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Misadventures In Online Journalism

Soulskill posted about 5 years ago | from the dewey-defeats-obama dept.

The Media 133

An anonymous reader writes "Paul Carr, writing for TechCrunch, has posted his take on some of the flaws inherent to today's fast-paced news ecosystem, where bloggers often get little or no editorial feedback and interesting headlines are passed around faster than ever. His article was inspired by a recent story on ZDNet that accused Yahoo of sharing the names and emails of 200,000 users with the Iranian government; a report that turned out to be false, yet generated a great deal of outrage before it was disproved. Carr writes, 'Trusting the common sense of your writers is all well and good — but when it comes to breaking news, where journalistic adrenaline is at its highest and everyone is paranoid about being scooped by a competitor, that common sense can too easily become the first casualty. Journalists get caught up in the moment; we get excited and we post stupid crap from a foreign language student blog and call it news. And then within half a minute — bloggers being what they are — the news gets repeated and repeated until it becomes fact. Fact that can affect share prices or ruin lives. This is the reality of the blogosphere, where Churchill's remark: that "a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on" is more true, and more potentially damaging, than at any time in history.'"

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133 comments

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For example (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29711037)

The media believing that article recently that was a blog joke, I ferget the topic...someone remind me...

Re:For example (1)

Feminist-Mom (816033) | about 5 years ago | (#29711043)

I think you mean this:

The (real) press-release:
http://www.dragthing.com/blog/?p=285 [dragthing.com]

NBC taking the above seriously:
http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/tech/5318008-is-Too-Dirty-for-the-iPhone-63149437.html [nbcchicago.com]

Re:For example (1)

sopssa (1498795) | about 5 years ago | (#29711085)

If it is on the Internet it must be true!

Re:For example (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29711141)

what a bunch of nutsac scrotums. if these idiots believe everything they read then wtf are they doing on the internet in the first place

WHEN (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29711091)

Red sun rising somewhere through the dense fog.
The portrait of the jaded dawn who had seen it all before.

This day wept on my shoulders.
Still the same as yesterday.
This path seems endless, body is numb.
The soul has lost its flame.
Walking in familiar traces to find my way back home.

So there I was.
Within the sobriety of the immortals.
A semblance of supernatural winds passing through.
The garden sighs, flowers die.

The gate was closed that day, but I was bound to carry on.
She could not see me through the windows.
In dismay, strangest twist upon her lips.
Graven face, she said my name.

Once inside I heard whispers in the parlour.
The gilded faces grin, aware of my final demise.

And I cried, I knew she had lied.
Her obsession had died, it had died.

When can I take you from this place?
When is the word but a sigh?
When is death our lone beholder?
When do we walk the final steps?
When can we scream instead of whisper?

When is the new beginning,
the end of this sad MADRIGAL.

fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29711039)

eat my asshole out you gay homo fags! heterosexual power!!!!

I didn't RTFA, there was no time for me to... (1)

AniVisual (1373773) | about 5 years ago | (#29711051)

Trusting the common sense of your writers is all well and good — but when it comes to breaking news, where journalistic adrenaline is at its highest and everyone is paranoid about being scooped by a competitor, that common sense can too easily become the first casualty. Journalists get caught up in the moment; we get excited and we post stupid crap from a foreign language student blog and call it news.

But this seems to say that the poster committed homicide to get the story out. Quick, spread the word!

Re:I didn't RTFA, there was no time for me to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29711291)

This is an obvious and outright fabrication! ...because commenting on Slashdot really takes that long.

Lies do move fast in the Modern Age (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29711115)

I have non-scientific experience that demonstrates people are simply lower than they used to be. Lies find easy traction in people like that. I'm dismissed with cries of 'old fogy!', but it's there. I tend to blame the NBA in the 80s because there was the first time I noticed it had become fashionable to denigrate your opponent. Such behavior then spread to other sports and the population in general.

Re:Lies do move fast in the Modern Age (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29711373)

I tend to blame the NBA in the 80s because there was the first time I noticed it had become fashionable to denigrate your opponent. Such behavior then spread to other sports and the population in general.

Sure, because they're badass hard-ass thugs, yo, and sportsmanship be da weakness to 'dem. In other words, this is another fine African-American contribution to society. Not to be outdone, they later came up with gangsta rap, thug culture, and ebonics and found that major corporations like MTV were only too happy to sell the latest idiocy to suburban white kids who think they know what the ghetto is like. But it's okay, because George Washington Carver was really good with peanuts a hundred years ago.

Really though. There ARE successful black businessmen and philantropists and intellectuals. You know why they don't become household names and role models while the thug element does? Because they're not the image that is being deliberately and systematically promoted.

and the media's lies about Iran's "nuclear program (0)

Petkov (1011081) | about 5 years ago | (#29711529)

is a total lie, bloggers are the problem yes. Such bullshit.

cuttingthroughthebullshit.blogspot.com is MY blog. Come and tell me what lies I have said.

Re:and the media's lies about Iran's "nuclear prog (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29711589)

Your blog is a bunch of unsubstantiated personal opinions peppered with horrible grammar and spelling. So yes, it's just a typical blog after all, a complete waste of time.

Re:Lies do move fast in the Modern Age (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29712121)

I was talking about the NBA, not blacks. While there might have been a majority of blacks in the NBA (I don't know, I don't follow basketball) I really don't care if the players had black or pink and blue candy striped skin. The behavior was there. Maybe in sports in general but I first saw it in the NBA. I think you're dead on about the corporate sales push though. A colleague told me the NBA once designated a convicted spouse abuser as the MVP. If that's true I rest my case. You're right about the rewards system, but why is the public uptake there? Because there, I'm right.

On posting (4, Insightful)

jamesl (106902) | about 5 years ago | (#29711163)

Better late than wrong. Better never than stupid.

Re:On posting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29711331)

And what's the total ordering?
late > never > stupid > wrong ?

Re:On posting (2, Interesting)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | about 5 years ago | (#29711519)

Wait. Think it through. In the context of commercial online journalism, is late really better than wrong?

Re:On posting (1)

mathx314 (1365325) | about 5 years ago | (#29712087)

Yes. Consider the following completely fake headline that I just made up on the spot:

North Korea Nukes Los Angeles, Millions Feared Dead

If people take the time to verify the story before reposting, they'll see that it is patently false. Nothing happened, everything is fine. If they don't, however, I think we could all picture a scenario of people running through the streets shouting about what had happened, panicked calls to loved ones in LA, and in short chaos running rampant.

Alright, so it's an extreme example, but it is better to be slightly slow in letting people know what's going on than to feed them wrong information.

Re:On posting (1)

osu-neko (2604) | about 5 years ago | (#29712195)

I think you missed GP's point. In the grand scheme of things, you're certainly correct, but again, in the context of commercial online journalism, is late really better than wrong?

What you've just posted a serious consequences for being wrong... for people other than those who stand to make a profit on a good headline. In other words, reasons that are commercially irrelevant to the people responsible for posting the good headline. You didn't post any reason why it's a bad idea for the journalists.

Re:On posting (4, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 5 years ago | (#29712253)

About a month ago MSNBC did a story about racist white men carrying guns at a presidential speech, and showed supposed video of these white guys with guns. It was later learned MSNBC's video was of a *black* man.

There doesn't seem to be any negative repercussion for MSNBC's "mistakes". They just keep raking in the dollars.

