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The Rise of Hoax News

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the but-I-read-it-on-the-internet dept.

The Internet 181

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Reporter Luke O'Neil writes that 2013 was journalism's year of bungles: the New Jersey waitress who received a homophobic comment on the receipt from a party she had served; Samsung paying Apple $1 billion in nickels; former NSA chief Michael Hayden's assassination; #CutForBieber; Nelson Mandela's death pic; that eagle snatching a child off the ground on YouTube; Jimmy Kimmel's 'twerk fail' video; and Sarah Palin taking a job with Al-Jazeera America (an obviously satirical story that even suckered in The Washington Post). All these stories had one thing in common: They seemed too tidily packaged, too neat, 'too good to check,' as they used to say, to actually be true. 'Any number of reporters or editors at any of the hundreds of sites that posted these Platonic ideals of shareability could've told you that they smelled, but in the ongoing decimation of the publishing industry, fact-checking has been outsourced to the readers,' writes O'Neil. 'This is not a glitch in the system. It is the system. Readers are gullible, the media is feckless, garbage is circulated around, and everyone goes to bed happy and fed.' O'Neil says that the stories he's written this year that took the least amount of time and effort usually did the most traffic while his more in-depth, reported pieces didn't stand a chance against riffs on things predestined to go viral. That's the secret that Upworthy, BuzzFeed, MailOnline, Viral Nova, and their dozens of knockoffs have figured out: You don't need to write anymore—just write a good headline and point. 'As Big Viral gets bigger, traditional media organizations are scrambling to keep pace,' concludes O'Neil. 'We the media have betrayed your trust, and the general public has taken our self-sanctioned lowering of standards as tacit permission to lower their own.'"

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181 comments

A natural reaction to Faux News i think (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45817891)

It's just a natural reaction to Faux News i think

Re:A natural reaction to Faux News i think (3, Insightful)

MachineShedFred (621896) | about 4 months ago | (#45818043)

It's not. It's the evolution of journalism in the information age, unfortunately. Fox News just seems to embrace it more than most.

30 years ago, people bought newspapers to get their news and opinion in a portable convenient format. Now, people get push notifications of things happening half way around the world, minutes after they happen. You can't open a web browser without getting "opinion."

In the old days, reporters would fact check everything because their editors would bury them in some county bureau if they got taken on a story, especially if getting taken meant other newspapers could report on them getting took. Printing a correction would be ducked at any opportunity. Now, they just take the story off the web site and it vanishes from public consciousness, and they just print the newspaper from what remains on the web after a few hours of vetting by the readership for what is real.

If you fact check, you can't beat your competition to the story. And the news business is all about being first and exclusive to report.

Re:A natural reaction to Faux News i think (4, Insightful)

evilRhino (638506) | about 4 months ago | (#45818093)

Fox News was established to give the Conservative (actually pro-corporate) point of view without fact checking. It's not an accident that this shift started 30 years ago, when the media was deregulated by the Reagan administration. It used to be that TV and radio companies (being totally dependent on the government regulation of their bandwidth via the FCC) would be obligated to provide the news as a public service even if it ran at a loss. It was allowed to become corporatized to turn a profit, at the expense of credibility.

Re:A natural reaction to Faux News i think (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45818115)

Fox news is no different than the liberal media.
They just get judged by a difference standard.

If you're paying attention you should be disgusted with all of them.

Re:A natural reaction to Faux News i think (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45818261)

WHAT "liberal media"? They're ALL pro-corporate. You're the one not paying attention.

Re:A natural reaction to Faux News i think (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45818273)

Fox news is no different than the liberal media.
They just get judged by a difference standard.

If you're paying attention you should be disgusted with all of them.

"Liberal Media".

Did you fact-check the existence of this so-called "Liberal Media"?

You mean like CBS News? (5, Informative)

tomhath (637240) | about 4 months ago | (#45818761)

When Dan Rather replaced a story criticizing the war in Iraq with an even better story [wikipedia.org] criticizing George Bush just two months before the 2004 elections he was so excited with the documents that he overlooked what everyone saw as obvious forgeries. He later stated that even though the documents were clearly fake he was sure that the story based on them was true.

Re:A natural reaction to Faux News i think (1)

Mitsoid (837831) | about 4 months ago | (#45818749)

I'm also curous what "Liberal Media" outlets exist. PBS or my super-local news station are the most "liberal" stations I've seen... I think they are closer to Independents (which, actually, I prefer), but it would be nice to get a polar to Faux news on some stories, as opposed to a completely middle of the road story to combat a purely one-party "opinion piece" (since, it really can't be called a journalist news article anymore.. They cite sources of opinion quotes but never of scientific data...)

Re:A natural reaction to Faux News i think (2)

ganjadude (952775) | about 4 months ago | (#45819055)

I take it you have never seen MSNBC then. MSNBC is to further to the left (their motto is lean forward for god sake) than even fox does to the right and thats saying something. Everything I see on MSNBC is race baiting or calling out fox for XYZ, there is no actual news being reported its just all attacks on fox for the most part

Re:A natural reaction to Faux News i think (2, Insightful)

operagost (62405) | about 4 months ago | (#45819087)

This is the problem of the left: they think the truth has a political bias.

Re:A natural reaction to Faux News i think (2, Interesting)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 4 months ago | (#45818163)

In the old days, reporters would fact check everything

Did you "fact check" this assertion? I doubt it. There is no reason whatsoever to believe the news in the "good ole' days" was any more accurate than it is today, and plenty of reason to believe that it was not. What has changed, is that today the errors are more likely to be exposed.

