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China The Media News

State Media Rushing Into Coverage Void Left By Dying Newspapers 250

derekmead writes "As newspaper budgets shrink, state-sponsored media outlets like RT, China Daily, and Al Jazeera have grown, hired more writers and offered more (free) coverage. Mark Mackinnon, writing for The Globe and Mail, explains the issue well: 'Throughout the recent crisis in Syria, and before that in Libya and Egypt, Xinhua and RT News have thrown unprecedented money and resources at reporting from the scene, even as Western media scale back on their own efforts. It's not too far-fetched to imagine a near future where it's Xinhua or RT, rather than the Associated Press or BBC, that have the only correspondents on the scene of an international crisis, meaning the world will only get Beijing or Moscow's version of what's happening.' But quality coverage still requires money, which means finding funding from somewhere. You see the effects of this every day: If your revenue is based mostly off of pay-per-click banner ads, a lowest-common denominator post, like a cheap roundup of cat pictures, is quite possibly going to pull in way more views for less money than a nuanced, deeply reported, and expensive dispatch from Syria. And, yeah, ads can be a bummer, especially when they're executed poorly, and paywalls aren't great. But when the alternatives are either fluffy, thin reporting; or worse, blatantly biased coverage sponsored by governments, we have to find a palatable way to fund good reporting."
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State Media Rushing Into Coverage Void Left By Dying Newspapers

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @05:08AM (#40450105)

    It's not too far-fetched to imagine a near future where it's Xinhua or RT, rather than the Associated Press or BBC

    The BBC isn't state sponsored media? I must be missing something

    • by rbrausse ( 1319883 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @05:42AM (#40450263)

      I think the point of this TFS sentence was western media vs middle east/far east one's, as a second spin additionally to private vs state-sponsored broadcasters.

      • by starworks5 ( 139327 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @06:26AM (#40450425) Homepage

        While people in the west were crediting facebook and twitter for organizing the arab spring, the leaders in the middle east understood that it was al jazeera that actually was responsible for forming perceptions, in some ways it exerts more influence in the middle east than any other regime in the world. I suggest that interested individuals read "propaganda" by Edward Burnayes, whom was the nephew of Sigmud Freud but far more influential, by being responsible for corporate perception management in the USA. Of course the internet has thrown the media a curve ball, but they still hold asymmetrical power and influence, which is why governments want to filter out the internet.

        I recently found this [wikimedia.org] to be good source of main world information, especially if you read it 2-3 days delayed. Clean short description of what is happening in the world. Without ads.

        This is an example of what post journalism should look like, more like citation based research conducted by qualified agents using the scientific method, analyzed and automated using Natural language processing and statistics including "reporters" as datasets. Once people can have a reasonable objective certainty of what is true and false, it will get alot easier to separate the wheat from the chaff in politics. However none of this will ever occur if we don't fight for the net neutrality and freedom of information, information asymmetry will be used to manipulate people and consensus for ulterior motives.

        • by alexander_686 ( 957440 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @09:53AM (#40451869)

          But where is the money going to come from to hire these “qualified agents”? That’s the issue for me, and I think Derkmead has it right.

          Newspapers where a bundled item. You got 1. “qualified agents” (a.k.a. reporters) and 2. A distribution channel.

          The Internet does a wonderful job of distribution and aggregating information. Wiki, Google, and it’s ilk do a decent job of promoting and editing important stuff. What it does not do well is original, unbiased research.

          But you still need a unbiased reporter on the ground in Syria taking pictures gathering data. This is something the Internet is good a providing. It’s got ADD and has a hard time concentrating on a single issue at depth.

      • by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @09:18AM (#40451467)

        In addition to state funded we should include other agenda-funded media like the Murdoch empire.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @05:51AM (#40450293)

      Because it isn't. The BBC is funded via the TV license, not taxation. It is not government controlled, it is an independent entity.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @06:14AM (#40450383)

        The TV license is a tax and the broadcast finances and license fee rises are negotiated with the UK Government every ten years. Think the Government and the British state don't have a large measure of control? Think again

        The notion that the TV license isn't a tax and the BBC isn't state-controlled is a delusion.

