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Misadventures In Online Journalism 133

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

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

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

  • On posting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jamesl (106902) on Sunday October 11, 2009 @11:10AM (#29711163)

    Better late than wrong. Better never than stupid.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

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

      • by mathx314 (1365325)

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

        North Korea Nukes Los Angeles, Millions Feared Dead

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

        Alright, so it's an extreme

        • by osu-neko (2604)

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

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

          • Re:On posting (Score:5, Insightful)

            by commodore64_love (1445365) on Sunday October 11, 2009 @02:22PM (#29712253) Journal

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

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

          • by DarkOx (621550)

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

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

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

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

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by linhares (1241614)
            How about the CNN story on proof of Bigfoot [cnn.com]? Or Cnn's fail in the iranian election? I used to be a giant fan of CNN, today I've moved on to BBC/The Economist/Blogs. Even Slashdot is more reliable than those idiots. And no, I'm not new here: I browse at +4.
          • by rtb61 (674572)

            Late or wrong really are pretty much the same in journalism. What is different is the correction, in old world media the correction had top be fought for under threat of civil suit, now the correction often comes out just as quickly as the original story and eventually overtakes and replaces it. This seems reasonable apart from of course commercially driven lies and of course government propaganda.

            So the trick in modern internet journalism is to differentiate between commercially driven for profit lies,

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by R3d M3rcury (871886)

          North Korea Nukes Los Angeles, Millions Feared Dead

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

          • by linhares (1241614)
            SH*T My brother is in there. Any word from the President? We must obliterate those f*ckers to prehistory!

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

          • by DRACO- (175113)

            But you've got no arms left.

            Look..

      • by dkleinsc (563838)

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

  • by HangingChad (677530) on Sunday October 11, 2009 @11:16AM (#29711195) Homepage

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

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

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

    • by causality (777677) on Sunday October 11, 2009 @12:21PM (#29711571)

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

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

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

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

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by badasscat (563442)

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

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

        You are a perfect exa

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by RocketRabbit (830691)

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

          That you quoted a report that includes the suicidal and didn't mention it, makes me wonder if the wool hasn't been pulled over your own eyes. Then again, the first linked article explicitly quotes Daniel Webster and if you ha

          • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 11, 2009 @04:13PM (#29712847)

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

            Abstract:

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

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

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

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

            Huh. I guess fact-checking is important.

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by izomiac (815208)
              You're doing exactly what the GGGP pointed out, selectively omitting facts (albeit possibly unintentionally). The study is true only for what was studied, and one needs to be cautious in extrapolating to the general population. E.g., how many gang members were in the non-gun carrying control group? Why are they implying causation at the end, when the data mentioned only suggests a correlation?

              I'm a bit skeptical since I recently heard the local forensic pathologist speak about gun shot wounds. Apparen
            • This was already picked apart. The authors did not control for the risk faced by the gun owners. People are more likely to be armed if they are likely to be attacked. http://reason.com/blog/2009/10/05/why-skydivers-would-be-better [reason.com]
        • by gillbates (106458)

          You are a perfect example ... journalism is a bullshit profession...

          I have to say this statement adds nothing to the debate. In the first place, its a strawman - the parent didn't claim journalism was a bullshit profession, only that the media pushes propaganda. Secondly, the point he makes holds, even if his particular example was a bad one. If he indeed is misinformed, then his point about media pushing propaganda is indeed vindicated.