Re:A natural reaction to Faux News i think (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45818239)

See the Ronald Reagan "welfare queen" post above. To them, "fact check" means truthieness that advances a script.

Re:A natural reaction to Faux News i think (3, Informative)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | about 4 months ago | (#45818343)

It was considered scandalous if a newspaper reported something that wasn't factual. Prestige newspapers still won't print anything that wasn't verified, and then work hard to regain their credibility when they find out one of their staff falsified the report. The reputation of the paper is valuable and affect subscriptions. Compare that to blogs that appear and disappear constantly with very little credibility to lose in the first place, or with services like buzzfeed that are geared towards click-bait and not actual news.

You want citations? Look up Jayson Blair [wikipedia.org] , AP fires reporter and editor over McAuliffe [timesdispatch.com] , and many other examples are available from a simple Google search [bit.ly]

Re:A natural reaction to Faux News i think (-1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 4 months ago | (#45818441)

You want citations? Look up Jayson Blair [wikipedia.org]

Seriously? You are using an example from more than a decade ago to prove that inaccurate journalism is a "new" problem?

Re:A natural reaction to Faux News i think (3, Insightful)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | about 4 months ago | (#45818621)

Seriously? Did you just attempt to move the goal posts when my reply was to your assertion that fact checking wasn't being done in the "good ole' days"?

Re:A natural reaction to Faux News i think (4, Insightful)

DutchUncle (826473) | about 4 months ago | (#45818681)

Not fair. You asked for proof that things used to be better, that people used to care more about accuracy, and you were answered. It is *sad* that the examples are from a decade or more ago.

Re:A natural reaction to Faux News i think (1)

neoritter (3021561) | about 4 months ago | (#45818655)

Apparently you missed the chapter in your high school history class on yellow journalism and the rise of it in the late 19th to early 20th century. I'll forgive you for not knowing that Ben Franklin frequently wrote false editorials and gossip pieces to sell his newspapers as well.

Re:A natural reaction to Faux News i think (2)

DutchUncle (826473) | about 4 months ago | (#45818763)

"Yellow journalism" was about politically and socially slanted news with a deliberate intent. OP is talking about people just plain getting things wrong and nobody caring.

The Wall Street Journal is pro-business. Well, yeah, it's *named* for the center of financial business, so it's *honestly* presenting a particular editorial viewpoint. One can accept and work with that. The problem is taking every rumor and first report and rebroadcasting them as "fact". History - like, a few hours later - may well explain why people got things wrong at first impression, and nobody can blame first reporters for having a narrow local perspective on whatever they can see from where they happen to be standing, and those first reports may well be crucial in rousing an alarm; but wrong is wrong, and "alarm reports" are not what news organizations used to mean by "reports from the scene" or "facts on the ground".

This is not at all suggesting we should ignore crowdsourced information. Without dashcams and other random sources, we would have missed video of asteroids and air crashes and all sorts of news. But openness to accepting information from more sources needs *more* editing and selectivity, not less, because of the lowered average quality and reliability.

Re:A natural reaction to Faux News i think (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45818877)

You do realize that journalism matured after spanish-american war and that Pultizer turned around his newspaper to where it was the most respected newspaper at the time of his death in 1911. I'll forgive you for thinking that just because something was prevalent once it still holds true today.

Re:A natural reaction to Faux News i think (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45818883)

I knew some tool out of the gate would blame Fox the minute I read the headline. If I had a nickel for every comment that blamed the world's problems on Fox I could buy the other networks. I know it's frustrating that there is one network that challenges your world view. Just think, without Fox you could sit back and listen to your Liberal talking points and never have to challenge your mind. Classical Liberalism died when its left leaning followers shifted to fascism. If you don't think and act (PC) like us then you are the enemy, despite the fact that Liberals have destroyed education, are in the processes of destroying the (Global) economy, and major American cities (Detroit, Chicago, soon the state of California). How's socialized medicine, Hope and Change, Global Warming (sorry I mean Climate Change) working out for you? Seriously MSNBC??? That is your standard bearer?

Re:A natural reaction to Faux News i think (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45818081)

I tend to think it's just another symptom of the Race To The Bottom.

Cut, cut, cut, then cut some more. And when there's nobody left to do the work you cut yet again.

The Bottom Line looks good – for a while. The CXOs get their bonuses – and leave. Five years from now what'll be left?

Reagan Hoax (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45818217)

The stuff from this year is nothing. The media has been running a hoax that Ronald Reagan called someone a "welfare queen" when he never used the term. [slate.com] Even better, Jet did a two page feature on the woman in question [blogspot.com] two years before Reagan mentioned the welfare fraudster, and they called her a "Welfare Queen!" BTW, the woman was white in the 1930 and 1940 census.

Re:Reagan Hoax (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45818889)

Don't confuse the libtards with facts. THEY ALREADY KNOW BETTER YOU'RE WRONG CUZ OBAMA SAID SO! Now, please pass the kool-aid....

Re:A natural reaction to Faux News i think (3, Insightful)

operagost (62405) | about 4 months ago | (#45819077)

It's just a natural reaction to Faux News i think

And you're part of the problem.

The obsessive focus of the political establishment on bogeymen like Fox News shows how shallow your objectives are. It's a fact of life that cable news is mostly entertainment. Ignoring the sensationalism and bias that occurs at MSNBC and CNN to focus on Fox News is dishonest and unproductive.

and MSNBC, USA Today, Huffington Post, CNN, NPR (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45819079)

Sad but true. Even the New York Times is getting caught running bogus stories or giving favorable treatment to their side of the political spectrum on a pretty regular basis these days.