Re:On posting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29712655)

Flamebait? Hello? What he posted here is entirely accurate.

MSNBC did show video of a man with an assault rifle slung over his right shoulder, and a pistol hostered on his left hip, with his face obscured. MSNBC's story talked about presumably racist white protesters carrying guns at the presidential speech. The man whose face was obscured was in fact an African American man. Would the story have worked as well if the man with the guns was immediately recognizable as non-white?

More info for your consideration: The man is a member of a group in Arizona called "4409". Google that and check out the top results.

Bottom line... if MSNBC had wanted to do a story on wackos carrying guns to a Presidential speech, well there was plenty there for them to do a story on. But that was not the story MSNBC wanted to do. MSNBC wanted to do a story about racist white protesters carrying guns to a Presidential speech and by golly that's the story they did, never mind that their assault rifle toting star wasn't white and they had to hide that when they first ran the story.

Re:On posting (2, Informative)

mathx314 (1365325) | about 5 years ago | (#29712945)

Here's the video proof, by the way: Youtube link [youtube.com] .

Re:On posting (1)

DarkOx (621550) | about 5 years ago | (#29712651)

A long time ago map makers used to intentionally introduce errors so they could catch people just duplicating their maps rather than going out and measuring things for themselves and publishing the results.

I would image if you posted that headline and some other agencies picked it up you could embarrass them quite a bit about it, and do allot of marketing around how you are the real souce of news and those other guys just copy.

Re:On posting (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | about 5 years ago | (#29713235)

A long time ago map makers used to intentionally introduce errors so they could catch people just duplicating their maps rather than going out and measuring things for themselves and publishing the results.

I believe this was common practice for dictionary publishers, too. They'd introduce a word they made up themselves into the book as a signature of sorts. People who copied their dictionary copied the deliberate error as well, which was evidence they could take to court.

Re:On posting (2, Interesting)

linhares (1241614) | about 5 years ago | (#29713123)

How about the CNN story on proof of Bigfoot [cnn.com] ? Or Cnn's fail in the iranian election? I used to be a giant fan of CNN, today I've moved on to BBC/The Economist/Blogs. Even Slashdot is more reliable than those idiots. And no, I'm not new here: I browse at +4.

Re:On posting (2, Funny)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | about 5 years ago | (#29712523)

North Korea Nukes Los Angeles, Millions Feared Dead

I'm not dead yet!
(Sorry. Couldn't resist).

Re:On posting (1)

linhares (1241614) | about 5 years ago | (#29713149)

SH*T My brother is in there. Any word from the President? We must obliterate those f*ckers to prehistory!

I'll do my part and write a blog post right now.

Re:On posting (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 5 years ago | (#29713749)

If commercial cable news is any indication, late is considered worse than wrong.

Wait (0, Troll)

noundi (1044080) | about 5 years ago | (#29711185)

Journalists get caught up in the moment; we get excited and we post stupid crap from a foreign language student blog and call it news.

Isn't this every journalists job description?
 
Disclaimer: Yes I'm trying to say that journalism is a bullshit job. The non bullshit version of a journalist is called a researcher. A researcher provides data, often in form of experimental results, along with their conclusion. A journalist interprets (they say cites, but anybody who's ever been cited knows this is bullshit) "sources".

Re:Wait (3, Insightful)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | about 5 years ago | (#29711269)

Yes, it's a bullshit job. Then again, so is being a programmer, lawyer, salesman, investment banker, teacher.... Everybody thinks every other profession is less valuable than their own.

Not all journalism is good, just like not all programmers are good. But journalism is not a bullshit job. There are some bad ones out there, but the very idea of journalism is reporting, not interpreting, and that is an extremely valuable service. If you would like your information thoroughly researched and verified experimentally then good luck trying to negotiate the real fast-paced world where getting the latest information has strategic value.

This is not a defense of sloppy reporting or for not verifying sources and facts, it's mostly a rebuttal to an incredibly broad and useless generalization about the profession of journalism.

Re:Wait (0, Flamebait)

noundi (1044080) | about 5 years ago | (#29711359)

Yes, it's a bullshit job. Then again, so is being a programmer, lawyer, salesman, investment banker, teacher.... Everybody thinks every other profession is less valuable than their own.

I'm sorry, is that what you think I meant? That I'm a researcher and hence I think that journalism is bullshit? You must have misunderstood me, I'm not a researcher thus it is not my profession. I still find journalism to be a complete and utter bullshit job and researcher not to be. Also I don't think that other professions are less valuable than mine. You seem to be a very egocentric person who thinks that the world thinks like you do which, I can assure you my friend, is not the case.

Not all journalism is good, just like not all programmers are good. But journalism is not a bullshit job. There are some bad ones out there, but the very idea of journalism is reporting, not interpreting, and that is an extremely valuable service. If you would like your information thoroughly researched and verified experimentally then good luck trying to negotiate the real fast-paced world where getting the latest information has strategic value.

There are poor programmers, there are poor doctors, there are poor pizza bakers, yet I have never in my life seen a good journalist. They only seem to be writing sensationalistic bullshit with the end purpose which is not to report, but is to sell a copy.

This is not a defense of sloppy reporting or for not verifying sources and facts, it's mostly a rebuttal to an incredibly broad and useless generalization about the profession of journalism.

No my dear sir, saying that there are a few journalists out there (whom by the way I would be very curious to know about) that don't write sensationalistic nonsense, and thus the profession of journalism should be respected IS an incredibly broad and useless generalization.
 
Journalism is bullshit, journalists cannot be trusted and they never report the truth unless the truth means monetary gain. They are as biased as your next door neighbour. But please, feel free to disprove me. I have a feeling most people relate with my side of the story already.

Re:Wait (1, Insightful)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | about 5 years ago | (#29711601)

A journalist is a researcher with an additional goal: to provide the general public with the results. Nothing more, nothing less.

I think the biggest problem that you (and many others) are experiencing is that you (and they) expect journalists to report to your biases, rather than the public's, or their own. For example, there are a great many people out there who want to hear about the investigations into terrorist activities, but to a smaller minority, this is perceived as fearmongering to sell papers. Yes, it is superficially to sell papers, but there fear was there first, and it's the public who want that fear addressed.

If your biases aren't mainstream enough, then journalism is just going to seem like a bunch of bullshit.

Re:Wait (1, Interesting)

noundi (1044080) | about 5 years ago | (#29711667)

A journalist is a researcher with an additional goal: to provide the general public with the results. Nothing more, nothing less.

I think the biggest problem that you (and many others) are experiencing is that you (and they) expect journalists to report to your biases, rather than the public's, or their own. For example, there are a great many people out there who want to hear about the investigations into terrorist activities, but to a smaller minority, this is perceived as fearmongering to sell papers. Yes, it is superficially to sell papers, but there fear was there first, and it's the public who want that fear addressed.

If your biases aren't mainstream enough, then journalism is just going to seem like a bunch of bullshit.

You know the biggest problem is that you make, just like Concerned Onlooker up there when he says "Everybody thinks every other profession is less valuable than their own", childish assumptions of people other than yourself. I don't want jounalists to report anything of even remote bias, I want a report to be a report and not a fairytale. Why do you assume that I want to hear what makes me smile? Is it that hard for you to imagine that some people just want to know the plain fucking truth?
If Jimmy, 5, falls down the fucking well I want the head line to say "Jimmy, 5, falls down the well" and not "WELLS SLAUGHTERING OUR CHILDREN, GOVERNMENT IGNORING". There is little room for sense, and more often people, like yourself and Onlooker, draw conclusions based on assumptions which were never justified. This leads to what? That's right -- misunderstandings. And that is what you just did -- misunderstood me.