        • by chrb ( 1083577 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @07:13AM (#40450615)

          Think the Government and the British state don't have a large measure of control? Think again

          Officially they don't. There have been numerous governments that have criticised the reporting of the BBC but been unable to prevent it - the BBC dutifully reported NATO airstrike civilian victims during the Balkans wars, leading to government criticism that BBC in fact stood for "Belgrade Broadcasting Corporation":

          "During the Nato bombing campaign the British government was sharply critical of BBC coverage. At one stage some government officials referred to us as the Belgrade Broadcasting Corporation."- The Guardian [guardian.co.uk]

          Now, contrast this situation with an actual state controlled media - do you think such a media would even be allowed to report on civilians killed by the state military (a fact that goes against the military line that these are "no-collateral-damage precision airstrikes"?) And to continue to report on such victims of your military, even when it angers and displeases the government? And it was not just the Kosovo War, during the Falklands War government ministers accused the BBC of unpatriotic and neutral reporting - one minister angrily naming it the "Stateless Person's Broadcasting Corporation", another the "Bolshevik Broadcasting Corporation".

          The notion that the TV license isn't a tax and the BBC isn't state-controlled is a delusion.

          Compare the BBC and its successive spats with various governments to an actual state-controlled media and you will see a big difference. Do you think that real state-controlled media broadcasts any criticisms of the government? Would a real state-controlled media be allowed to report repeatedly on allegations that the government mis-represented the evidence for going to war? [wikipedia.org] If so, why do we not see this kind of criticism coming out of, say, the Chinese state media?

          • by Sir_Sri ( 199544 )

            BBC is is what you want an independent academically styled institution to be. The truth will out so to speak.

            The Cameron and Harper governments are both not fond of the BBC or CBC news arms respectively, because as arms length organizations interested in facts gets in the way of their narratives. But of course that happens to every government to some degree. When you give people free speech and tenure they'll say things you don't like. The BBC over the years has made the case very that they are interes

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          I'd rather take several different state-funded television stations than several corporate-funded ones. The latter all have similar agendas because their funding all comes from the same place, the former tend to report accurately when their particular state is not involved and thus tend to complement each other.

      • by starworks5 ( 139327 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @06:31AM (#40450453) Homepage

        The BBC USED to be government controlled, now it is a private corporation that is government funded. However the purpose and "company culture" that prevaded the BBC USED to be about public service, while in the west it was about propaganda and advertising, which is why the BBC was funded by taxes in the first place. However over the years things have changed, while the BBC is certainly better than the american media, has deviated from its traditional values considerably.

        • by madprof ( 4723 )

          Sorry but this is almost all wrong. The BBC has never been government-controlled. It is state-owned and has been since 1927. It is not a private corporation at all.

          It is subject to public service broadcasting requirements (as are Channel 4 and ITV, but not sure about Sky) and of course it has to comply with stuff like DA-notices but those apply to the whole media.

          I have to agree that it isn't quite as good as it was, but IMVHO it is still ahead of the most popular traditional media in the US. There are qua

      • It is naive to think the government has no influence over the BBC, well, some governments at least. It is foolish to think the BBC is unbiased. True unbiased reporting is unheard of in the world, it would require every story to consume more storage resources then fit in the physical universe. What am I talking about? The Israel/Palestine conflict is a prime example, since it has been decades, no centuries, no millenia of tit-for-tat, if you want to report the full story, you need to include all of human his

      • by DriedClexler ( 814907 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @09:41AM (#40451737)

        Hey, that's a neat trick!

        "State government's aren't funded by sales taxes, they're funded by a license fee on retail purchases."

        "Local public schools aren't funded by property taxes, they're funded by a land-ownership license fee."

        "Roads aren't funded by gasoline taxes, they're funded by the pump license."