          What I find interesting is that while sports reporters are ofte

      • by dkleinsc (563838)

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

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

      Your little jab at Fox News seems pretty one-sided with Dan Rather having done the same thing - reporting un-vetted fake news to supported a personal agenda is wrong no matter what your agenda is. He was fired at the height of his career, and I admit that I cheered a litt
      • reporting un-vetted fake news

        You must get your news from Fox. The documents he presented in that story were likely not original but everyone familiar with the contents verified that they were essentially correct and that the facts of the story were essentially correct. It was not "un-vetted fake news". If they would have aired the story without the documents, then you would have needed to find another excuse to attack the source.

        http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A24633-2004Sep15.html

        Ra

        • essentially correct!? Is that the new journalistic double-speak for untrue. And no - just because I disagree with you doesn't mean I watch or agree with Fox News. Swill is swill, no matter how much you claim it's Kool-Aid.
    • "Fair and balanced" is a goal -- FNC may not achieve it, but CNN and MSNBC don't even bother to try. And don't get me started on the BBC.
  • Kinda ironic (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bomanbot (980297) on Sunday October 11, 2009 @11:32AM (#29711281)
    No wonder that this sort of article is posted on Techcrunch, those guys clearly have a lot of experience in that regard! ;-)

    And no, I do not want to flame, they even use an older Techcrunch story as an example in TFA. They really speak from experience.
    • by wshs (602011)

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

  • "And then within half a minute -- bloggers being what they are -- the news gets repeated and repeated until it becomes fact." So what happens when Reuters sends out inaccurate information? It gets reproduced around the world very quickly and they certainly do make mistakes. As for editorial feedback, large media organisations seem to be far worse at taking any notice of their readers than bloggers are. For example, if you write to the BBC pointing out some howling mistake, you might be really lucky and get
    • Reuters issues apologies and if it is a big mistake has a whole article making the correction. Bloggers aren't expected to do anything. And often they don't.

      As well if Reuters makes a mistake it is because of something in the field, a misunderstanding or a commander lying. Maybe a miscount or a typo very very rarely a photographer going rogue. It is very very unlikely the Reuters will ever release an article that is wrong due to a lack of fact checking. And i doubt you can give a single example in the las
      • by mdalal97 (256621)

        mod parent up.

      • by mdwh2 (535323)

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

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

        Ah I see - so you compare Reuters specifically, to "Bloggers"? What is "Blog

        • No, I think journalists and bloggers are both crap. Investigation and fact checking is rare. I'm not saying it is impossible for good to come from them simply rare. Reuters isn't a media company. They are an information, fact gathering and verifying service. This is called a wire-feed.

          While bloggers are crap might be a generalization it is true that they have no controls or standards set for them. News sites are the same (many media groups such as fox got declared entertainment and have no legal reason to
    • by mdwh2 (535323)

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

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

      I saw an interesting case today with the death of some Boyzone member - no I don't care about the band :) But it's astonishing how all the articles are basically

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 11, 2009 @11:48AM (#29711355)

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

    • by clickety6 (141178) on Sunday October 11, 2009 @02:52PM (#29712441)

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

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

    • by paulcarr (1654469)
      You're right of course that the quote dates back through the ages, with a whole lot of variations. When I wrote the TechCrunch post I chose to quote the Churchill variation ("pants on") because it's my favourite. I didn't mean to imply that the original thought was his, just that choice of words. Also, to the commenter who pointed out that "pants" isn't the preferred term in Britain (trousers is): I'm British so I know you're right, but there *are* Brits of a certain generation/class who might still say "p
      • I thought in Britain, 'pants' reffered to your underwear. (Lies are even faster than you thought.) British people I talk to always have a good laugh when I talk about pants.

  • by nbauman (624611) on Sunday October 11, 2009 @12:09PM (#29711481) Homepage Journal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      • by nbauman (624611)

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

        Journals, or dailies if you will, are nothing more than web logs. They have no more moral value, inherent, by virtue of being printed on paper rather than displayed on a screen.

        A blogger is just as entitled to a police press pass and the protection of the First Amendment as a reporter from a metropolitan newspaper, but I've done both and there are a hell of a lot of advantages to working for a news organization. If I'm writing a biotechnology story, I could walk down the hall and talk to somebody who understood finance.