Re:Wait (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29712607)

I think I understand what you're saying - you think journalism is a bullshit profession, because your personal views are not reinforced by the news reports you read. But the problem for you is that your personal views are not supported by day to day facts and events, and this is what you're reading about. Journalists can only report what is happening - it's not their job to make up facts to suit some bias.

You seem very upset right now, and I think you're too emotionally invested in the discussion to be able to make any positive contribution. Maybe you should step away from the computer and go outside for a few hours?

Re:Wait (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | about 5 years ago | (#29714451)

You know the biggest problem is that you make, just like Concerned Onlooker up there when he says "Everybody thinks every other profession is less valuable than their own", childish assumptions of people other than yourself.

Uh, OK. I assume that you are referring to my hypothesis about people's problems with journalists? Consider this research. ;)

I don't want jounalists to report anything of even remote bias.

Yeah, but then you miss out on reading about issues with any contention or controversy behind them. The bias is non-removable in most cases.

Why do you assume that I want to hear what makes me smile? Is it that hard for you to imagine that some people just want to know the plain fucking truth?

I hypothesise (since you don't like the word "assume") that you (involuntarily) prefer to hear things more in line with your own biases. Of course, there's no way for me to determine from this short encounter what exactly that entails, but you're starting to give me a picture...

If Jimmy, 5, falls down the fucking well I want the head line to say "Jimmy, 5, falls down the well" and not "WELLS SLAUGHTERING OUR CHILDREN, GOVERNMENT IGNORING".

Yeah, but what if the government is ignoring it? If wells are that dangerous, then surely the government should be paying attention, right? Otherwise something is going wrong in the system.

Now, of course, you probably think that presumably one kid falling down one well shouldn't cause a government to lose sleep, but there are plenty who disagree with you. The very omission of such details like government response would be biased against their own interests.

There is little room for sense, and more often people, like yourself and Onlooker, draw conclusions based on assumptions which were never justified. This leads to what? That's right -- misunderstandings. And that is what you just did -- misunderstood me.

You assume that I drew assumptions about you, and that I generated a misunderstanding? Well, I suppose your assumption is not entirely unjustified, but carefully reading my would tell you that I wasn't taking it as a foregone conclusion; it's a hypothesis, and I am still testing it. Still, if you're calling people on assumptions, you should probably watch yourself first.

Dan Rather *still* works as a "journalist" (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29711371)

And "journalists" as a whole have YET to excoriate him for passing off as authentic documents in the exact same font as the default of MS Word [wikipedia.org] that were faxed in from a random Kinkos by a nutcase with an ax to grind.

That should tell us all we need to know about journalistic "standards".

Since a real-life big steaming pile of feces from a male cow doesn't try to pass itself off as something better, I'd say calling journalism a "bullshit job" is an insult to bullshit.

Re:Dan Rather *still* works as a "journalist" (2, Funny)

noundi (1044080) | about 5 years ago | (#29711593)

I'd say calling journalism a "bullshit job" is an insult to bullshit.

You know -- if there was a foundation representing the rights of male cow fecal matter I would apologize this instant. I'm serious -- you make a very valid point.

Re:Dan Rather *still* works as a "journalist" (1, Informative)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | about 5 years ago | (#29711761)

This is a joke, right? Dan Rather was castigated by the media at the time. Your attempt at Swift Boating the entire field of journalism is gutsy, however.

Re:Dan Rather *still* works as a "journalist" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29712137)

This is a joke, right? Dan Rather was castigated by the media at the time. Your attempt at Swift Boating the entire field of journalism is gutsy, however.

Yeah? Then why is Dan Rather still working as a journalist?

Re:Wait (2, Insightful)

RocketRabbit (830691) | about 5 years ago | (#29711783)

It's not useless. What passes for journalism nowadays is rehashing wire feeds and making reports that are editorial in nature. Perception shaping is where the profession is, and always was. It's just that they have been dropping the facade with increasing rapidity, or the quality of graduates is declining.

Journalism is about lickspittle flacks following Obama around. It's about telling us what and how to think. It's a bunch of Judith Millers and Jeff Gannons all scrambling over each other to lick the pus infested butthole of the people in power, in hopes of getting another paycheck. And as they are realizing their model is irrelevant, and the people they wanted to sell dead trees to aren't interested in their rehashed, editorial thought shaping, they are begging to be put on the dole so society won't crumble when they are gone! That's fucking audacity.

I am agnostic, and the only news source I even slightly trust these days is the CSM. They seem to realize that reportage is important, and we can make the editorials up in our mind. Other news I get over shortwave radio and the internet, but I don't really trust it. However I would trust Pravda over the New York Times any day.

Yes, there are some journalists who try their damnedest to report what they see, and attempt to do so with integrity. But they are mostly working for bullshit artists of the first rate.

Re:Wait (1, Troll)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about 5 years ago | (#29713917)

But journalism is not a bullshit job. There are some bad ones out there, but the very idea of journalism is reporting, not interpreting, and that is an extremely valuable service.

If the vast majority of journalists are bad, produce poor work and actively damage serious discourse in our society, why should we care if there are a few diamonds in the rough?

Journalism is a bullshit job. They deal in bullshit, write bullshit, reprint bullshit, make up bullshit, bullshit about bullshit, and generally do an awful job at what they ostensibly claim to be doing. The reality is that most bloggers are at least on par with journalistic mainstream because what most journalists produce a) isn't very difficult to write and b) isn't of a very high standard.

This is nothing like programmers or actors or teachers or even lawyers. Each of these professions produces something of quantifiable worth; computer code, a performance, educated students, a legal representation. What do journalists produce? Reports? I can have PR men do that? Opinion? I can ask people on a park bench for more insight and expect to get it. Investigative journalism? Don't make me laugh.

The journalist is a jack of all trades and a master of none. Even the best their profession can produce can do little better investigation or writing than can be had from high school students and bloggers. What do good journalists go on to become? Editors. Writers. PR men. Wine reviewers. There is no journalistic gold standard, no technical training, no solid scale of merit. Journalists need no qualifications, and gain none over the course of their careers. Their skills are as nebulous as their results.

Journalism is the quintessential bullshit profession.

Now I'm sympathetic to the idea of professional and valuable journalists. But they are essentially a myth, or are so diluted that they may as well be. Journalists are not the fourth estate so lauded in political discourse. Where they are not removed from politics entirely, they can be found in intimate familiarity with those in power. In both cases, they wield significant power in an of themselves, and are frequently found abusing it. Lives, industries and indeed free countries have all been destroyed under the pen of journalists. Few have ever been created by them. That job lies with the pamphleteer, the writer, the philosopher and perhaps now the blogger.

There is a theory of journalism. But there is the practice of journalism. We are better off without the latter.

Re:Wait (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29711765)

You're confusing "reporter" with "journalist". Typically, a journalist is suppose to also be an investigator/researcher. A reporter... reports. "Hey, I was told this, so I'm telling you." kind of thing. That's what's 95% of current media, reporters. There are few journalists left... despite what they might want to try and call themselves.