"The Newsroom" summarizes the problem ... (4, Interesting)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about 4 months ago | (#45817933)

... and the solution:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73_ds1xQmD4 [youtube.com]

When are people going to start demanding Authority AND Accountability instead of sound-bite entertainment?

--
Success is not only the destination (end-goal) but also involves the journey (of hard word along the way.)

Re:"The Newsroom" summarizes the problem ... (4, Insightful)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 4 months ago | (#45818009)

Demanding authority and accountability means we need some standard, reliable source of truth to measure them against. Where do we get it from?

Re:"The Newsroom" summarizes the problem ... (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 4 months ago | (#45818977)

Demanding authority and accountability means we need some standard, reliable source of truth to measure them against. Where do we get it from?

That doesn't sound correct to me. I think most persons realize they have to accept a lower standard, for the reason you give.

I think that the standard normally demanded is that a good-seeming knowledge vetting approach is consistently applied. With "good-seeming" being a combination of intuitively reliable and not producing many later-shown-false reports.

Re:"The Newsroom" summarizes the problem ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45818017)

The answer is "never". The modern economy is built on a "race to the bottom" mentality. What you are seeing in news is this mentality. Combine this with the "information wants to be free" mentality and there is no incentive for any group to invest in fact-checking as any story can simply be copied and there is no profit for the group who did the fact checking.

Re:"The Newsroom" summarizes the problem ... (1)

jbmartin6 (1232050) | about 4 months ago | (#45818075)

When are people going to start demanding Authority AND Accountability instead of sound-bite entertainment?

They are never going to. And this is why democracy doesn't work.

Re:"The Newsroom" summarizes the problem ... (2)

Cid Highwind (9258) | about 4 months ago | (#45818085)

What punishment can we impose if they don't live up to that demand?

(Hint: nothing.)

Re:"The Newsroom" summarizes the problem ... (5, Insightful)

Kimomaru (2579489) | about 4 months ago | (#45818109)

Too true. People tune in to news not really for the purpose of getting information but to hear someone confirm that their world view is right. That's a cultural problem. I hate to say it, but the news itself isn't the problem.

Re:"The Newsroom" summarizes the problem ... (1)

Connie_Lingus (317691) | about 4 months ago | (#45818179)

its called "confirmation bias" and we are all guilty of it.

Re:"The Newsroom" summarizes the problem ... (5, Insightful)

Kimomaru (2579489) | about 4 months ago | (#45818209)

This is a different form of it. If you're tuning in to get information on what's going on in the world, that's a moment where the facts theselves shouldn't be related to a personal view. Like looking at a map. You're not looking at the map so that you can feel good about your views on religion, right? That's what the news is supposed to be, and it's not anymore.

Re:"The Newsroom" summarizes the problem ... (3, Insightful)

Connie_Lingus (317691) | about 4 months ago | (#45819017)

the "news" has *always* had a underlying political propaganda element to it...why do you think it was such huge business back in the day, with Hurst and other moguls battling for ownership and control?

it was NEVER what you claim it was.

it's just naive to think otherwise...it's human nature to attempt to manipulate the attitudes and actions of others...it was discovered a long time ago that mass media (first newspapers and then radio/tv) could *easily* basically control entire nations, be it war-drumming or affecting large social changes.

Re:"The Newsroom" summarizes the problem ... (3, Funny)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 4 months ago | (#45818991)

its called "confirmation bias" and we are all guilty of it.

I assume that's been reinforced by the cherry-picked psychological studies you've chosen to read.

Open your eyes to the psycho-industrial complex, man!

Re:"The Newsroom" summarizes the problem ... (5, Insightful)

squiggleslash (241428) | about 4 months ago | (#45818271)

"Accountability"? For what?

Here's the problem: There already is accountability. The problem is that it's not for what you feel it should be. The accountability is for producing entertainment. If the news is entertaining, the publisher will be rewarded. If the news isn't, the publisher will be weakened.

In terms of accountability to inform, that was tossed out the window years ago - if, indeed, it ever existed. These days most people don't, actually, want to be informed. They want something that doesn't challenge them too much, and that makes them feel informed afterwards, while keeping them entertained. The occasional outright lie in such an environment is not merely tolerable, it's desirable.

Entire news networks exist purely to tell people what they want to hear. Do you think that's an accident?

The world shouldn't work like this, but it does anyway.

Re:"The Newsroom" summarizes the problem ... (1, Interesting)

JWW (79176) | about 4 months ago | (#45818647)

The world shouldn't work like this, but it does anyway.

Then how should the world work?

I will take this decentralized, messy, sometimes inaccurate, active, energized, aggressive reporting of everything under the sun with the caveat of "reader beware" a thousand times over something that is managed by (to borrow from a meme I hate) "Top Men".

Those granted the authority to fix the stated problem in this case will always ALWAYS become corrupted and begin to limit views that do not agree with their "norms". Out of that will eventually be borne far more evil than exists in the chaotic system we have today.

Freedom is messy and I'm getting sick of Tyranny trying to market itself to us as a shiny, clean alternative.

Re:"The Newsroom" summarizes the problem ... (3, Insightful)

squiggleslash (241428) | about 4 months ago | (#45818853)

Then how should the world work?

