Want to know which areas were worst-hit by the Tsunami, which aid agencies are bringing aid to whom, and what is needed where? If you want to know how you can help, you don't need to comb the newspapers and news sites. You don't even need to pick your way through Google search results. Just go to the Tsunami Help blog. (hat tip to Smart Mobs) Glenn Reynolds points to a number of bloggers who have been covering the Tsunami with firsthand accounts and photos. This includes great stuff by Malaysian blogger Jeff Ooi, who impressed us all at Harvard earlier this month.
Wikinews has a Tsunami news page. This is their first big global breaking story. It will be interesting to compare and contrast over the next few days: which format does a better job at rounding up the details, casualty numbers, other info, etc? Which format sticks with the story and informs the public better with the information it wants and needs? The traditional news updates via Reuters, AP, and CNN.com? Or Wikinews? Hit the "comments" section and let me know what y'all think.
I have myself expressed skepticism in the past about Wikinews. I think the wiki format might be better suited to some kinds of stories than to others. But if the wiki community rises to the occasion, the tsunami story presents a real opportunity for Wikinews to prove its worth. People are going to want a one-stop place to get the full update on everything going on with the Tsunami. Different people are going to be looking for different information. No news roundup can please everybody, but a wiki just might... if it keeps up-to-date fast enough.
We are, of course, assuming that Wikinews is getting its casualty numbers from professional media reports. So one could argue that this is a case of Wikinews complementing the work of professional media, rather than eliminating the need for professional journalists. Which leads me to another question: to remain competitive should the news agencies be setting up wiki pages for the information they're gathering on natural disasters - or any other breaking story for that matter?