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Media The Internet News

Is This the Future of News? 147

Posted by Soulskill
from the power-to-the-people dept.
WirePosted points us to a story discussing the future of news reporting. For over a year, CNN has been accepting user-generated news stories and posting the best of them for all to see. Earlier this week, CNN handed over the reins of iReport.com, allowing unfiltered and unedited content from anyone who cares to participate, provided it adheres to "established community guidelines". Analysts point to the amateur footage from the Virginia Tech shootings and the Minnesota bridge collapse as an example of the capabilities of distributed reporting. Will this form of user-driven reporting (with which we are well acquainted) come to challenge or supplant traditional new broadcasting?
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Is This the Future of News?

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  • nt (Score:1, Funny)

    by Dr. Cody (554864)
    Dugg this.
  • Not just No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DynaSoar (714234) on Sunday February 17, 2008 @10:29AM (#22453422) Journal
    ... but HELL no.

    "Will this form of user-driven reporting (with which we are well acquainted) come to challenge or supplant traditional new broadcasting?"

    This can be done for free. That doesn't sell advertising. CNN et al. would never let that happen. Instead they're encapsulating the user generated stuff within their own domain where they can use it to support their ad money generating bread and butter. Not embedding this stuff within their own output would be more of a threat.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Bootle (816136)
      And they save a butt-ton of money by not having to pay reporter's salaries to the chumps who submit stuff!
    • Re:Not just No (Score:5, Insightful)

      by someme2 (670523) on Sunday February 17, 2008 @11:24AM (#22453756)

      Instead they're encapsulating the user generated stuff within their own domain where they can use it to support their ad money generating bread and butter. Not embedding this stuff within their own output would be more of a threat.
      And they will still use all the best content in their mainstream news. You grant them cost free rights to all of the content you submit. It's in the terms of use. Consequently all of the really valuable footage can still be broadcast on CNN, in addition the stuff that has been found to work on ireport.com by popular vote.

      It's perfect. They create a pre-screening room that tests all kinds of content and also makes some money, generates a few content gems (bridge collapse footage, etc.) every once in a while and that doesn't affect the serious/professional-flavour of their premium brand. Still they exploit the top content in all of their programs.

      Now to really change the news business: Can't someone create a popular site that does auctions of valuable cell phone footage, with news companies as bidders? Stop giving away your content for free, people!
      • Scoopt.com (Score:3, Interesting)

        by MacDork (560499)

        Can't someone create a popular site that does auctions of valuable cell phone footage, with news companies as bidders? Stop giving away your content for free, people!
        Someone has. [scoopt.com] Too bad CNN will still get most of the footage for free anyway.
        • by antic (29198)
          Scoopt has been bought by Getty Images.

          Anyone noticed News Ltd companies freely using photos of D-List celebrities socialising, snatched from their MySpace property?
    • Re:Not just No (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sgt_doom (655561) on Sunday February 17, 2008 @12:16PM (#22454164)
      Naaaah....I really think this is the future of news:

      The number of corporations dominating the US mainstream media:

      1983 = 50

      1993 = 14

      2008 = 5

      • I'm no mathematician (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Mateo_LeFou (859634)
        But that definitely seems to be headed toward zero. Which is kinda the point of this whole thread?
      • When I read that comment I was thinking: I wish there was a way to save my favorite slashdot comments. Maybe a firefox extension that would allow you to mark a comment you like and then you could go back and see all the comments you had marked. Or does that already exist?
      • In the old days, people would read,watch or listen to the news as a civic duty to keep informed. Now news is just "infotainment" and is an eyeball magnet to attract eyes and advertisement revenue.

        News competes with reality TV and sitcoms. Thus the dry facts are ditched in favor of "edgy" "newsworthy" stories with more interest value.

    • editorial function (Score:5, Insightful)

      by globaljustin (574257) <justinglobal@gm a i l . com> on Sunday February 17, 2008 @01:58PM (#22455020) Homepage Journal

      ... but HELL no

      I agree, but for some slightly different reasons that I'll get to below.

      This can be done for free. That doesn't sell advertising

      I agree that the CNN's, MSNBC's, NYT's, et. al are guided in part by the profit motive, but news in and of itself goes far beyond just putting asses in the seats.

      The free press, aka the newsmedia, is a *cornerstone* of our country. It is the 4th estate. The newsmedia, at its best, is a check on government power, and the founders of our country understood this, and promoted it.

      Now, newsmedia isn't just reporting of facts, it involves editorial decisions. What stories to cover, how to cover them, how long the article should be, who is sent to cover the story, what the headline reads, and where the story is put are all the kind of core decisions that filter the news from a flood of uncategorized facts to a understandable informative piece of journalism. No one has enough time to filter all the day's information for themselves, that's why we have editors.

      I am a harsh critic of today's mainstream media, as I imagine you might be. But let's not forget that we need the news done right in order for our country to operate properly. I hate tabloid journalism like Fox News more than most people because I work in the media, and I know how harmful it is for that network to call itself 'news'...it's entertainment, a plastic husk fashioned to resemble true journalism, but inside, instead of facts, there is nothing.