Re:Wait (1)

r7 (409657) | about 5 years ago | (#29711819)

Isn't this every journalists job description?

Yes and no. Journalists in major (US) media outlets write the stories their editors tell them to write, and they write them from the perspective their editors tell them to as well. Senior editors, in turn, are pressured by accounting to cater to the perspective of major advertisers. Nothing new here.

In most newspapers land use and autos are the primary advertising, so, it should be no surprise that these two special interest groups are treated favorably by local print media. These hidden agendas are evident, for example, in the San Francisco Chronicle's full-time support for real-estate development. You'll never read a letter to the editor criticizing any development in the SF Chron (since Herb Caen died, and his column was edited before printing on many occasions). The San Jose Mercury News is just as biased with regards to automobiles. They pan mass transit and pump road construction at every opportunity.

For these reasons I no longer read either paper, not even their Sunday editions. I figure that if they apply such biases for direct advertisers they probably favor other special interests for other (monitarized) incentives.

With regards to fact checking, it is incidents like this that make it possible to distinguish between reliable and unreliable news sources. The quantity and quality of false reporting drives my search for quality and accuracy in blogs, print, and podcasts (forget anything video-based, that's a lost cause). It will all work out in the end as discerning readers will end up with a list of RSS feeds that are both more accurate and less biased than any of the traditional, commercial news sources (including NPR, which has no competent tech reports thanks to Microsoft's "sponsorship").

Not the biggest problem we face in journalism (3, Insightful)

HangingChad (677530) | about 5 years ago | (#29711195)

Journalists get caught up in the moment; we get excited and we post stupid crap from a foreign language student blog and call it news. And then within half a minute -- bloggers being what they are -- the news gets repeated and repeated until it becomes fact. Fact that can affect share prices or ruin lives.

That doesn't even address how that problem compounds when the news organization in question has a political agenda or has their talking points of the day handed down from political operatives in exile. There's no allegiance to the truth or journalistic integrity. Fact checking is secondary to staying on message, even if the facts get kicked around in the process. No corrections for stories that turn out to be false, no apologies when lives (or countries) are ruined. It's not a news organization, it's a front for propaganda.

I think a news organization promoting itself as say fair and balanced while hiding an agenda behind a veneer of respectability is far greater threat to both individuals and the country than the occasional weekend early release accident.

Re:Not the biggest problem we face in journalism (3, Interesting)

causality (777677) | about 5 years ago | (#29711571)

Fact checking is secondary to staying on message, even if the facts get kicked around in the process. No corrections for stories that turn out to be false, no apologies when lives (or countries) are ruined. It's not a news organization, it's a front for propaganda.

I disagree on just a single minor point. The fact checking is important. Modern propaganda techniques are much, much more sophisticated than blatantly lying. Usually the media pushes a political agenda by selectively omitting facts it finds inconvenient while giving high visibility to those it finds desirable. This process is at least as misleading as straight-up lying yet it never requires a single untrue statement. The critical thinking skills needed to detect this kind of framing are much more subtle, and thus more rare, than what it would take to Google a true/false type of fact. For that reason, it is often more misleading than a lie would have been because the lie could be directly falsified.

A perfect example of this would be the use of guns for self-defense and home defense. You'd think, from watching the news, that a law-abiding citizen who legally carries a gun has never stopped a crime. You'd think, from watching the news, that every time a gun is used for self-defense the result is a shootout. Dig a little and you find that in cases where a legal gun was used by a civilian to stop a crime, the news article will say something like "but the attacker was subdued and later arrested" and won't tell you how this happened. Dig some more and you'll see that they give explicit edge-of-your-seat details when an unarmed person wrestles a criminal to the ground, or calls the police and begs for help, or is victimized by a criminal. By comparison, they're strangely quiet when someone refuses to be victimized. Then consider that every dictatorship which has ever occurred in a modern, industrialized nation considered the confiscation of guns to be a very high priority.

The actual agenda isn't difficult to discern. It's your basic statism, though it's often made out to be more complex than it really is. By that I mean people talk about "liberal" and "conservative" and throw around all of these labels. However, both "sides" want to expand the power and size of government. Their only differences are the justifications; one does so for mainly social reasons, the other for economic and military reasons. Yet the result is the same, so any choice provided by the constant (and constantly encouraged) bickering between the two "sides" is illusory. We the people have so far been too dumb to understand the full implications of that, because we'd rather be fat and stupid and occupy our time with sports and entertainment and the latest shiny thing (and those things aren't so bad, just when they're all we care about) because that is the mark of a good consumer. Thus our opinions are as pre-packaged and intended for public consumption as our news stories, and we really do seem to be getting the government we deserve, unfortunately.

Re:Not the biggest problem we face in journalism (2, Interesting)

badasscat (563442) | about 5 years ago | (#29711763)

A perfect example of this would be the use of guns for self-defense and home defense. You'd think, from watching the news, that a law-abiding citizen who legally carries a gun has never stopped a crime.

No, what you'd think - if you actually read more news than you obviously have - is the truth. That statistically, law-abiding citizens who carry guns are much more likely to be shot dead [newscientist.com] - often with their own guns or those owned by their loved ones [ldnews.com] - than law-abiding citizens who don't.

You are a perfect example of those who believe journalism is a bullshit profession because your own personal views are not reinforced by the news you read. But the problem for you is that your personal views are not supported by day to day facts and events, and this is what you're reading about. While I doubt any journalist has ever said or written that a gun-toting citizen has "never" stopped a crime, statistically it is much more likely that they will be a victim of gun violence than the opposite, and that is likely what you are reading about - because it just happens a lot more often. Journalists can only report what is happening - it's not their job to make up facts to suit some bias. That is in fact what this thread is all about.

Re:Not the biggest problem we face in journalism (3, Insightful)

RocketRabbit (830691) | about 5 years ago | (#29711871)

Actually you'll find that if you omit suicides from the calculation people hardly ever shoot themselves or loved ones. All these studies count suicide but don't come right out and say it because the people behind them have an agenda - to prove to us that guns are bad through omission.

That you quoted a report that includes the suicidal and didn't mention it, makes me wonder if the wool hasn't been pulled over your own eyes. Then again, the first linked article explicitly quotes Daniel Webster and if you had any grounding in reality and knowledge of his insidious agenda you'd probably not have made that error.

Almost without exception, when a state recognizes the right of its citizenry to carry concealed, crime goes down. Usually, it goes WAY down. However take away the guns, and more people get shot (Australia is a great example of this) or stabbed and the journalists out there don't ever seem to make this correlation.

Re:Not the biggest problem we face in journalism (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29712847)

Investigating the Link Between Gun Possession and Gun Assault [ajph.org]
Branas et al., 10.2105/AJPH.2008.143099,
American Journal of Public Health.

Abstract:

Objectives. We investigated the possible relationship between being shot in an assault and possession of a gun at the time.

Methods. We enrolled 677 case participants that had been shot in an assault and 684 population-based control participants within Philadelphia, PA, from 2003 to 2006. We adjusted odds ratios for confounding variables.

Results. After adjustment, individuals in possession of a gun were 4.46 (P<.05) times more likely to be shot in an assault than those not in possession. Among gun assaults where the victim had at least some chance to resist, this adjusted odds ratio increased to 5.45 (P<.05).

