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1/14/2008
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Wikinews Gets Big Interview: Israeli President Shimon Peres

The citizen journalism news site gets its first interview with a head of state.

Wikinews has reached a milestone in its development.

The citizen journalism news site received an invitation, along with more mainstream reporters, to meet with Israeli leaders, and its reporter was the first Wikinews staffer to interview a head of state.

David Shankbone accepted the invitation from the America-Israel Friendship League and Israel's foreign ministry and published an interview with Israeli President Shimon Peres last week.

"Citizen Journalism has come of age and is attracting the attention of leaders worldwide," Wikinews said in announcing the article.

The December interview, published to coincide with Israel's 60th anniversary, covers a wide range of topics, including the Nobel Peace Prize winner's views on Iranian politics, Israel's position in the Middle East, and Peres' disagreement with those who criticize the state of Israeli culture.

The hour-long meeting was an exclusive for Shankbone. It is recounted in a question-and-answer format, after a brief introduction explaining how the interview came about and a little background about Peres with quotes from the Israeli president.

True to Wikinews' origins, the interview begins with questions about Peres' nanotechnology initiatives. Peres compares nanotechnology to the lotus flower, which is self-cleaning, and says he believes the technology will allow governments to monitor movements of armies and supply suits that can block biological and chemical weapons.

It also covers more mainstream topics such as the peace process, the Lebanon War, Israeli history, and the influence of religion and other forces on evolving Israeli culture.

In a bit of a twist, Israeli newspaper El Haaretz covered Shankbone's visit and Wikinews' coverage stemming from the visit.

Other notable sources interviewed by Wikinews reporters include World Wide Web co-inventor Robert Cailliau, New Zealand MP Nick Smith, the Rev. Al Sharpton, and Republican presidential candidates Sam Brownback, Tom Tancredo, and Duncan Hunter.

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