      The answer to the question from TFA is definitely 'hell no' partially b/c of the reasons given in your post, but more importantly, because any sort of internet user provided journalism will inevitably need an editorial function for it to be usable.
      • by jez9999 (618189)
        The answer to the question from TFA is definitely 'hell no' partially b/c of the reasons given in your post, but more importantly, because any sort of internet user provided journalism will inevitably need an editorial function for it to be usable.

        Absolutely. Just look at the difference in the quality of news between Digg and Slashdot.
  • A Million Monkeys (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Gothmolly (148874) on Sunday February 17, 2008 @10:31AM (#22453440)
    You can put a million monkeys in front of typewriters, but yet AOL is nothing like Shakespeare. Just because Sally Jo Walmart captures something on her cellphone camera, and has the wherewithal to upload it to CNN, doesn't mean that its news, insightful, or "appropriate" to their nebulous guidelines. Nothing shocking or anti-establishment will ever air, nor will anything that scoops CNN itself. Its nice and bloggy and Web-two-oh, but so are Digg and Fark and Slashdot.
    • by CrazedWalrus (901897) on Sunday February 17, 2008 @10:39AM (#22453506) Journal
      I don't really get this elitism when it comes to the press. Why is it that somebody with a video camera of first-person experience is considered a monkey? Why are the highly-paid monkeys a thousand miles away, who are taking their lines from teleprompters more qualified than the monkey who was there? Because there might be grammar mistakes? Not everyone is an English major, but that doesn't make them a monkey.
      • Re:A Million Monkeys (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ContractualObligatio (850987) on Sunday February 17, 2008 @11:04AM (#22453648)

        Why is it that somebody with a video camera of first-person experience is considered a monkey?

        The incredible inaccuracy of eye witness accounts is well known. It is also a truism that the camera lies; a singe perspective can be dangerous. Grammar has nothing to do with it. Being objective does not mean elitism.

        There's a helluva lot to be said for people interested in journalism to be able to earn a living from it, to earn respect for doing a good job, and for having an organisation that can support them, mentor them as they learn their trade, and get them direct access to the highest politicians in their country.

        I personally don't think anyone has managed to beat the model of the UK's BBC, where the state-funded-but-independently-governed design allows for experienced commentary and challenging interviews without the ratings and advertisers having any influence. Not a perfect system, but the best I'm aware of. The BBC takes in photos and other submissions from the public, which allows the first person experience even where the network does not have resources on the ground, while still allowing for some editorial quality control.

        • by CrazedWalrus (901897) on Sunday February 17, 2008 @11:40AM (#22453880) Journal

          The incredible inaccuracy of eye witness accounts is well known. It is also a truism that the camera lies; a singe perspective can be dangerous.


          Which is exactly why the news media has so much power. They choose the shots that say what they want them to say. Socially-driven content will contain multiple perspectives from multiple sources. It is therefore easier to compare and find the truth -- even if an individual perspective is incorrect.

          There's a helluva lot to be said for people interested in journalism to be able to earn a living from it, to earn respect for doing a good job, and for having an organisation that can support them, mentor them as they learn their trade, and get them direct access to the highest politicians in their country.


          That may be true, and I'm not saying necessarily that major media has no place at all. I'm just saying that socially-driven news sites are a necessary competition, supplement, and counter-agent.
          • I agree, but that wasn't what the GP asked.

            Any given socially-driven news site is highly likely to a partisan instance of groupthink. So when the question is asked why would I value a major outlet over a such a website, the answer is that because the major outlet's viewpoint is significantly more likely to be better informed and closer to the truth. I don't think this is elitism - there's a lot of funding, career development, professional reputation and so forth that makes this possible. The fact I believe
        • by vertinox (846076) on Sunday February 17, 2008 @11:45AM (#22453920)
          The incredible inaccuracy of eye witness accounts is well known. It is also a truism that the camera lies; a singe perspective can be dangerous. Grammar has nothing to do with it. Being objective does not mean elitism.

          True objectivism would review all sources and not just trusted or professional ones. Simply dismissing eye witness accounts and photographic evidence because they could be wrong is not objective either.

          Take the execution of Saddam Hussein. One could troll Youtube for countless uncensored versions of it, but on the nightly news, it played without sound and usually cut off right before they dropped him.

          If you think people can't handle the whole part of the news, then perhaps that is where elitism comes into play. The problem with the current professional news in all mediums is that there is some type of spin on it with subtraction of context and addition of irrelevant language.

          Of course, that could simply be a problem with the English language and I'd rather see facts and unedited media first hand than have someone decide what is important to me.
          • True objectivism would review all sources

            True objectivity is not possible. That's why eyewitness accounts - known to be unreliable - are still valuable. I notice you've taken the exact opposite meaning out of my post. Even attempting to objective is clearly not one of your strong points.

            If you think people can't handle the whole part of the news

            You'll have to explain this one to me. How does pointing out the well known fact that eyewitness accounts are unreliable in any way suggestion that I'm talking so

      • by cliffiecee (136220) on Sunday February 17, 2008 @11:10AM (#22453680) Homepage Journal
        "Why are the highly-paid monkeys a thousand miles away, who are taking their lines from teleprompters more qualified than the monkey who was there? Because there might be grammar mistakes?"