        What's next? "We don't send people to jail, they just go on a 'Graybar Vacation'."

        I'm stupid enough to be fooled by labels ... and I vote!

      • by goodmanj ( 234846 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @09:52AM (#40451845)

        The BBC is funded via the TV license, not taxation. It is not government controlled, it is an independent entity.

        That's a distinction without a difference.

      • by devitto ( 230479 )

        The government is looking to change it's independance right now (interview are happening 'now'), and they have specifically allowed 'politically influenced' candidates - which people are NOT happy about.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I really wouldn't trust AP as an unbiased news source just because they are privatized. At this point, in the US, privatized basically means "an excuse to hand out government contracts." That's mainly just a bitch against the right-wing, though, my main point was this article in which the AP version differed from other version, in favor of US interests. [reason.com]

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Sadly reason isn't exactly an emblem of unbiased reporting either.

    • by Pecisk ( 688001 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @06:09AM (#40450353)

      No, BBC isn't state sponosred media, it's tax payers sponsored media (rather directly). While goverment has some oversight of BBC, comparing that RT or Xinhua is laughable at best. Both ar propaganda mouths of their respective goverments, and don't hide in shame about that.

      Sorry, but I will take BBC over any of these any day. Call me Western capitalist whore if you like.

      • by svick ( 1158077 )

        But the summary says different sources of money of different media are the cause of this situation. And in that regard BBC is comparable to RT: both are publicly funded, they don't rely on advertising.

        • by Pecisk ( 688001 )
          I can agree with that.
        • But the summary says different sources of money of different media are the cause of this situation.

          That's not really the cause of the situation, though. The cause is that the self described bastions of free media aren't doing the job they promise their readership, and haven't done so in at least a generation. So the readership has wised up and no longer spends money on newspapers and "serious' magazines as they used to, and the alternatives "state sponsored media" therefore have an evolutionary advanta

        • State Sponsored is the problem with the wording

          The BBC is funded via the government (through a tax on possessing equipment capable of receiving) but is not government controlled, how independent it is is a matter for debate, but the alternatives in the UK have not shown they are any more independent of government influence ...

          RT is government funded, controlled and run ...

        • by kyz ( 225372 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @09:02AM (#40451301) Homepage

          It seems like you have a perspective problem. If you're used to only having self-funded or advertising-funded media, then all "state-funded" media must be the same. But they're not.

          The BBC collects its license fee itself. If you don't feel like funding the BBC, don't buy a TV. RT is funded centrally from tax money. Russian income tax pays for it whether you have a TV or not.

          The Russian government owns RT. The British government does not own the BBC. At best, they own the decision about which private corporation has the right to be the national broadcaster and could take that away from the BBC.

          The Russian government decides at all levels who runs RT, as it owns it. The UK government only gets to decide the BBC's director general and its charter; much like shareholders in a private company, the UK government is an outsider with a stake in the BBC, rather than the operator.

          The Russian government likely tells RT what to say. The BBC frequently says things the the UK government doesn't want broadcast and has to take the BBC to court because it has no control over what the BBC says beyond "we might recommend to the independent review body that they cut your funding in 2016".

          If the BBC was located in Russia and acted the way it does in Britain, the Russian government would have closed it down and murdered its chief executive by now.

          The BBC's equivalent to RT is a small part of the BBC called the World Service - this is not the same as BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC. The World Service has always been funded directly by the state, from taxes, but from 2014 onwards the BBC has to pay for it by itself.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @08:02AM (#40450849)

        Unfortunately the BBC TV is no longer the 'bastion of truth' that it used to be. With the introduction of 24hr news, it has fallen into the trap of chasing quick and cheap headlines , much like a tabloid newspaper, and is really now just a marketing outlet for better prepared organizations to deliver their message to one and all. Look for any searching questions or background checks on the 'experts' and you will be watching for a long, long time. It is quite rare to find strong cases made for issues against the BBC's own agenda, which is of course very left of center politically. BBC radio is a better option for informed debate and comment.