I don't know, but at no point did I ever suggest anything remotely similar to thinking "something that is managed by (to borrow from a meme I hate) "Top Men"" would be a relevent replacement. At no point did I address or even go near the issue of who should impose accountability - my comment, when read by English speakers, was very clearly and unambigiously talking about the values news organizations should be accountable for.

So knock it off with putting words into my mouth, still worse claiming I'm in favor of "Tyranny" because I think it's not a great thing that news organizations are rewarded for lying.

Re:"The Newsroom" summarizes the problem ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45819025)

I will take this decentralized, messy, sometimes inaccurate, active, energized, aggressive reporting of everything under the sun with the caveat of "reader beware" a thousand times over something that is managed by (to borrow from a meme I hate) "Top Men".

Decentralized? Reporting of everything under the sun? Where do you live?

In the USA, the news media aint decentralized. Not by a long shot. As far as the breadth of news reported goes, it is rare as hell that any of the major outlets will report anything that might upset the status quo - or even their advertisers for that matter.

Re:"The Newsroom" summarizes the problem ... (1)

rei_slashdot (558039) | about 4 months ago | (#45818317)

It's not just hoax news--it's laziness and lack of resources (or just plain laziness) at the local news level where they repeat canned PR news-lite. Team Coco at Conan O'Brien Show noticed it with this pre-Christmas headline repeated everywhere: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TM8L7bdwVaA [youtube.com]

Re:"The Newsroom" summarizes the problem ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45818339)

When are people going to start demanding Authority AND Accountability instead of sound-bite entertainment?

Why would they care? Most people only want a moment's outrage or squee from events that otherwise have no impact on their lives. Authoritative stories from journalists accountable for their mistakes might force them to think that something is actually wrong, and that they actually ought to get up and do something. Fluff pieces, especially if they might be wrong or intentionally misleading, offer all the benefits of strong emotion with none of the costs of action.

Re:"The Newsroom" summarizes the problem ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45818725)

When are people going to start demanding Authority AND Accountability instead of sound-bite entertainment?

When their money is on the line.

For example, serious long-term investors need real numbers which describe who well a company or sector is doing, and real news about the national and local factors that can affect those numbers in the months to come. Thus there are entire industries devoted to supplying those numbers to reputable financial publications, and regulatory bodies which (ostensibly, but that's another topic) are devoted to punishing companies that distort those numbers.

But for most news stories, nothing is on the line for the reader. A local sports story here, a train derailment there, an alleged scandal involving a minor politician, hype about a new toy that every kid will want next holiday season... unless you're directly involved, it's all filler. Entertainment. I suspect that even global news is little more than a curiosity for most Americans, unless it's brought into play by political pundits looking to score points against the opposition.

A recent hoax (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45817941)

Did you see the one in the paper the other day about the supposed "Piltdown Man"? I knew it was a hoax right away, but those papers kept hyping it. All this damn modern techno-web stuff is bringing down the integrity of journalism.

-- MyLongNickname

The cost of publishing is zero... (4, Insightful)

Coditor (2849497) | about 4 months ago | (#45817951)

and the cost of publishing fake news is also zero. In the early days of the web people thought that it would allow the truth to be easily discovered and that lies couldn't live long. The problem today is that there is no much information available that determining truth is extremely difficult - the noise is so high that a real signal is often lost. I wonder if in the future the amount of information is large enough that a truth analyzer could be built to assist in calculating a truth likeliness value for any given article.

Re:The cost of publishing is zero... (2)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | about 4 months ago | (#45818417)

>> a truth analyzer could be built

In early April, Slashdot intends to reveal a browser plug-in to do just this.

Re:The cost of publishing is zero... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45818657)

The cost of publishing fake news is lost credibility

Re:The cost of publishing is zero... (1)

DrLang21 (900992) | about 4 months ago | (#45818801)

Is it really? As far as I can tell, no one cares. That or all of the news outlets have already lost all of their credibility.

Hm, sounds familiar... (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45817953)

"That's the secret that Upworthy, BuzzFeed, MailOnline, Viral Nova, and their dozens of knockoffs have figured out: You don't need to write anymore—just write a good headline and point."

So, like Slashdot then?

Re:Hm, sounds familiar... (4, Funny)

OakDragon (885217) | about 4 months ago | (#45818099)

So, like Slashdot then?

Look for future headlines like this:

Iowa State AIDS Researcher Admits To Falsifying Findings - What He Did Next Will Blow Your Mind

Re:Hm, sounds familiar... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45818159)

Mods please upvote this post. His headline hits the nail on the head.

Re:Hm, sounds familiar... (5, Informative)

isorox (205688) | about 4 months ago | (#45818141)

"That's the secret that Upworthy, BuzzFeed, MailOnline, Viral Nova, and their dozens of knockoffs have figured out: You don't need to write anymore—just write a good headline and point."

So, like Slashdot then?

People don't come to slashdot for news that much, we come for the insightful (and inciteful) comments.

News and entertainment (4, Interesting)

Akratist (1080775) | about 4 months ago | (#45817959)

Honestly, this seems like a natural consequence of the attempt of the news to be more "relevant and entertaining" and the need to compete with other varieties of the media, as well as the dislike of people to follow real, objective news (as opposed to news which satisfies their own cognitive biases). I've heard quite a few people express that the best places to get real news (outside of maybe the weather, and even that is getting goofy, with the Weather Channel naming snowstorms) is the foreign press, where they seem to be able to have more of a dividing line between what is actual news, and what is tabloid journalism.