        Not because there might be grammar mistakes, but because there might be logic mistakes- incorrect assumptions, poor analogies, or fallacious reasoning. Which isn't to say that's exactly what we get with so-called liberal or conservative media; but at least they make an effort to appear balanced, and can (and should) be called on it when they don't make the effort. The man-on-the-street lacks that accountability.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by CrazedWalrus (901897)
          Amigo, you're calling me on what you consider a logic error, and I'm not a professional. It's the social aspect that makes this work. If the original commenter asserts something fallacious, he can be called on it. Contrast that with the news networks, who are deliberately misleading and well-paid to be so.
      • You obviously haven't seen what most of the entries look like. Monkeys with video cams would be a step up.
        • True as that may be, at least the footage exists and has been shown. If we rely on a few organizations to take said footage, the quality might be better, but the money shot might be completely missing. What if there were 300 amateur video cameras at the JFK assassination? Would this bit be in Wikipedia? Maybe, maybe not, but the odds certainly increase for "maybe not".

          President Johnson created the Warren Commission--chaired by Chief Justice Earl Warren--to investigate the assassination. It concluded that Os

      • by digitig (1056110)
        Is the idea that a trained professional can do a better job than an amateur "elitism"? Do you think air traffic control should be done by trained experts or do you think that anybody with an internet connection should be able to grab a chunk of airspace and control the aircraft in it? Yes, there's a difference between safety-of-life applications and journalism, but it seems to me to be a difference of degree, not of principle. If nothing else, the employed professional can be fired (and maybe held to accoun
        • by CrazedWalrus (901897) on Sunday February 17, 2008 @02:39PM (#22455322) Journal
          No. It's elitism when these guys have the power to greatly influence elections, decide when footage is something we "shouldn't see" (someone else mentioned the Hussein hanging), or otherwise decide which information they want the public to know or the perceptions they should have. There's a difference between doing a good job and abusing your pulpit.

          Obviously a trained reporter can *report* better than an amateur, but there's not a lot of reporting going on nowadays. It's mostly "Hey, this happened. The next hour is my opinion and speculation presented as fact."

          Air traffic control and news media are pretty different animals as well, so I'm not so sure your analogy flies, so to speak. Either way, if air traffic controllers spent 5% of their time controlling traffic and the other 95% arguing over whether Boeing or Airbus will win that big defense contract (or whatever), I'd say they weren't very good air traffic controllers either.
          • by digitig (1056110)

            No. It's elitism when these guys have the power to greatly influence elections, decide when footage is something we "shouldn't see" (someone else mentioned the Hussein hanging), or otherwise decide which information they want the public to know or the perceptions they should have. There's a difference between doing a good job and abusing your pulpit.

            I don't think that's elitism, I think that's abuse of position (which you come to at the end of the paragraph).

            The trouble with unedited user-generated content is that it's data, not information. Without a context it's probably worse than biased reporting. After all, who's going to be in a position to produce the best (ie, most persuasive) "user [fnord] generated" content? Those with the biggest PR budgets, that's who. In this vision of news generation we lose even the tiny bit of accountability that we

      • by Alchemist253 (992849) on Sunday February 17, 2008 @04:57PM (#22456312)
        First, I think you will find many people (myself included), who have much more respect for PRINT journalists than TELEVISION journalists. It has been observed (on C-SPAN, don't have the reference unfortunately) that evening news typically rips stories from the pages of that morning's New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal.

        Second, while I will concede that some rather trivial local affairs (e.g. the iron chef competition at the county fair) could be covered adequately by "citizen journalists," real INVESTIGATIVE reporting (which lies at the heart of the First Amendment protection of the Press) is very difficult, very time consuming, and very expensive. It is unlikely that the general public will ever be able to break meaningful stories on subjects like Watergate, warrantless wiretapping, or Enron. The reasons for this are manifold, and are at least in part articulated by Scott Gant ("We're All Journalists Now"):

        i) The working Press have special access privileges (e.g. priority seating in courtrooms, embedded reporting in wartimes, etc.) that must be limited out of physical necessity. They also receive privileged treatment that would be financially impractical if doled out to everyone (e.g. no-cost Freedom of Information Act requests).

        ii) To understand subjects like Enron in even a moderately sophisticated manner requires devoting one's life to their study, for weeks, months, or even YEARS. Since the vast majority of the non-Press have day jobs, this is all but impossible.

        iii) The Press rely heavily on confidential sources, not necessarily to provide substantive information (certainly not without fact-checking) but certainly to provide a starting point for future information. Such sources confide in the Press because of a long tradition of confidentiality and respect by members of the Press; indeed, reporters have gone to prison for refusing to disclose their sources. Additionally, confidential sources - who very well could be breaking the law by talking to reporters - may have a degree of trust that a reporter will not disclose information that is unduly personally damaging or that would materially harm the national interest. It is unlikely that Daniel Ellsberg would have leaked the Pentagon Papers to his hairdresser. (And if anyone reading this does not know the name Daniel Ellsberg, for the love of God pick up a history book.)

