Times of Malta is partnering with Malta’s Wikimedia community to host a Wikimedian-in-residence.

Academic Toni Sant will work with Times of Malta editorial staff to identify ways editors and journalists can develop a productive relationship with the Wikimedia Foundation and its various online tools.

The non-profit foundation hosts Wikipedia, the world’s largest encyclopedia, as well as several other offshoots such as Wikidata, a vast open-source data library, and Wikimedia Commons, an archive of photos made available under Creative Commons licences.

As a Wikimedian-in-residence, Sant will help Times of Malta find ways to broaden and deepen its engagement with Wikipedia.

That could range from identifying Times of Malta information that can be made available to the broader Wikimedia community, to educating Times of Malta staff about open data and how their day-to-day work can help contribute to Wiki bodies of knowledge.

The collaboration was officially announced at the Malta Book Festival on Thursday evening. It is the first fully fledged Wikimedian-in-residence project involving a Maltese entity. 

“This will benefit Times of Malta readers, of course, but in the process, media professionals and associated knowledge workers will be developing opportunities to use contemporary tools in crafting their work,” Sant said.

“I am confident that, in time, both journalists and readers will come to appreciate this as a step in the right direction towards securing a vibrant news environment in the ever-evolving world of global communication

Sant, who serves as Director of the Digital Curation Lab at the University of Salford in the UK, is a founding member of Wikimedia Community Malta, a Wikimedia Foundation affiliate.

Times of Malta online editor Bertrand Borg said he was excited to see what would emerge from the 15-month project.

“As Malta’s leading news source and with decades of history in its archives, Times of Malta plays a crucial role in informing people about Malta. We want to empower as many people as possible with that knowledge, which is why we are partnering up with the Wikimedia Foundation, which hosts the world’s largest encyclopaedia.

“This is a highly innovative collaboration – no other news organisation that we know of has adopted a Wikimedian-in-residence – and we still don’t know where it will take us, which is why we’re keen to hear from our readers about the plan,” Borg said.

The Wikimedian-in-residence programme began in the early 2010s with Liam Wyatt and the British Museum. Wyatt focused on making the museum’s collections more broadly available to the general public.

Since then, there have been over 200 Wikimedian-in-residence projects, with most focused on institutions such as museums, libraries, universities and research institutes. The European Centre for Press and Media Freedom hosted a Wikimedian-in-residence between 2015 and 2016.

Are you interested in learning more about this collaboration? Do you have any ideas about how Times of Malta and the Wikimedia Foundation could work together? Email editor@timesofmalta.com with the subject line 'Wikimedia'.

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