Re:News and entertainment (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | about 4 months ago | (#45818089)

the best places to get real news ... is the foreign press

A foreign news service is without doubt the best source of relevant, hard, news (some might even say impartial news) about any given country. Provided you choose a source that has no agenda, enmity or axe to grind they will only report stuff that is important - rather than however much padding is needed to fill the next 15 minutes of rolling news - before the whole vapid cycle starts again.

Re:News and entertainment (3, Insightful)

mlts (1038732) | about 4 months ago | (#45818723)

Choosing foreign news sources is pretty much the only way to get decent, objective content about what is going on. European sources are a good bet, and even Al Jazeera has become a solid source of info. They are not completely unbiased, but the information is useful compared to the news channels in the US that (IMHO, of course), approach sensationalist fiction.

Here in the US, it isn't about putting info on subscribers' screens. It is about putting stories up that get eyeballs and get people polarized. When in doubt, kick the old gun control thing around, or reinvent Terri Schiavo.

As for Slashdot, nothing is perfect, but at least overt BS does get challenged in short order, which is one of the few places where that occurs.

time for some new memes (1)

jbmartin6 (1232050) | about 4 months ago | (#45817961)

The old way was that formal news could be trusted to a certain extent. Now we see that this isn't true. It is too late for the old people who can't learn new tricks, just like the passing generation that can't program their VCRs. (Yes, I date myself with that comparison.) The kids will grow up knowing to check things themselves. As a side note, I noticed just yesterday that Facebook sometimes has the Snopes article listed as a 'suggested link' just below someone's repost of a hoax link!

You Get The News That You Pay For (5, Insightful)

rsmith-mac (639075) | about 4 months ago | (#45817981)

Correction for TFS: Readers are cheap, the media is understaffed.

All of this just goes to show that you get the news that you pay for. If you're not paying for your news, not only are you not the real customer, but you're not offering any kind of signal to the writer and publisher that rewards them for quality.

Instead you're probably drawing your news from the 24 hour news cycle, which is the epitome of low quality TFA discusses. The 24 hour cycle offers no time for quality, and being entirely advertising based means that it trends towards sensationalism in order to keep viewers watching (and the ad dollars flowing in). Blogs for that matter aren't any better for largely the same reason, as they have the same instant-publishing goals and are equally prone to sensationalism.

Real news takes time and money. Time to do research, and money to pay for staff and travel to go do that research. If the public won't pay for that, then the public won't get real news. It's as simple as that.

Which is why it's all the more important to support newspapers, which are by and large the last bastion of quality reporting and research. They aren't perfect, but they're all that's left. If you care about the news then the single best thing you can do to help quality journalism thrive is to go buy your local paper (yes, buy; not read for free on their website). Only by giving the journalists in your community a paycheck, some time, and a bit of trust, will you get quality journalism. Otherwise if you aren't paying for your news, you're getting the news that you pay for.

Re:You Get The News That You Pay For (2)

jbmartin6 (1232050) | about 4 months ago | (#45818057)

I've watched the transition to online news over my lifetime, and I don't think your proposal would only work if the news provider was entirely funded by subscribers. i.e. no advertising or other revenue enhancements. With ad-funded news, you aren't the real customer either, you (specifically your attention) are the product. The current changes are just extensions of that trend towards complete crap that I've watched my whole life. Same applies to ad-funded entertainment.

Re: You Get The News That You Pay For (1)

Djyrn (3011821) | about 4 months ago | (#45818067)

My local newspaper has little more than sports, police blotter items, and AP reprints. It may have been the last bastion, but that bastion has crumbled.

Re: You Get The News That You Pay For (1)

rsmith-mac (639075) | about 4 months ago | (#45818165)

All the more reason to pay for it. Your local paper isn't going to improve in quality by having its budget cut further.

Though considering papers try to be all-encompassing, I never understood the AP complaint. It doesn't make any sense to rewrite a national story for a local paper, and would you rather the paper not include national news? These are still papers of record for their local communities, after all, so there's still a historical interest in making sure both local and national news is covered.

Re:You Get The News That You Pay For (1)

isorox (205688) | about 4 months ago | (#45818169)

If you care about the news then the single best thing you can do to help quality journalism thrive is to go buy your local paper (yes, buy; not read for free on their website). Only by giving the journalists in your community a paycheck, some time, and a bit of trust, will you get quality journalism. Otherwise if you aren't paying for your news, you're getting the news that you pay for.

I'm far too lazy for that, I have a subscription. It arrives every morning about 6AM, and I can glance at it over breakfast and read the occasional story. I feel bad that it's so cheap though.

Re:You Get The News That You Pay For (1)

Bigbutt (65939) | about 4 months ago | (#45818487)

The problem though is the big paper pretty much just prints stories from the AP and opinion columns from other newspapers. I stopped getting the physical paper a couple of years ago. The front page had a local story or two and there was a half to one column of news from the AP on most of the pages. The rest was advertising with several pages of advertising in the center of the 'A' section. I could have created a 4 page 'newspaper' from just the AP articles in the 'A' section. I found more interesting stories from the local 'City Paper' and the county paper, both of which I still receive.

[John]

Almost (1)

s.petry (762400) | about 4 months ago | (#45818827)

Except that the "Local" paper will never have the budget to tackle big stories. Reporters may be real journalists with the best intentions, they may be able to hit local issues which impact your life, but they can't get to DC to investigate the NSA which has more impact on your life than city council allowing a Hooters to be built.

Large cities used to be able to do this to some degree. New York and Washington DC papers were right there, so there was no need to pump money into travel. For other "Newspapers" the "Big" issues required National support.