        iv) No matter what pundits may say, journalists at major newspapers take great pains to be unbiased. (Do not confuse the opinion pages with the news pages; in good newspapers there is NO crosstalk between the two.) If you don't believe me, look at the news sections of the Wall Street Journal or the Christian Science Monitor. Neither neoconservativism (abundant in the editorial's of the former) nor religion (built into the charter of the latter) creep into the news in either. Similarly, the New York Times - bastion of editorial liberalism - always takes care to give all sides of an issue voice in a news article. While blogs and websites DO exist with a similar level of impartiality, they are few and far between. It simply is not the way of the blogger (or the human in general).
        • First, I think you will find many people (myself included), who have much more respect for PRINT journalists than TELEVISION journalists. It has been observed (on C-SPAN, don't have the reference unfortunately) that evening news typically rips stories from the pages of that morning's New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal.

          And print journalists do the same thing - rip stories from the evening news and print them up the next day or so.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by rmckeethen (130580)

          While it's true that reporters can sometimes get privileged access -- to crime scenes for example, if you've taken the time to get a press pass beforehand and if the police are feeling particularly generous that day -- courtroom access isn't always privileged, at least not here in California. If you want to report on courtroom proceedings in California, you have no more special access than any other citizen who happens to show up for a courtroom seat that day. Usually, your best bet to get one of a limite

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mdfst13 (664665)

          real INVESTIGATIVE reporting (which lies at the heart of the First Amendment protection of the Press)

          I see this stated often but established never. I think that this is you creating a right that you think should exist. Is there any evidence that anything like investigative journalism even existed in the eighteenth century?

          The first amendment is about protecting the rights of normal individuals. A normal individual has the right to speak freely, to print (written speech) freely, to practice one's religion freely, and to peaceably assemble with others (for the redress of grievances). The free press of t

      • by VanessaE (970834)

        Because there might be grammar mistakes? Not everyone is an English major, but that doesn't make them a monkey.

        While I may not write perfectly clean English all of the time, this is a major pet peeve of mine. Maybe most of us aren't English scholars today, but, speaking from an American standpoint for a moment, just about every* single child here was an English major throughout most of their later school years, to say nothing of the children schooled in certain other countries which simply put our educat

  • newsvine (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 17, 2008 @10:31AM (#22453442)
    This sounds fairly similar to Newsvine, [newsvine.com] a site that was launched a few years ago for the purpose of community-driven reporting. Since then, it has been acquired by MSNBC, and several of the more prominent submitters there have either been interviewed or actually done some reporting on MSNBC. Killfile, one of the members there was in or near Blacksburg, VA when the school shootings happened last year. Thanks to his contacts at the school, he was able to post up-to-the-minute reports of exactly what was going on, while the other news outlets were busy trying to get people down there (which takes several hours since it's an out-of-the-way hamlet). His professionalism in that and other instances have made him one of the biggest assets there. Oh yeah, and Newsvine also shares the ad revenue with its submitters, too. It's a great community.
  • One can only hope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CrazedWalrus (901897) on Sunday February 17, 2008 @10:32AM (#22453452) Journal
    One can only hope that this is the future of news. News nowadays is nothing but pundits and propaganda. Individuals have their opinions too, but they're not professional spin machines. Any bias will probably be much more obvious to people with broken bullshit detectors. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

    Depending on your political point of view, you might think I'm referring specifically to MSNBC, Fox, or CNN. Fact is, I'm talking about all of them.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      "News nowadays is nothing but pundits and propaganda. Individuals have their opinions too, but they're not professional spin machines."

      Your estimation of every person in society is either very high or very naive.
      • by CrazedWalrus (901897) on Sunday February 17, 2008 @10:46AM (#22453550) Journal
        There's a difference between an amateur stating or including their opinion and being a professional who spins for a living. The latter are much more practiced and much more convincing, to the point that many people accept O'Reilly's or Anderson Cooper's opinion as fact, most times without question. There's this implicit trust of the talking head in the suit that shouldn't exist. If news were created by obvious amateurs, perhaps more people would take it with a grain of salt.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by popmaker (570147)
          Just like wikipedia. Out of the comparisons they have done of wikipedia vs. britannica, britannica has usually come out on top, having fewer errors in it. That is not surprising. It IS however surprising, that britannica HAD quite a lot of errors in it. There are more errors in wikipedia - but we KNOW that! I had never even thought that professional encyclopedias could be wrong, but of course they can be. Now I'm a little better at reading them since I always know of the possibility that what I am reading m
        • by SkyDude (919251)

          ...to the point that many people accept O'Reilly's or Anderson Cooper's opinion as fact, most times without question.

          Exactly how did you arrive at this conclusion? Are you one of those who think that because someone disagrees with your views they must be a programmed drone of Limbaugh, O'Reilly or Cooper? Or did you hear it from David Letterman, John Stewart or Steven Colbert?

          Message to /. drones: stop being such elitists. You're not the only one with an education. Indeed, I might just hold the opinion that your education is flawed if you think this way.