Conclusions. On average, guns did not protect those who possessed them from being shot in an assault. Although successful defensive gun uses occur each year, the probability of success may be low for civilian gun users in urban areas. Such users should reconsider their possession of guns or, at least, understand that regular possession necessitates careful safety countermeasures.

Huh. I guess fact-checking is important.

Re:Not the biggest problem we face in journalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29713125)

That abstract does not provide nearly enough details to evaluate their methodology.

On the face of it, it seems like a self-fulling prophecy situation since their two groups were "those who have been shot" and "general sample of the population." It is hard to see how the later is a valid control group given the former. But even if 'confounding variables' really accounts for the problems with selection other questions still remain: Did they count assaults that weren't reported to the police? Did they count assaults that were stopped because the victim informed the potential assailant that he was armed?

Re:Not the biggest problem we face in journalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29713647)

This is beside the point, though. The OP is characterizing the study as of a type that fails to take suicides into account, which means that he either failed to check the facts, which is, as I note, important, or is (consciously or not) engaging in exactly the sort of propagandization as he describes, "selectively omitting facts it finds inconvenient while giving high visibility to those it finds desirable," which is indeed how everyone tends to experience the facts.

I agree that these are valid questions to pose to the authors of the study. However, presuming that the journal is at least legitimate, their results are not easily ignored. They concluded that a person with a gun was four times as likely to be shot. Have you calculated what percentage of non-injurious or prevented assaults would need to go unreported for it to be the case that, contrary to this impression, a gun was an asset rather than a liability?

This isn't a debate I'm interested in, I'm just pointing out the math.

Re:Not the biggest problem we face in journalism (2, Insightful)

izomiac (815208) | about 5 years ago | (#29713915)

You're doing exactly what the GGGP pointed out, selectively omitting facts (albeit possibly unintentionally). The study is true only for what was studied, and one needs to be cautious in extrapolating to the general population. E.g., how many gang members were in the non-gun carrying control group? Why are they implying causation at the end, when the data mentioned only suggests a correlation?

I'm a bit skeptical since I recently heard the local forensic pathologist speak about gun shot wounds. Apparently, most of them in my city are due to gang violence, domestic violence, and hunting accidents. The first two seem that they'd strongly influence the aforementioned study. Demographics also come into play, since something like 15-20% of Americans are uninsured compared to 90% of gun shot victims. That said, the pathologist was fairly anti-gun ownership (unsurprising given his job). His data made me lean in the opposite direction though.

But, since I don't want to get too caught up with trying to minimize a single piece of evidence, how does pointing to that single piece of evidence refute the GP's point about selection omission? If you want a decent demonstration of that effect, Google "Kennesaw, Georgia". It's a town that enacted a mandatory gun ownership law in the '80s and had crime rates drop. Surely this is a notable point in the gun debate, but seems to be rarely mentioned outside of conservatives preaching to the choir.

Re:Not the biggest problem we face in journalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29714463)

You might not understand the context: the study I cite is the study discussed in The New Scientist article linked to in the grandparent comment to mine. I hadn't meant to introduce it as evidence independently. My point has been that the parent comment by the author of the great-grandparent to mine (this comment's grandparent... is there not a better system!?) was, ironically, failing to check the facts, and using the same sort of techniques he describes as being used by the media.

My previous response [slashdot.org] to another Anonymous Coward probably addresses your own points well enough:

This is beside the point, though. The OP is characterizing the study as of a type that fails to take suicides into account, which means that he either failed to check the facts, which is, as I note, important, or is (consciously or not) engaging in exactly the sort of propagandization as he describes, "selectively omitting facts it finds inconvenient while giving high visibility to those it finds desirable," which is indeed how everyone tends to experience the facts.

I agree that these are valid questions to pose to the authors of the study. However, presuming that the journal is at least legitimate, their results are not easily ignored. They concluded that a person with a gun was four times as likely to be shot. Have you calculated what percentage of non-injurious or prevented assaults would need to go unreported for it to be the case that, contrary to this impression, a gun was an asset rather than a liability?

This isn't a debate I'm interested in, I'm just pointing out the math.

If there's a general effect as you describe occurring in Kennesaw, Georgia, then there's more than enough money in the gun lobby to fund legitimate research.

Re:Not the biggest problem we face in journalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29713033)

All of a sudden, my tin-foil hat approach of not trusting anyone makes a bit more sense, eh?

Re:Not the biggest problem we face in journalism (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 5 years ago | (#29713883)

Some interesting writing on this very issue: Chapter 14 of this [google.com] is an interesting few pages on the subject. The short version: having a gun made a street-smart kid from the Bronx ignore what he knew about how to keep himself safe in dangerous neighborhoods.

Mark Twain was struggling to get his shoes on (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29711229)

While Churchill came up with the "getting his pants on" quote.

Kinda ironic (3, Interesting)

bomanbot (980297) | about 5 years ago | (#29711281)

No wonder that this sort of article is posted on Techcrunch, those guys clearly have a lot of experience in that regard! ;-)

And no, I do not want to flame, they even use an older Techcrunch story as an example in TFA. They really speak from experience.

Re:Kinda ironic (1)

wshs (602011) | about 5 years ago | (#29711425)

It's kinda like how Techcrunch keeps posting BS articles about Last.fm, and then censoring the comments about it. Top journalism there.

"Fake but accurate" had NOTHING to do with online (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29711313)

No editing is going to save biased propaganda passing itself off as "news", of which "fake but accurate" Dan Rather is probably just the most egregious example of many.

Re:"Fake but accurate" had NOTHING to do with onli (1)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | about 5 years ago | (#29711777)

You forgot all of Fox news. And maybe Robert Novak.

The Mainstream Media are worse (1)

MrSteveSD (801820) | about 5 years ago | (#29711319)

"And then within half a minute -- bloggers being what they are -- the news gets repeated and repeated until it becomes fact." So what happens when Reuters sends out inaccurate information? It gets reproduced around the world very quickly and they certainly do make mistakes. As for editorial feedback, large media organisations seem to be far worse at taking any notice of their readers than bloggers are. For example, if you write to the BBC pointing out some howling mistake, you might be really lucky and get a reply. If they correct it at all, they will simply quietly correct it without any visible admission to the readers that a mistake was made.

Re:The Mainstream Media are worse (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29711539)

Bloggers do not care about integrity, nor do they care about facts. They hear something about something online, then instantly form an opinion without getting any more facts, and if the facts that they do have disagree with what they want them to be, they merely change the facts to suit them. Bloggers like to call themselves journalists, but they know nothing about real-world journalism. To even associate bloggers with journalists does the world of journalism an injustice. Bloggers are nothing more than poorly edited opinion columns, except that bloggers can print whatever they want, while in a newspaper opinion column, lies cause a letter not to be printed. Fuck bloggers and the 'blogosphere.'

Re:The Mainstream Media are worse (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | about 5 years ago | (#29714285)

Yep, everyone knows that Anonymous Coward is who to go to to get the real facts!

Re:The Mainstream Media are worse (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | about 5 years ago | (#29712105)

Reuters issues apologies and if it is a big mistake has a whole article making the correction. Bloggers aren't expected to do anything. And often they don't.