Rehashing the obvious here, but to make sure there is no confusion the rehash is not bad in my opinion. What we have seen in the last 10 years is the complete take over of all national media. NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, CNN, and all of their variants all work for the same people, and it's not the average citizen. They all produce the same AP stories and FUD. Enough people distrust them that ratings have plummeted and Blog sites have made huge leaps in readership. Sites like Infowars, Mother Jones, Drudge Report, and Natural News have exploded. Sure, some of their articles are biased just as bad as "Main Stream Media" in the opposite direction, but it gives an alternative that "may" be closer to what people see as true. For example, we see the down side of the 2nd amendment on MSM and the upside on alternative sites. Alex Jones appearing on Piers Morgan's show as a blockbuster event for both outlets (more akin to Jerry Springer than "News")

Whistle Blowers from numerous large News Papers have told us that they have been taken over as well, in terms of what they can and can't report about. The same monopolization of media with Broadcast News happened with all the large papers.

In reality, we need to figure out how to get back major stations and break the monopolies. Supporting local is a start of that, as long as you can keep them from being taken over when they get too large. Petitioning for legal action to break the monopolies is another step.

hitler acted alone? no banks? pr firms? WMD cabals (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45817983)

storm typers? paid poster pickens might know? just don't call it cleansing

just fast food mentality,no pride in original work (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45817991)

Conan O'Brien had a story that reported a large number of local news stations using the same canned script for reporting.

" It's OK, you can admit it, if you bought an item, or two, or ten for yourself. "
This is not any attempt at being original, or trying to do something distinct for yourself or your station.

I would say it is ok to send a film crew to your local mall, and actually interview people about their holiday plans. This is original reporting. It may be boring, but at least it involves some work.

The existing media outlets just want to take something conviently packaged and report it as news, this lends itself to just reporting something without giving any actual thought.

Re:just fast food mentality,no pride in original w (1)

Clent (717085) | about 4 months ago | (#45818389)

As the article states, this sort of ridicule or fear of it used to come primarily from competitors. Some volume of ridicule has likely always came from satire entertainment. As has been eluded to elsewhere in the comments, the news is now basically a memory hole, it's goal is not to spread knowledge and awareness of reality, it's main goal is short term revenue. As a memory hole it no longer has a use for introspection. That leaves satire and other forms of comedy to become the primary source of ridicule. There may be something bigger to this; as news pushes into entertainment it seems appropriate that long-standing lines of entertainment would push back hard.

News is mostly entertainment, anyway (5, Interesting)

petes_PoV (912422) | about 4 months ago | (#45818003)

Most news stories get selected for their "viewer friendliness". Ones with graphic visuals are chosen over those that are abstract and intangible. The more gore (with a lower case G) the better and if you can get children and animals into the story, the better.

So really there is no such thing as hoax news - just stories that aren't true. However, since hardly any of the reported news has any effect on the people watching it - and even less of it is something they could do anything about: whether they know about it, or not - it's mostly irrelevant what gets reported.

That appears to be the opinions of the news broadcasters. The object is not so much to inform, but to get the proportion of the population that still believes in "news" (which is diminishing every day as stories become more trivial and inconsequential) to watch the advertisements before, during and after the show. And it is a show.

News (5, Interesting)

ledow (319597) | about 4 months ago | (#45818007)

Nope. There's always been bollocks on the news. That's kind of why a lot of people totally ignore it.

Fact is, if I don't give a shit if celebrity X slept with celebrity Y, or happens to be gay, then it doesn't matter if the story is true or not... I won't read the story. The people who do hardly care if it's true or not.

But this isn't "new". Most of the stuff you learned at school is absolute tripe. History is extremely revisionist. And most of the stuff that's on the news is so much bollocks that it doesn't matter. Those with a brain will be ignoring it *because* it's on the news, those without one will seek it out to consume it even if it's not on the news. Confirmation bias and all that.

Hence why we have one celebrity taking websites and papers to court at the moment because he happens to share a real name with a convicted paedophile. I have had friends say it was him, though. They don't care enough to research even when the websites/papers involved are foreign and the news story in my country is about how he's taking them to court for mis-attributing the crime to himself.

If you're stupid enough to live your life by news, then you're going to fall into this. You've expected them (but don't really care about it) to research their facts. You blindly believe them. It doesn't matter if you read the Sunday Sport (where the items revolve around aliens in the Royal Family and Elvis regenerating) or the The Sunday Times (where the items revolve around what business is expect to make $10bn when it floats next week on the basis of zero profit so far). All that changes is the area, the scale, and the reputation.

In the UK, we have had one paper shut down for hacking into celebrities voicemail. People protested and sales dropped. The next week, that paper shut down and the owners opened a new one with the same staff but a different name. Almost immediately everyone bought into it and it replaced the other paper. Nobody CARES enough to actually bother about them being criminal liars.

People do not watch the news to see the truth. They watch the news to have something to gossip about with other people who also watched the news. For centuries, it's been like that, and yet people still think you can judge a person by what *KIND* of newspaper they read.

Sorry to tell you, but the news is EVEN MORE unreliable that my friend's Facebook posts... and today they include someone who's trying to tell me that because the New Year starts with a New Moon this is a) unusual (last happened 19 years ago! Odd, on a 28-day cycle, that it even happens that often, to be honest...), b) important or c) going to make any difference at all. Another has reposted a fake "lucky money" satirical rip-off of those posts that say if you repost it you will find money (and hasn't even noticed that "fungus shoe" isn't actually feng shui).

