A timely snapshot
In the case of Wikipedia, this is emphatically not what the site was meant to do. One of the principles of the site is No Original Research — every fact must have appeared somewhere reputable before it can be repeated. (This cause can seem an obsession as stickler editors patrol the site flagging unattributed facts with the label “citation needed.”)
Yet, time and again Wikipedia has been the place where news has broken, usually from anonymous writers who report a death on a person’s article page, like that of the feminist writer Andrea Dworkin in 2005, or, a year later, the killing of the film director and actress Adrienne Shelley in Greenwich Village.
The lesson seems to be this: as long as there is news, people will try to share it. And new technology promises to turn the process into a tide that can swallow us up, good intentions and all.