As well if Reuters makes a mistake it is because of something in the field, a misunderstanding or a commander lying. Maybe a miscount or a typo very very rarely a photographer going rogue. It is very very unlikely the Reuters will ever release an article that is wrong due to a lack of fact checking. And i doubt you can give a single example in the last 20years that involves source amnesia. This completely protects them from this problem, and in fact makes Reuters on of the only things bringing us real facts.

The problem showcased in the summary is because Bloggers are very rarely investigative journalists, what this means is their data comes from someplace else. Because they have no standards they often take anything as a source, even other Bloggers they don't know. This would be the equivalent of CNN lifting articles from the opinion section of MSNBC. While it is possible the opinion section could be filled with truth and gold there is not even a remote guarantee. Lately, taking a page from bloggers news stations actually have started to do 'research' the same way as Bloggers, and are lifting articles from the blogosphere. This is a horrible source that clearly isn't to be trusted but they are lazy. Now what is happening is that News AND Blogs have turned into GOSSIP. The only advantage News has is that sometimes they have some journalistic standards, atleast many of them spent years in university for this so their is a chance. The advantage blogs have is that their is a comment system with ratings, like /. making lots of mistakes they are often corrected if you read through the first few pages.

But Reuters is completely different, there are about 4~5 wire feed sources and maybe a halfdozen trusted inside bloggers and press releases. This makes up the entirety of our trusted news sources. Once you can show me a blogosphere that has 10,000 fulltime people willing to risk their lives to get information from the places we need it, dangerous battlegrounds, ranking politicians and so on. Then it might be ready to take over. But if we lost our trusted sources now, we would be blind, we would only have worthless gossip to work with and we would be completely unable to build our own opinions.

Please feel free to like blogs more than mainstream news. But please dear lord don't rank blogs over AP or reuters. There is no sense in that at all, you are making a fatal mistake.

Re:The Mainstream Media are worse (1)

mdalal97 (256621) | about 5 years ago | (#29712727)

mod parent up.

Re:The Mainstream Media are worse (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | about 5 years ago | (#29714329)

And what is a "blogger"? A blog is a piece of technology, so anyone could be a "blogger". Slashdot is a blog. Mainstream news sites have blogs. So your rant - and this article - is just a vague generalisation that might be true for some sources, and completely untrue for others.

Reuters issues apologies and if it is a big mistake has a whole article making the correction. Bloggers aren't expected to do anything. And often they don't.

Ah I see - so you compare Reuters specifically, to "Bloggers"? What is "Bloggers" - is this some competing website or something?

No, let's compare like with like. If we take "news sites" - you can bet there are those that don't correct themselves. OTOH, I have seen blogs that do update in response to corrections (I do this myself even for my own personal journal, for heavens sake).

The problem showcased in the summary is because Bloggers are very rarely investigative journalists, what this means is their data comes from someplace else.

But you also have to remember that most of the news is very rarely investigative journalism, so all of the criticisms about "Bloggers" applies to journalism too. Most news is just copy and pasted around the news sites, with zero fact checking. Pick a story, do a Google - it's astonishing how similar the articles are, but often with petty word changes so they can't be accused of doing an exact copy. And there have been countless times when false or misleading information has been propogated. It's like a bad game of Chinese Whispers. And the number of people who read mainstream news sites is far higher than random blogs.

But even worse, the article talks about lies that start out by the media, and bloggers are getting blamed for merely transmitting it!:

Journalists get caught up in the moment; we get excited and we post stupid crap from a foreign language student blog and call it news. And then within half a minute bloggers being what they are the news gets repeated and repeated until it becomes fact.

So what now? It's the readers who are to blame for passing on the news, and not the journalists for talking crap and not fact checking in the first place?

Re:The Mainstream Media are worse (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | about 5 years ago | (#29714355)

Hear hear. The number of mistakes I've seen in areas I've known about is astonishing. So just consider that it is likely just the same for all the things I don't know about? And the BBC is one of the better ones...

But no, let's blame some vague illdefined generalised term "Bloggers", to shift attention for the unprofessional attitude of journalism.

I saw an interesting case today with the death of some Boyzone member - no I don't care about the band :) But it's astonishing how all the articles are basically copies of each other, with subtle changes in wording. They also quoted his last Twitter entry, which had the word "focussing", which the news articles quoted with "[sic]" after it, to imply a spelling mistake. Except "focussing" is a valid spelling! So you had all these moronic journalists copy and pasting this quote, with the incorrect "sic" in it, because they aren't able to even do the level of journalism to check out his Twitter account himself, or look a word up in a dictionary...

http://www.newssniffer.co.uk/ [newssniffer.co.uk] is a cool site for seeing how articles are edited, btw. E.g., here [newssniffer.co.uk] the BBC finally get a clue and edit out the "sic".

Quote attribution incorrect - C. H. Spurgeon's (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29711355)

It is ironic that the summery which blasts the misinformation of bloggers gets quote attribution wrong: "A lie will go round the world while truth is pulling its boots on" is usually attributed to Mark Twain but the quotation was delivered in a sermon titled "Joesph attacked by the archers" in 1855 by C. H. Spurgeon! - Most misinformation I guess. ;-) - http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0017.htm

Re:Quote attribution incorrect - C. H. Spurgeon's (3, Informative)

clickety6 (141178) | about 5 years ago | (#29712441)

And even then the quotation is based on an earlier proverb and there are earlier printed versions of it e.g. "Falsehood flies, and the truth comes limping after it" Jonathan Swift, The Examiner, 9 Nov. 1710 or "Falsehood will fly from Maine to Georgia, while truth is pulling her boots on", Portland (Me.) Gazette, 5 Sept 1820

Re:Quote attribution incorrect - C. H. Spurgeon's (1)

captn ecks (525113) | about 5 years ago | (#29714003)

This aphorism sure gets around. More from www.twainquotes.com/Lies:
A lie can travel halfway round the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.
- This quote has been attributed to Mark Twain, but it has never been verified as originating with Twain. This quote may have originated with Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-92) who attributed it to an old proverb in a sermon delivered on Sunday morning, April 1, 1855. Spurgeon was a celebrated English fundamentalist Baptist preacher. His words were: "A lie will go round the world while truth is pulling its boots on."

Re:Quote attribution incorrect - C. H. Spurgeon's (1)

paulcarr (1654469) | about 5 years ago | (#29714467)

You're right of course that the quote dates back through the ages, with a whole lot of variations. When I wrote the TechCrunch post I chose to quote the Churchill variation ("pants on") because it's my favourite. I didn't mean to imply that the original thought was his, just that choice of words. Also, to the commenter who pointed out that "pants" isn't the preferred term in Britain (trousers is): I'm British so I know you're right, but there *are* Brits of a certain generation/class who might still say "pants". Churchill apparently was one of them. Some really good comments here, btw. Paul

Facts? (0)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 5 years ago | (#29711399)

It doesn't become fact just because it spreads person to person. Anywhere else, that would be called a rumor. But when it spreads blog to blog, it's different? Just because it's being written down instead of spoken doesn't change the truthfulness of the statements.

Re:Facts? (2, Insightful)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | about 5 years ago | (#29711537)

Ever hear the saying "Tell a lie often enough and it will become true?" That's what TFA is talking about.

It's not that it actually -is- true, it's obviously not. But people believe and act on the lie as if it were true, so it might as well be as far as anybody but those who know the truth is concerned. Retractions are often met with skepticism, making getting the truth out much more difficult.