Yet others are trying to tell me that having 5 Fridays/Saturdays/Sundays in a month is something that only happens every 823 years (er, actually, no - it happens nearly every year).

And I honestly consider these people more reliable than the news. Hell, I consider the "QI" game show more reliable than many popular science outlets, even when it has admitted to having flaws in its answers (and actually contradicts its own answers).

News has always been bollocks. The fact that professional outlets are falling for OTHER'S crap stories is the news here, rather than the crap they make up themselves.

Re:News (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45818171)

A splendid rant, but I like a few older [brainyquote.com] quotes [brainyquote.com] on the subject.

And a third, [brainyquote.com] though not directly related to the industry of false tales.

Sorry that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45818555)

...you have morons for Facebook friends.

BBC has just announced... (4, Funny)

ls671 (1122017) | about 4 months ago | (#45818011)

BBC has just announced that an alien ship has just landed on Sochi winter olympics site.

http://www.bbc.com/ [bbc.com]

Re:BBC has just announced... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45818253)

So, did you guys hear about that schizophrenic guy that gatecrashed Mandela's funeral and then trolled everyone by pretending to be a sign language interpreter, even though he was just flailing his arms around?

Oh, wait, that wasn't a hoax.

Hmm. Carry on.

Not just journalism (1)

messymerry (2172422) | about 4 months ago | (#45818047)

This is evident in more than journalism. It is evident everywhere. Quite simply, we cannot rule ourselves which in this case means throttling back to a point where we can cope with the deluge of stimulus that technology has pressed upon us. As far as I can tell, the quality of goods and services across the board has gone down. Of course I'm looking at it from the bottom of the dung pile, so I expect for the time being, the elites are still getting some pretty good stuff. The WalMart crowd is getting stuff that used to go only to third world countries. Remember this: The only advantage the elites have is that they will be the last to starve.

Re:Not just journalism (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about 4 months ago | (#45818395)

As far as I can tell, the quality of goods and services across the board has gone down.

Not across the board, no.

It's hard to find even a cheap stereo that's as crappy-sounding as mid-line stuff from pre-IC times. Electronics quality is at an all-time high, with only minor exceptions like cheap capacitors. Don't even bother thinking about anything computer-related compared to pre-PC days in terms of price/performance/quality.

A lot of stuff that's put together by automated processes is sturdier, less expensive (and often lighter) than older junk.

And automobiles are pretty durable. No more points-and-plugs every couple thousand miles, First "tune up" is at 100K miles. If what I've heard is correct, even tires are longer-lasting.

But these are all technology-related blips. Some of which are dependent on Moore's Law continuing to scale.

Applying factory methods to farming means that a single sloppy producer can poison half a continent at a time. "Self-service" is rampant. And while sometimes serve-yourself is more convenient, it's also a way of making you an unpaid part-time employee of whoever's selling to you instead being one of the elites who gets waited on.

While paid flunkies are often inconvenient, when not actually downright annoying, they are expected to be at least a little more competent at whatever they do than someone who only does it briefly and occasionally to save a buck.

Which brings us back around to the problem with "self-serve" news reporting.

Perhaps we don't want objective news. (3, Insightful)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 4 months ago | (#45818055)

Perhaps our tidy little lives are less likely to experience upset if we only read or listen to what we already agree with.

No surprise at all (2, Insightful)

Jawnn (445279) | about 4 months ago | (#45818125)

When programming that celebrates anti-intellectualism is the hottest thing on teevee (I'm looking at you, Duck Dynasty fans), it should come as no surprise at all that quality journalism is not something that sponsors are interested in buying. Bread and circuses...

Re:No surprise at all (1)

OzPeter (195038) | about 4 months ago | (#45818425)

When programming that celebrates anti-intellectualism is the hottest thing on teevee

For a moment there I thought you were going to call out a specific news channel. But then I saw the rest of the comment and realized you weren't going to be fair and balanced.

Re:No surprise at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45818627)

You need to learn the difference between anti-intellectualism and climbing off the high horse. Once you fall off, and end up back down here with the rest of us, you might understand.

Your 'I'm smarter than you!' attitude is EXACTLY WHY people watch Duck Dynasty. They're tired of arrogant assholes like yourself.

BitZtream

Re:No surprise at all (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | about 4 months ago | (#45818823)

Yes, because assuming that *your* take on culture is intellectually superior to someone else's is *so* soundly based on fact and logic. Pompous ass.

It doesn't matter anyway. (4, Insightful)

some old guy (674482) | about 4 months ago | (#45818135)

Even if there was such a thing as good, accurate, impartial journalism it would be utterly wasted on 99% of the population.

Even when a big scandal like Snowden/NSA, the IRS hit list, or Fast and Furious do get newsplay, the average person is merely annoyed at having their up to the minute live coverage of NASCAR or the Kardashians interrupted.

People are idiots.

slashdot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45818173)

slashdot is also a good example of where are things heading

I get it (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 4 months ago | (#45818187)

People have so much fun with all the purposeful news pranks on April Fools Day that the major news outlets decided to do it year round. See, the explanation was simple after all.

Codswallop. (4, Insightful)

Roger Wilcox (776904) | about 4 months ago | (#45818213)

This phenomenon is not new. The signal to noise ratio has been poor for millennia. I recall an adage: "Believe nothing that you hear and only half of what you see." The Internet has merely made this truth more apparent.

If you think about it, the Internet might actually give us an advantage over our ancestors in this regard--fact-checking and cross-referencing are easier now than ever before.

