their content is readily available on their website or the sister publications. The publisher Straus News should be listed on Wikipedia. They are a national leader in community news and recently purchased several NYC-based local newspapers. The company president, Jeanne Straus, should also have her own Wikipedia page. I’m intrigued why the Wikipedia articles about her father (the late R. Peter Straus, famed media proprietor) or her sister (the late Diane Straus, publisher of the American Prospector and Washington Monthly) don’t mention her by name. I’m pretty sure it’s this kind of curious fact that keeps editors in a “Wiki State of mind.” I know I’m hooked.

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