It's like in the office, if someone starts a rumor that Suzie has been giving the boss a little "extra service" after hours, and neither Suzie nor the boss hear about it until after it has spread around the whole company, it is too late to stop it. There likely isn't any solid proof one way or another, and anyway the truth does not spread like a lie does. You don't get a wildfire of "Did you hear Suzie really hasn't been doing anything with the boss?" spreading around, it just doesn't happen. So at the very least the lie has damaged Suzie's reputation the most in our culture, but if it goes far enough Management could decide to fire one or both of them based on the rumor.

Sensationalist journalism is simply the office rumor magnified a thousand times, with the potential for destructin a thousand times greater.

It would be really great if people just regarded everything they heard with a nice big dose of skepticism. "Yahoo released 200,000 people's identity info? Says who?" That would be a great start, because when it turns out it's some guy with a blog, who got his info from some kid with a blog in another country, the credibility starts to drop and people stop believing it.

Some journalists check their facts, others don't (4, Insightful)

nbauman (624611) | about 5 years ago | (#29711481)

I've been a journalist since 1978, and the most important thing I learned was to go back to the source and check my facts. Most bloggers don't check their facts. But don't feel bad. A lot of New York Times reporters don't check their facts either.

Every journalist learns quickly that you hear some shocking story, you call up the accused to check it out, and the story often turns out to be misleading, misinterpreted, wrong or downright lie (think weapons of mass destruction).

I write about medicine. I once did a story on needle exchange programs. http://www.nasw.org/users/nbauman/needlex.htm [nasw.org] The scientific evidence seemed overwhelming that needle exchanges saved lives, but a lot of doctors, and politicians, were obstructing them. I spoke to Herbert Kleber, who was supposed to be one of the bad guys who was obstructing them. To my surprise, he had changed his position because of the weight of the scientific evidence. Happens all the time. But I see bloggers attacking people for things they don't actually believe, because they didn't check their facts.

We old guys have been working to develop what you now call the Internet for >60 years. Independent journalists like George Seldes and I.F. Stone used to do a great job, and we were looking forward to the great day when a lone journalist could publish a newsletter without printing and postage costs. It's been good and bad.

The most obvious flaw that I notice in blogs is that most of them -- but not all -- don't check their facts. It's a big game of telephone. Some blogger cuts and pastes a paragraph from another blog, which came from another blog ... which came from the New York Times. I can read the NYT myself. If you want to add value to that story, you can check the NYT's facts, and in my experience, you have a pretty good chance of finding them wrong. Make a fucking phone call to the original source and see if the NYT got it right. Or check out a different source. If you want a lesson in journalism, examine their health care reform coverage.

It's like replicating DNA. A bunch of enzymes copies a stand of DNA, and then another bunch of enzymes checks the duplicated strand to make sure it's copied right. If you don't have error-checking enzymes, you wind up with (sometimes disastrous) mistakes.

There are a lot of blogs that are written by people who have such a good command of the facts, have such expertise, that they're not likely to make mistakes -- they've already checked out the facts, for their academic work or their books, like Juan Cole and Glen Greenwald.

But most journalists aren't experts. They have to check their facts with the experts. That's the game. No matter how smart I am, I interview and quote somebody who knows more than me.

The best Internet journalism that I follow is http://www.democracynow.org/ [democracynow.org] Notice how Democracy Now interviews people on the other side all the time.

A blogger who does nothing more than copy a story from a major news source like the NYT, or, even worse, from a blogger who wouldn't meet the reliable source standards of Wikipedia, is just adding noise, not useful information.

If you want to add useful information to the Internet, you're not going to find it on the Internet, obviously. Call up an expert and get some new information. And then call up an expert who disagrees with him, to make sure he hasn't given you a sales job.

Re:Some journalists check their facts, others don' (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | about 5 years ago | (#29711653)

I've been a journalist since 1978, and the most important thing I learned was to go back to the source and check my facts. Most bloggers don't check their facts. But don't feel bad. A lot of New York Times reporters don't check their facts either.

And there you have it. The only difference between a blogger and a journalist is the organization backing up the latter.

Journals, or dailies if you will, are nothing more than web logs. They have no more moral value, inherent, by virtue of being printed on paper rather than displayed on a screen. If a blogger does his research, names his sources, and stays honest, he's a journalist just as much as an employee of a major metropolitan newspaper.
We just need a few bloggers to gain respectability through sustained effort.

Re:Some journalists check their facts, others don' (1)

r7 (409657) | about 5 years ago | (#29711847)

The best Internet journalism that I follow is http://www.democracynow.org/ [democracynow.org] Notice how Democracy Now interviews people on the other side all the time.

Don't forget the Columbia Review of Journalism, http://www.cjr.org/ [cjr.org]

Re:Some journalists check their facts, others don' (1)

gizmonic (302697) | about 5 years ago | (#29711869)

Yes, but that requires work and thinking, and no one wants to do either of those anymore. Too little time anyway what with the kid's soccer practice and music lessons, and getting some time in at the gym and don't forget those new sitcoms on tv, after putting in a 50-60 hour work week. We're a nation of people who can't form a thought deeper than a two minute soundbite and you expect them to actually do research and weigh facts and report in a blog both sides of an issue? Good luck with that.

Re:Some journalists check their facts, others don' (1)

linhares (1241614) | about 5 years ago | (#29713585)

two minute soundbite

140 characters, the triumph of humanity [apple.com]

more important than checking facts (1)

freshfromthevat (135461) | about 5 years ago | (#29711895)

The most important thing any journalist can do is declare the source of the article, i.e. identify that it is from an eye-witness, or a source article (by name or link) so interested people can go back to the source if the writer is not the originator of the "fact". This would really flatten out the delivery tree because any journalist could then go back to the first textual copy of the story and short out all of the bad bits that were added in between.

Re:more important than checking facts (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | about 5 years ago | (#29712143)

All roads lead to reuters? If you read stories from actual media, ie not blogs they DO do this, and you can follow most things back to reuters and AP. Fox and MSNBC both might link to the same reuters info amusingly enough. Or if it is particularly charged they link to nothing and you can tell right away that it is going to be a blathering opinion piece.

Re:Some journalists check their facts, others don' (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 5 years ago | (#29713429)

A journalist's favorite site is a hardcore lefty news organization. Nice. And how dare you impugn the honor of the New York Times, all their stories are fact-checked. At least, that's what I was angrily told last time I dared to question the veracity of the Grey Lady on slashdot.

Re:Some journalists check their facts, others don' (1)

SQL Error (16383) | about 5 years ago | (#29714173)

What you fail to grasp is that bloggers aren't mere journalists, they very often are experts in a particular field - ScienceBlogs [scienceblogs.com] being a good example, but just one of many - and they can tell where and how the blessed New York Times got it wrong (which is pretty much always, on any subject of even moderate complexity) without having to call anyone.

They are your fact checkers.

Bioggers get no editorial feedback? (1)

physburn (1095481) | about 5 years ago | (#29711497)

Isn't that what the comments boxes are for. Many bloggers are naturally opionated people, who don't often change the views, or have particular views to present. With such people factoids (proven or otherwise), that accord with there opinons get passed on, and factoid that are discordant with the opinons either get dropped or argued about. Fortanantly there are so many bloggers with so many different opinon that factoids will be argued about until they been proven or otherwise (most of the time). The early first wave of a piece of news, be very much unchecked. It was always so with rumors. And i can't think of a obvious way to fix it. Newspapers then will continue to be the more reliable sources of information.