          • by neomunk (913773)
            I just want to point out that you're comparing people who are supposedly REPORTERS with people who are current-event COMEDIANS.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by SkyDude (919251)
              Point is taken and understood. Unfortunately, there are many viewers whose only source of news is the comedians. Surveys have been conducted that back this up, I just can't point you to one at this moment.

              Regrettably, many so-called reporters such as Keith Olbermann pass off their opinion as news. There's no problem with a reporter offering his/her opinion, but they could be honest about it and label it as such. O'Reilly clearly states this on his show, although when he spends much time as he does reporting
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tarogue (84626)
      News isn't supposed to be opinion. Network news, as opposed to cable news, is far more professional, usually (note the usually) including fact checking and background information. Cable news has already degraded to the point where Joe Blow can be as good as Wolf Blitzer. Cable news needs the story now, corrections can be thrown in later, after the public has already made up it's collective mind. That is actually one of the biggest problems with /.; the links to blogs, which then link to other blogs, which f
      • That's exactly my point. As long as the news is no better than Joe Blow, we may as well listen to Joe Blow. At least Joe isn't paid a million a year to advance an agenda.
  • by Corf (145778) on Sunday February 17, 2008 @10:33AM (#22453458) Journal
    Did you read Fark on September 11, 2001?

    They were one of few sites with the bandwidth and the eyewitness accounts to accurately describe and present what was going on. I can wait a day or two for analysis -- when something big happens, I'll turn to somewhere like that for immediate presence. It's more annoying to separate the wheat from the chaff, but it's also an experience one doesn't get sitting in front of a TV or reading the sanitized version on the AP.
  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Sunday February 17, 2008 @10:44AM (#22453536)
    Well, I suppose that's slightly less lame than having shows where pretty plastic anchorettes read us the blogs.
  • by thebian (1218280) on Sunday February 17, 2008 @10:47AM (#22453556)

    When I can a.) call the White House and get a serious answer to a serious question, and b.) when I have a substantial amount of your trust that I'm telling you the truth, then I can do what big media does.

    Without those, my story about the alien spacecraft in my backyard is equal to my story about the White House press conference.

    • by Sleepy (4551) on Sunday February 17, 2008 @12:32PM (#22454300) Homepage
      By your criteria, the mainstream press fails just as badly.

      >When I can a.) call the White House and get a serious answer to a serious question

      Are you SERIOUS? Can you not remember ANY of the press coverage post-911, when the PRESS was as guilty as the White House in drumming up The War?

      Remember, this ALSO came at a time when 2 of the 3 major networks are subsidiaries OF military industrial complex corporations.

      To keep pressure on the fourth network, Fox... oh wait, no pressure was needed.

      Oh yeah, to keep pressure on the third network (Disney), the FCC was looking to "relax ownership limits" on broadcast TV (which leads to greater concentration in one network but the real value is the individual local channels become inflated, can actually have buyers)

      The press wasn't misled... they dodged some very serious issues and questions. After all, they have an obligation to serve the stockholders (funds mostly, and funds could see the spending spree written on the wall)
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Sunday February 17, 2008 @10:49AM (#22453564) Homepage Journal
    The future of news is when we've got clickable video with overlays of commentary from people among our social networks, and from people selected by weightings from our social networks. Centralized TV news "anchors" will be replaced by pros who are the most popular, who we subscribe to.

    The "open news content" will come first, but it will suck until our social networks make our filter as easy as flipping to "Cronkite" used to be.
  • Not What I Want (Score:4, Insightful)

    by reallocate (142797) on Sunday February 17, 2008 @10:55AM (#22453614)
    >>"unfiltered and unedited content..."

    Sounds like Slashdot. Just what I don't want. "Unfiltered and unedited" means writers' mistakes, biases and lies slip through because there's no one in the loop to catch and eliminate them, and the readers won't either. Result: more jabber, less news.

    • No one in the loop to catch them? Do you read the /. comments? Readers regularly point out bad summaries, dupes, outright lies, and argue both sides of the story. That's the power of user-driven content. Not only does it not go unchallenged, it is posted with the expectation that it will be challenged by everyone in the world. When was the last time CNN let you publicly and instantly comment on the air about their TV broadcast?
      • Why should I think someone who says an earlier post is a lie is any more credible than I do the original poster?

        I don't know about you, but I decide the credibility of any single source -- CNN or a Slashdot commenter -- by spending a lot of time with that source and seeing how it measures up against everything else I read.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by CrazedWalrus (901897)
          As a regular Slashdot reader, I've gotten pretty good at picking out asshats, trolls, and people who have no idea what they're talking about. The advantage here is that you have someone suggesting to you that X might not be true, and, if their opinion is worth considering, will make an attempt at backing up the assertion. You then have something to go on to do your own research. With regular news outlets, you have little opportunity for someone to suggest that an aspect of the story is flawed.

          You don't need
          • >> "With regular news outlets, you have little opportunity for someone to suggest that an aspect of the story is flawed."

            I'm the one who does that.

