This paper reports first results of a Social Network Analysis (SNA) of Wikinews contributors using the tool TeCFlow. We describe how SNA can provide interesting insights into both the roles of individual users and the attributes of the Wikinews network itself, also in relation to external events. The analysis is based on data we gathered from articles that were posted between November 8, 2004 and November 7, 2005, containing the communication activity of the first year of the Wikinews project.
We find that the SNA concept of centrality is suitable to describe the importance of a user for the Wikinews network and that high centrality corresponds well with the granting of admin status by the Wikinews community. While we could identify a group of highly central contributors, we could not identify particular subject matter experts. This is contrary to the original claim of Wikinews, trying to get “citizen reporters” to directly contribute late-breaking news. We used SNA to determine whether users report about events they personally experienced or rather spread news they discovered in other sources; and find that the latter is true. By doing a SNA-based content analysis of the messages posted, we could also obtain an overview of the most important events of the last year in correct chronological order.