---

Blog Marketting [feeddistiller.com] Feed @ Feed Distiller [feeddistiller.com]

Re:Bioggers get no editorial feedback? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29712303)

Isn't that what the comments boxes are for.

Fuck you this is my blog and I don't need your fucking wrong opinions. STFU troll or I'll ban you.

(ten minutes later, your comment is deleted as spam)

And that's just the best-case example. If the blogger makes some 100% provably false opinion piece on something with an overly emotional topic, someone posting facts or anything else disproving it would be drowned under tons and tons of comments from now-extremely-irate readers taken in by the story.

That's why... (4, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | about 5 years ago | (#29711501)

That's why I only trust Slashdot to bring me tech journalism of the highest integrity.

functional reputation systems (0)

drDugan (219551) | about 5 years ago | (#29711515)

Information distribution is in a gray area now between the past, when reputation came top-down from the creation of large distribution organizations as surrogates for reputation to the new model, (which still does not work well) where reputation comes bottom-up, from various sources and from group interaction. After this issue gets a lot worse, people will start using peer-weighted reputation as a filter before who they believe, but that shift will take a generation to really take hold widely.

 

Re:functional reputation systems (3, Informative)

Animats (122034) | about 5 years ago | (#29711607)

peer-weighted reputation...

Peer-weighted reputation, like "web of trust" systems, won't work if the "peers" are anonymous. Otherwise, we get link farms and similar forms of bulk spamming.

Even without anonymity, imagine Rush's "dittoheads" as a source of authority for news.

How do we stop this? (1)

bignetbuy (1105123) | about 5 years ago | (#29711557)

News orgs and blogger sites are often rated on how long they take to break a story. Instead of focusing on the content, they are focused on getting the latest infonugget out to as many eyeballs as possible. That just seems wrong. The old adage about "it's easier to print a bogus story now and a correction later than wait for confirmation" applies more and more to the news media.

Yahoo, always a favorite punching bag, got roasted over the Iranian story and it turns out to be FALSE? Outrageous. What can they do? Sue some blog site? Go after people spreading the bogus story? They would end up throwing good money away chasing ghosts.

This isn't the first time either. There are bogus press releases announcing a new product or detrimental story about a company. The company's stock tanks...then someone does some basic research behind the PR to discover that it is 100% bogus.

If we can't trust the newsmedia to deliver facts, who can we trust? Joe Blogger?
 

Re:How do we stop this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29714459)

There's a whole theory of this stuff :
Pamela Shoemaker and Stephen Reese: Mediating the Message: Theories of Influences on Mass Media Content

The theory basically states that media not only reflects but also creates reality.

It's very complex, and that's the twitter ready summary, but it goes on to explain how journalistic culture, media organisation structure, government, social influences all interact to reflect and create reality to different extents (and for different subjects)

A very interesting read, that can be applied to all media types and content.

I recommend this read, as it explains quite a lot about the news we get at a more fundamental level than just the "Fox news is shit" and "liberal hippies" knee jerk commentary we usually get.

And that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29711573)

is why bloggers are not journalists.

Churchill "quote" is a fake - actually Callaghan (2, Informative)

fantomas (94850) | about 5 years ago | (#29711703)

Oh the irony. Slashdot posts a story about bloggers not checking their stories and says:

"This is the reality of the blogosphere, where Churchill's remark: that "a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on" is more true, and more potentially damaging, than at any time in history.'"

It looks like you didn't check your reference, like the bloggers you accuse.
It seems that the original quote was by British Prime Minister Jim Callaghan in the 1970s, not Winston Churchill, and he said "boots" not "pants".
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/3288907.stm [bbc.co.uk]

In the UK "pants" means "underwear" and not "trousers" as in the USA. Was Callaghan taking a quote from Churchill talking about underwear? I don't know. I'd welcome further reference hunting....

Re:Churchill "quote" is a fake - actually Callagha (3, Interesting)

fluxrad (125130) | about 5 years ago | (#29711835)

A quick intertubes search reveals this quote is well over 150 years old [answers.com] and is really more of a proverb than a quote.

But yeah, the OP did abuse is pretty badly.

Mod parent up (1)

geegel (1587009) | about 5 years ago | (#29712079)

And this is why the print will never die. Hooray for editors!

Slashdot is one of the worst culprits (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29711833)

Here is a recent example [slashdot.org] ; the 128-bit Windows troll by Barry Collins at PC Pro.

There has never been a "Robert Morgan" working at Microsoft Research. The Google cache version of the LinkedIn profile cited in the article states that he attended "Glendale University." A modicum of effort researching this will reveal that Glendale University is an unaccredited online degree supplier that sells you a "degree" for "what you already know."

In other words, that 128-bit Windows story was a complete and total troll. Anybody who even attempted to do any fact-checking would have discovered this within 30 seconds. I still don't see an admission of error and an apology from the PC Pro or the Slashdot editors appended to the article.

Re:Slashdot is one of the worst culprits (1)

Fantastic Lad (198284) | about 5 years ago | (#29713441)

I completely disagree.

Slashdot is a news re-server, and its power exists in the Slashcode comment system. It's like a stomach for news, where all the users are bacteria and enzymes breaking down the content tossed down its gullet.

Your current post is an apt example of this principal at work.

Collective editorial oversight in the wild. --It's great, because we are encouraged by the very ecosystem of Slashdot to question and hash out EVERYTHING. More often than not, when perusing the comments one will see the truth (or at least more of it than was previously available with just the official media), will bubble to the surface. And it's not authoritarian "truth"; rather, it's the kind which requires that the reader think and research and discern. Many people will not come away with full information because they choose not to; Lazy people want to be told how reality is. And that's great! It allows freedom. The freedom to be an idiot means that there also exists the freedom to be enlightened. Slashdot at its best encourages people to WORK to find out what reality is, which it does daily.

Some of the most powerful learning I've done has come through people telling me why I'm wrong about something and backing it up with solid details. Also, watching others go through the same process is a great way to learn.

I love this site!

-FL

Why should bloggers get editorial feedback? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29712009)

A blog is an online diary. The author alone is responsible for its content. Blogging per definition doesn't involve any editorial process outside the author-recipients channel. And the feedback bloggers get from their readers in near realtime is potentially more valuable than the feedback they would get from some editor, but of course they are free to block or ignore it.

The mistake lies in confusing blogs with journalism, or with some company's misnomer for articles they publish online.

ZD does journalism? In what universe? (0, Troll)

bob_calder (673103) | about 5 years ago | (#29712267)

What idiot reads ZD FUD and thinks it's real? You may as well believe Fox News.

Funny sig (1)

Archtech (159117) | about 5 years ago | (#29712377)

"Any preoccupation with ideas of what is right or wrong in conduct shows an arrested intellectual development. (Wilde)"

Wasn't it actually Hannibal Lecter who said that?

Truth suffers (1)

rlh100 (695725) | about 5 years ago | (#29712453)

When getting it first is more important than getting it right.

RLH

If you know about the topic... (1)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | about 5 years ago | (#29714465)

It seems that if you are involved in, or know a great deal about, any topic published in the newspaper, it's obvious to you just how badly the newspaper got it wrong.

Now, imagine about things you aren't involved in or know about. Yeah.

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