            I just think the search for a single perfect news source is silly and a waste of time. I also think there is no more reason to expect a "flat" bunch of anonymous "users" to be any better at producing news than a "hierarchy" of professionals. The process you say you use here at /. is exactly the same process sensible people have always applied to gathering
            • The difference is the knowledge base and they number of eyes. You don't personally know everything about everything. If someone more knowledgeable on the topic comes along and points out that something is BS, they've now flagged something you might not have noticed. You can then go find out more for yourself.
              • >>"If someone more knowledgeable on the topic comes along and points out that something is BS... "

                But there is no way to know who among all the /. commenters is credible on any given topic. Besides, knowledge about a subject is not necessarily a prerequisite for creating a credible and accurate news story. Would you trust a story about Microsoft that was bylined by Bill Gates? No. What you need to create a credible news story, among other attributes, is an ability to recognize your own biases and li
                • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                  by CrazedWalrus (901897)
                  Again, the key here is, if it's important to you, do your own checking. If it's not, forget it and move on. The fact that lots of people are available to call BS actually *increases* the credibility of the article written by Bill Gates if the only people calling BS are obvious wackos. If someone provides a reasoned argument, it's up to you to investigate the truth of that argument as much as it is up to you to investigate Gates' article itself. The value is in the possibility of presenting the opposing view
                  • How do you know someone is an "obvious wacko"" How do you know someone has presented a "reasoned argument"? However you make that determination on /., it is exactly the same method you use anywhere else, with any source.

                    When a commenter points out what he alleges to be a mistake or a bias in an article, that is precisely the same editorial function performed in a more "hierarchical" structure. (It's worth noting that /. is also hierarchical in that a very few people determine the stories that are publishe
                    • To add to this, I don't "trust" traditional or hierarchical reporters or editors any more that I trust "user-generated" news. But, I do think it is much more difficult to determine the credibility of any single "user" because I will never be exposed to their writing in the depth or at the length I'm exposed to traditional news writing. E.g., I can read the NYT every day, and form an assessment of that paper based on that exposure. I'm never going to be able to form an equivalent assessment of some anonymou
                    • by neomunk (913773)
                      I think the thing you're not quite grasping about the whole idea doesn't have anything at all to do with trust or credability. It's all about seeing words you haven't thought to give any meaningful correlation to a certain subject used in reference to the subject.

                      Simple example: A story about a warehouse fire is presented on both CNN and slashdot.

                      CNN: Videos of a warehouse fire, and an official telling us the cause was old electrical wiring. Lots and lots of commentary about the possible hazards of any c
                    • News and information are not synonymous. The CNN video, plus the reporting of the fire and the official quote, constitute a news story. Any "commentary" obviously is just that, not news. It's not even on the table in this discussion.

                      Slashdot, probably a day or two after the fact, runs a link to a news story created by someone one else. That's information, but it isn't news anymore. Ditto that lengthy post about OSHA and liability, etc.

                      Again, however, what reason do I have to assume that an anonymous pos
  • Yes (Score:2, Interesting)

    by hoshino (790390)

    I think it's already happening.

    This doesn't mean that news will become inaccurate or drop in quality. People will still want to read edited content produced by intelligent writers and those who provide them will naturally gain prominence and credibility. It's a rather nice change from the past where credibility depends on how much money you have to produce and distribute the content.

    Of course, I'm only talking about corporate publications vs. blogs. TV newscast still has requires some infrastructure to

    • by Lewrker (749844)
      You are talking about the world where tabloids sell more copies than all of the broadsheet journals together. People want the shiniest and the loudest, not edited and professional.
  • Lets clairify.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 3seas (184403) on Sunday February 17, 2008 @11:09AM (#22453672) Journal
    Traditional news media which is based on popularity draw and teh use of reporter dirty tricks to bias and make an ant hill sound like a mountain....

    vs.

    user reporting that even slashdot has proven to be closer to the truth.

    Entertainment value or information value?
  • by Morris Thorpe (762715) on Sunday February 17, 2008 @11:21AM (#22453744)
    The examples of citizen journalism cited (9/11, a bridge collapse) are about eyewitness accounts. Taking a picture of an event you happen to stumble into is hardly journalism.
    When it comes to real in-depth news reporting, i-reporting can never, never replace professional news outlets. Solid reporting requires time, know-how, resources and money.

    For example, the biggest story of the day is Kosovo declaring independence from Serbia. Tell me how that story can be researched, shot and written and presented by the average person. And for free? Yes, they can get reaction to the story. But putting it in context is entirely different.

    There is much bias, sensationalism and broadcast "journalists" who are no more than pretty faces or loudmouth know-it-alls. Still, there are many real reporters out there doing real reporting. We will always need them.
    • by Esc7 (996317) on Sunday February 17, 2008 @01:18PM (#22454712)
      Hear hear!

      What news requires is synthesis, taking information from all around the world, creating context, and informing people of what it all means. User generated news will never be able to compete with someone who is paid to investigate, understand and report professionally.

      Unfortunately modern American news (from what I've seen) has completely dropped true synthesis in fear of bias. The false dichotomy of that there are 2 sides to every issue, even factual ones, is what makes news into simple parroting of press releases and dry facts, pushing all synthesis to the realm of punditry, which has no credibility whatsoever.

