Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales Likes To Meet Reporters At ‘Fleabag’ Times Square Hotels

0702wales.jpgWales: Not A Balthazar Fan

One of this week’s lead New York Times Magazine features was a piece about Wikipedia’s effect on the news cycle. All well enough, especially considering the recent Virginia Tech shootings and the coincidental Chris Benoit mystery. But crossing the pond, we encountered the Observer Magazine. Of all the articles the Observer included in their Sunday magazine, one caught our eye: A profile of Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales.

Interestingly, both articles criticize Wales’ choice of meeting places for reporter interviews.

Wales’ taste in “fleabag” and “decrepit” hangouts:

Times: “Wales is a soft-spoken man with the unnerving focus of a person who sees something nobody else in the room sees. The word that comes up most often in his conversation is “interesting,” and that’s as good a key as any to understanding the mind-set of someone who has put in motion a public project so vast that he no longer has any real power over it. Not that such power is anything he covets. In his former life he made a killing as an options trader in Chicago, but his manner is much more monastic than that might suggest. We met at his rather shockingly modest hotel just south of Times Square, and while I could not source this statement well enough to satisfy an ardent Wikipedian, I would feel comfortable wagering that he is the only person on Time magazine’s list of the World’s 100 Most Influential People to have recently passed a night in that particular fleabag.”

Observer: “I hurry a few blocks west, sweating, and find myself at the door of an office so decrepit that it looks hardly more likely a hub of wisdom than the Mexican embassy. Wales is inside, though, sitting beside a knackered desk, his bearded face illuminated by the screen of his Mac. He is surrounded by four studenty young men with novelty items stuck to their computers. No one looks up. ‘Sorry I’m late,’ I say. Wales, who has something of the air of that desperate novelist in the film Sideways, grins, takes a couple of calls on two mobile phones he has wedged under his chin, writes some energetic emails, then sits me down and explains, quietly, his personal mission to ‘bring the sum of human knowledge to every single person on the planet, free, in their own language’.”

Jimmy, we love ya, but next time just take the nice reporters to Balthazar.