        The major newspapers, like the New York Times and the Wall Street Joural (pre-Murdoch, anyway) are able to let a reporter take six months off for intensive investig

    • by r7 (409657)

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

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

    • by gizmonic (302697) *

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

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

      • All roads lead to reuters? If you read stories from actual media, ie not blogs they DO do this, and you can follow most things back to reuters and AP. Fox and MSNBC both might link to the same reuters info amusingly enough. Or if it is particularly charged they link to nothing and you can tell right away that it is going to be a blathering opinion piece.
        • by nbauman (624611)

          If you read the Reuters story you'll see that the Reuters story has a source. For a science story, the source is the scientist who did the original research, and then if the reporter is good he'll get a comment responding to the research from another investigator who can critique it.

          In an ideal world (with editorial budgets) a reporter would do what I used to do -- take the Reuters story, call up one more expert, and add that to the story, so that as the story travels around you get more information, and mo

          • People need to understand the importance of the and rise up and request this or it'll never happen. I really can't see Fox users shutting off their TVs due to inadequately cited information... they have interviewers that berate people and cut mics so.
    • A journalist's favorite site is a hardcore lefty news organization. Nice. And how dare you impugn the honor of the New York Times, all their stories are fact-checked. At least, that's what I was angrily told last time I dared to question the veracity of the Grey Lady on slashdot.
    • by SQL Error (16383)

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

      They are your fact checkers.

      • by nbauman (624611)

        What you fail to grasp is that bloggers aren't mere journalists, they very often are experts in a particular field - ScienceBlogs [scienceblogs.com] being a good example

        I thought I pointed that out. I gave the examples of Juan Cole and Glen Greenwald.

        Blogs by experts are fine. I'm just defining the role of a journalist -- someone who isn't necessarily an expert on the subject at hand but knows how to round up experts.

        Doctor A is an expert who believes in treating a disease with surgery. Doctor B is an expert who believes in treating a disease with medication. My job as a journalist is to get Dr. A to explain why he believes in surgery, get Dr. B. to explain why he believes

  • Isn't that what the comments boxes are for. Many bloggers are naturally opionated people, who don't often change the views, or have particular views to present. With such people factoids (proven or otherwise), that accord with there opinons get passed on, and factoid that are discordant with the opinons either get dropped or argued about. Fortanantly there are so many bloggers with so many different opinon that factoids will be argued about until they been proven or otherwise (most of the time). The early f
  • by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Sunday October 11, 2009 @12:11PM (#29711501)
    That's why I only trust Slashdot to bring me tech journalism of the highest integrity.
  • Information distribution is in a gray area now between the past, when reputation came top-down from the creation of large distribution organizations as surrogates for reputation to the new model, (which still does not work well) where reputation comes bottom-up, from various sources and from group interaction. After this issue gets a lot worse, people will start using peer-weighted reputation as a filter before who they believe, but that shift will take a generation to really take hold widely.

    • by Animats (122034) on Sunday October 11, 2009 @12:26PM (#29711607) Homepage

      peer-weighted reputation...

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

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

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The press are already manipulated for political gain on occasion. This system would make it worse because it would allow a rumor to gain authenticity. Remember the most recent rumor about death panels in the health care debate? Imagine that misinformation being splashed across the front page of the NYT. Enough people believed the lie it would have happened in this situation.

        Facts are not a democracy, though a lot of people seem to think they are. You see this all the time in evolution debates where som

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

    Yahoo, always a favorite punching bag, got roasted over the Iranian story and it turns out to be FALSE? Outrageous. What can t

  • by fantomas (94850) on Sunday October 11, 2009 @12:43PM (#29711703)

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

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

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

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

  • by Anonymous Coward

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

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

    In other words, that 128-bit Windows story was a complete and total troll. A

    • I completely disagree.

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

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

      Collective editorial oversight in the wild. --It's great, because we are encouraged by the very ecosystem of Slashdot to question and hash out EVERYTHING. More often than not, when perusing the comments one will see t

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

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

      Wasn't it actually Hannibal Lecter who said that?

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

    RLH

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

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

  • And it has also been leading to (or becoming a ruse for) wars.
  • The "traditional" news agencies get just as little editorial oversight, these days.

To err is human -- to blame it on a computer is even more so.

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