      So while user-generated news is probably rising, and traditional news outlets are probably hurting in a big way lately, I think it's all because the news lost its spine and won't concentrate on what makes news great. A new organization will probably rise over CNN, Fox, MSNBC.....but the AP won't die.
  • Crowdsourcing (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Good or bad? I don't know, but this practice has a name. Use it.
  • News can do well to be published everyday people like us. We break stories and comment on stuff that's happening out there that ordinary reporters tend to miss. However, many reporters are great writers, that give you the background to the story, as well as what's new happening. And reporters who are also good writers tend to make it easy and a pleasure to read.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The most read news article on that website was "BREAKING NEWS Ketchup... killed by mustard". I this the future of news?
  • by stormguard2099 (1177733) on Sunday February 17, 2008 @11:31AM (#22453812)
    The summary pushes the idea that there is only room for one dominant news system. Why? I think that we could benefit from a healthy mixture of news sources and journalism styles. Both systems have their strengths and weaknesses and when someone takes information from both they get a better rounded idea of what actually happened and how to intrepret it.
  • I hope not (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Animats (122034) on Sunday February 17, 2008 @11:57AM (#22454002) Homepage

    I hope this isn't the future of news.

    The number of real news reporters keeps dropping. Most stories today, other than those that involve some act of violence or a disaster, originated as a press release or staged media event. Very few reporters are out there digging. Digging takes time and money.

  • People are getting wise and no longer expect corporate/government news sources to provide them with anything close to the truth. More and more, they are turning to various independent Internet news sources, and make up their own minds about what is credible, and what is not.

    News sources such as these: http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/ [whatreallyhappened.com] http://www.opednews.com/ [opednews.com] http://www.electricpolitics.com/ [electricpolitics.com] http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/ [informatio...house.info]

    • by nbauman (624611)

      People are getting wise and no longer expect corporate/government news sources to provide them with anything close to the truth. More and more, they are turning to various independent Internet news sources, and make up their own minds about what is credible, and what is not.

      News sources such as these: http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/ [whatreallyhappened.com]

      You mean like, "First Hour: Allan Favish in the murder of Vince Foster"?

      I give up. You've found a news source less reliable than Judy Miller.

      • by Eukariote (881204)

        I give up. You've found a news source less reliable than Judy Miller.

        Don't give up buddy. Strive for an open mind. You picked out one detail, pronounce a verdict based on a preconception, then generalize to the conclusion that the whole source is unreliable. Why not try for a while what I suggest: turn to independent news sources and carefully make up your own mind. Pretty soon, you will find out that http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/ [whatreallyhappened.com] is a rather more reliable news source than anything the corporate medi

  • You work, I get paid! Fan-fucking-tastic!

    I'd normally add a "zing!" to the end of this post to make it clear it's supposed to be funny, but since this model is actually being exploited... well, it's not funny... just sad.

    Fox (save the bashing, it only makes you seem like a brainwashed, meme-spewing twit) is doing the same thing, too. They call it (IIRC) "uReport". So, CNN isn't alone in this.

    Here's the deal: if a news outlet wants to profit from your work, demand credit and/or a slice of the pie. Give the b
  • by nbauman (624611) on Sunday February 17, 2008 @12:19PM (#22454196) Homepage Journal
    As a journalist I'm not worried that citizen journalists will do my job better than me any time soon (although I wish they would, because it would be better for the world).

    When I first started writing news, for alternative newspapers, I thought it was easy. I knew who the good guys were, and who the bad guys were, and all I had to do was expose them. Just try it. If only it were that easy.

    The most important lesson I learned as a real journalist, as distinct from a hippie journalist, is that whenever you attack the bastards, always call them up and give them a chance to respond. Let them defend themselves, and then show how they're lying. Just try it. Every real journalist (Molly Ivins, for one) will tell you all the times they thought they had the guy nailed, but when they called him up, it turned the story completely around.

    There was a story on This American Life http://www.thislife.org/ [thislife.org] about a kid who was in Europe, and talked his way into a press conference with George H.W. Bush (the father, not the stupid one). Good work so far. Then he got a chance to ask the President of the United States a question on the environment. Bush said that he supported nuclear power because it would do, overall, less harm to the environment. He actually made some good points.

    The kid hadn't done his homework. He didn't know how to frame a good question that would pin the bastard down, and he didn't know how to follow it up. He didn't know shit about the environment. Bush had probably answered the same question a dozen times before, knew more about the environment than the kid did, and knew how to give a good answer. TAL played a tape of the press conference, and it was painful for me to listen, because I'd been in that same situation so many times before. (If you want to become a citizen journalist, you can practice getting prepared by looking up that story on the TAL web site. This will give you an idea of how hard it is to do research.)

    Look at what I think is one of the best news sources in English: Democracy Now http://www.democracynow.org/ [democracynow.org] Take a look at this: http://www.democracynow.org/2008/1/28/the_democrats_suharto_bill_clinton_richard [democracynow.org] There is no way that any citizen journalist is going to be able to question Richard Holbrooke or Bill Clinton about human rights the way Alan Nairn and Amy Goodman did. Or this http://www.democracynow.org/features [democracynow.org] They know their facts thorougly.

    Who do you want grilling your so-called elected leaders -- Amy Goodman, or some well-intentioned "activist" who doesn't know his facts (like those ringers they have in the audience during the presidential debates)?