Of course, none of that excuses charlatan media corporations that publish bullshit stories in order to generate hits.

On the other hand, they are only tarnishing their own credibility, and if they continue to do so they will eventually be viewed as sleazy tabloids. And if that's the image they want to project, there isn't much we can do about it. Some people like that stuff.

Re:Codswallop. (1)

Roger Wilcox (776904) | about 4 months ago | (#45818225)

Some people like that stuff.

Other people read slashdot.

Re:Codswallop. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45818797)

Other people read slashdot.

Seriously?

Between the astroturfing and self-submitted "articles", Slashdot isn't the high-minded bastion of truth you portray...

Re:Codswallop. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45818383)

fact-checking and cross-referencing are easier now than ever before

Fairly true, but that only really works if the sites you go to to fact check aren't all using the same false source.

Re:Codswallop. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45818887)

Saw this happen with the reports Google was invited to join with Rockstar in purchasing Nortel patents.

Found many "articles" almost sentence for sentence copies of a logically put blog post, or using the same slightly out of context quotes. Pity the facts it relied on were incorrect. Another /. poster pointed me to a Google blog about "CPTN" and Rockstar bidding for Novell and Nortel patents respectively. Google was invited to CPTN, NOT to Rockstar. It doesn't help that the fanbois repeated it verbatim, since if everyone's saying it, it must be true.

What about the biggest hoax of all? The Holohoax.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45818381)

www.codoh.com

And
'The Last Days of the Big Lie'
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80GgRWuXcO8

http://exposing-the-holocaust-hoax-archive.blogspot.co.uk/2010/03/abraham-landaus-tale-survived-14-death.html

Abraham Landau's tale - "Survived 14 death camps, all other 95 members of his family holocausted"
Abraham Landau was a tireless old fanatic who worked extensively to promote the Holocaust.

He was born in Wilchen, Poland in 1922.

Abraham says he spent 5½ years in 14 different Nazi "death camps", including Auschwitz and Buchenwald. He was liberated from Bergen-Belsen in 1945.

He claims he was the "only survivor of his 95–member family."

Landau was the driving force behind the construction of a Holocuast Memorial monument in the city of New Bedford, Massachusetts.

Abe was also among the Holocaust survivors who gave testimony to director Steven Spielberg for his Shoah Foundation documentary on the Holocaust.

He was a member of the B'nai B’rith National Speakers Bureau and spread the propaganda of the Holocaust to schools and students throughout the New England region.

Over his life, Landau made "innumerable" visits to schools, where he shared his Holocaust tale with young children so that another Holocaust "will never happen again."

Yeesh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45818399)

First my news became entertainment, then opinion masquerading as fact, then didn't even care to hide that it was just opinion, and now it doesn't even care at all.

Why should I even bother with news outfits if I have to do as much work with them as I do with random opinionated news reports online?

It's such a shame that journalism has been buried under this mountain of shit. I doubt it will ever recover its prestige.

And we laugh at our forebears for believing myths (3, Insightful)

wcrowe (94389) | about 4 months ago | (#45818551)

For years, traditional news outlets have headed in the direction of airing or printing stories designed solely to elicit a reaction from the audience. The pattern has become, 1) Say something provacative. 2) Invite a reaction (tell us what YOU think). It's all designed to sell more ads. What is happening now is the logical, inevitable conclusion of this pattern. The old saying still appies, however. If something is too good to be true, it probably isn't. And I would extend that to say that if something is too bad to be true, it probably isn't. It will get worse before it gets better. After years of being essentially lied to from every direction we will, out of desperation, start to believe only what we want to believe, and assume that everything else is a lie.

Slashdot's got some guts posting this (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 4 months ago | (#45818665)

I find it kind of hillarious that an article talking about the rise and proliferation of bogus / clickbait headlines is being posted on slashdot of all things. I had sort of assumed that slashdot was where rising clickbait article writers came to cut their chops before venturing off into the blogosphere.

Standards. Lol (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45818711)

"our self-sanctioned lowering of standards as tacit permission to lower their own"

Yep. We have come quite the ways. A lot of people used to laugh pretty hard at those conspiracy theorists talking about the hidden hand and pulling strings but here it is, summed up as a fairly loud example about how gullible and stupid we really are.

decline of traditional journalism (1)

peter303 (12292) | about 4 months ago | (#45818803)

The decline of traditional journalism using multiple sources and editors is the other side of this coin. Watch the movie All the Presidents Men for how they did it in the classic days of journalism. They could not print a story without a second source, even if it was a secret source like Deep Throat. These days, half of tweeted article turn out wrong, een if they are distributed much faster. Basically I wat to see it in the NY Times or Washington Post before I believe something.

Try Troll News (0)

MrLogic17 (233498) | about 4 months ago | (#45818903)

Hoax News isn't all that bad to me. What really grinds my gears are the Troll News sites. Start with The Onion, then make nothing but "news" posts designed to incite the demographic & political leaning of your choice. Most of them try very hard to hide that they are parody sites.

It's just evil. They are getting clicks & advertising hits by trolling people, most of whom never catch on. I don't get why making a mockery of Grandma & getting her worked up over fake posts about the pope would be a good idea...

Another reason (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 4 months ago | (#45819067)

> They seemed too tidily packaged, too neat, 'too good to check,' as they used to say, to actually be true.

I think in some cases, that the editors really wanted the stories to be true plays a part. It's not difficult to create fake news that the major news outlets will carry -- just tell them what they want to hear.

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