    I'm not defending the White House press corps either. Sure, the average stoned activist could do a better job than Judy Miller, but that's a pretty low bar.

    There is one case where citizen journalists can do a good job, and that's as first-hand eyewitnesses. I remember going to an anti-war demonstration during the '60s, and having the New York City police viciously attack non-violent demonstrators (including me), some of whom had brought their children, and put some of them in the hospital with permanent injuries, for no reason that I could see (or that the City's lawyers could come up with in subsequent lawsuits). Running for safety, I came across a bunch of guys with press badges, huddled safely away from the scene where they couldn't witness the police brutality. On WBAI-FM radio, we heard first-hand accounts of what happened on the scene, which was consistent with what I saw.

    Next morning, I picked up the New York Times, and saw a complete propaganda job, quoting only the police and City officials, claiming that the demonstrators had started it, it was the demonstrators' fault, and the cops had behaved with proper restraint. The Times didn'

    • When I read the question, "is this the future of journalism," I was thinking of something completely different. Most of the discussion here seems to be asking whether citizen journalism is "better" or "worse" than professional journalism. I think anyone would agree that a trained, professional journalist who does his job diligently will be able to do a better job than the average shmoe on the street. I think the real question is, just how many of those professionals are there going to be in the future?

      Is th
    • So you're a liberal journalist - surprise, surprise. You're against nuclear power, you think Republicans are bastards because they don't agree with your worldview, and you think the New York Times is insufficiently leftist.
  • User generated news stories enrich the field of journalism, it does not replace traditional journalism. It has been stated before, but there are in general differences between amateurs and professionals, partly due to amount of time available to research and partly due to reputation. The reputation ("Karma" ...) is an important point. Examples
    • I pay attention to article by Rich in the NYT not only because it is well written and documented, but also because for a long time already, articles have proven to
  • The top story there is now:

    BREAKING NEWS Ketchup
    Victorville, California


    ZOMG mustard wanted for questioning

    Tags: mideast, ketchup

    I rest my case...
  • Gargoyles (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Aeonite (263338)
    It's a gargoyle, standing in the dimness next to a shanty. Just in case
    he's not already conspicuous enough, he's wearing a suit. Hiro starts
    walking toward him.

    Gargoyles represent the embarrassing side of the Central Intelligence
    Corporation. Instead of using laptops, they wear their computers on their
    bodies, broken up into separate modules that hang on the waist, on the back,
    on the headset. They serve as human surveillance devices, recording
    everyt
  • Where's that video clip about Google buying all the news sources, becoming not just the purveyor but the *creator* of all news?

    I'm not talking about the "Google Master Plan" video, but another clip that's a few years old by now. Anyone?
  • Just took a look at iReport.com and saw the following in the "most viewed" category:
    BREAKING NEWS: Ketchup
    Yuck! The weather here in New York is absolutely *disgusting*
    Thursday Lunch Report: Omelete!
    Marcus Harun's Situation Room. [Book report done in CNN Situation Room style]
    Image. My village pictures

  • If they are selling this as "news" then that is a problem. User generated information and exchanges are fine. If people want to talk about what they see in the world or report things around them that's fine and it has it's place. Communities online and webblogs and forums are a great way to allow open exchange between citizens.

    But it can be very dangerous to mistake online banter for serious news reports. If a news agency wants to use citizens as eyewitness sources fine, but they have to verify and
  • This is sounding more and more like what he said would happen in his book. It's an interesting read.
  • The Real News [therealnews.com] might be a glimpse of the future. It carries no advertising and works on a donation basis. Mainstream media outlets really just act as a megaphone for governments and big business. For anyone who is interested in the way news is reported, I would strongly recommend you watch Manufacturing Consent [youtube.com] on Youtube (there's a book too).
  • This seriously works for commentaries. Al Jazeera International does it since it's start. You can just send your video commentary about any topic to them, and if it's good they will publish it.

    And seriously, at the current state of CNNs news coverage, even getting reports about broken pickle jars in supermarkets would be an improvement. I mean they will surely censor out the good stuff anyhow. Stuff that would deserve to be in the media.
  • Heck, I get nearly all my news over the internet. Slashdot is a huge part of this. We do it here all the time.

    Pattern:

    A news item is posted on Slashdot. You read that.

    Then you skim the comments, and that's where the real story is revealed. --People chiming in with many different views and arguments, sometimes with a couple of people who are personally connected to some aspect of the information in a way the rest of us are not. The extra links provided by people who are curious or who want to argue the
  • believing reporters who have a reputation to defend; I'm not interested in the whitterings of a bunch of bloggers with delusions of grandeur.

    TWW

  • by blankoboy (719577)
    So, I assume that CNN will be paying the folks who's reports are used? If they don't institute some sort of royalty system it won't take long for some other news corp to step up and scoop everyone away from CNN's service.

    p> I know that if I were to get video of some incredibly news worth event that there would be no way in h3ll I would be handing it over for free....that's just my cheap-ass though.

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not "Eureka!" (I found it!) but "That's funny ..." -- Isaac Asimov

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