        Contrast that with RT. Laughable you say ?
        Well, I find some of the programmes far more informative since they actually debate and argue the issues rather than delivering the official line, as with the BBC.

        Lets take a look at three progs from RT that you wouldn't get on the state sponsored BBC.

        Julian Assange show: The world tomorrow.
        Love him or hate him, what you get is influential world figures giving their point of view direct.
        Far more informative than the spun versions of isolated quotes you get in mainstream.

        Keiser report:
        Difficult to find too much wrong with the logic delivered by this guy.
        Alternatively, you can listen to the BBC , IMF, Euro muppets etc. telling you every 6 months that "The banks are NOW solvent".
        (at least even they have been questioning the rhetoric recently, but it took some years AND they simply don't dig deep enough)

        Cross Talk:
        You actually get debates / heated arguments about the issues. Again, much better than some PR exec delivering a sermon.

        So I'd say that if you want to have a rounded , informed opinion, then you need to take channels such as RT onboard and not dismiss them as some 1970's Soviet mouthpiece, which I'm sure they were in the past. They even had a debate criticizing Putin heavily a while back when he was being re-elected.

        • by madprof ( 4723 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @08:58AM (#40451247)

          It's nice to hear that RT even had a debate criticising Putin. The fact that he's been systematically undermining Russian democracy since he came to power probably doesn't doesn't feature too heavily on their coverage though, does it? But good on them for criticising him.

          The BBC gets people on there every single day criticising David Cameron (he's the UK Prime Minister in case you weren't sure). They gave coverage to republicans during the Queen's jubilee celebrations, and she is hardly a Putin-like figure, but she is Head of State.

          I find it a bit funny you've never watched Question Time or any other similar show. Maybe it passed you by in the decades its been running, and you think only RT has debate shows?

          But I am sure that RT news is not 100% fiction or it would never work.

    • I think the thing about the BBC is that while they are state "sponsored" (extorted?), due to clever maneuvering, they have more influence on their government, than vice-versa.

      Not sure if that makes things any better...

    • by dave420 ( 699308 )
      Not in any meaningful way, thanks to the charter.
  • by epyT-R ( 613989 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @05:15AM (#40450145)

    I want to hear about the state of the collective farms with the objectivity only the state can provide..

  • by war4peace ( 1628283 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @05:16AM (#40450147)

    I am sorry, but I don't need instantaneous, round the globe coverage with whatever the hell happens in some God-forsaken corner of the world. it's a perk I'm passively receiving and if I get such news, then that's fine. If not, I'm not gonna curl in a corner, frightened of the unknown.

    There were times when people found that their king died weeks after the dude passed away, and their life was not impacted. Granted, we can do better nowadays but still, I couldn't care less about some fanatic blowing himself up in some Syria busy market. Local news - that's what I'm interested in, followed by news from my country. Everything else (save from something HUGE like the Japan Earthquake) is optional.

    Yes I know, the Syria whatever-the-fuck-happens-there could theoretically very slightly affect me through the butterfly effect but really... not worth my immediate interest. Give me the high level overview: Syria dudes are still beating each other; China launched some satellite; USA still has crushing debt and Greece goes down the drain. Have a nice day!

    • by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @05:33AM (#40450219) Homepage

      I am sorry but, I want to choose what news I want for what ever interests me at the moment even backwater God-forsaken parts of the world like the Southern United States. Sometimes it's interesting and sometimes it's not, the parts that aren't interesting at the time I simply don't read. Internet news it's about being a global news provider, about competing supplying the 'TRUTH' globally.

      Truth is important as the internet really does bite back when you lie, sometimes it takes longer than other times but unlike old world media rules when lies were forgotten, new internet rules means you get caught out for the lies eventually and lose readers as a result, no likes to be lied to except US Republican voters.

      So give me it all, in full detail about the whole globe, and let me choose at the time which parts I find interesting and which I will skip by. Give me good head stories with variety to see if they spark my interest, every country in the world, in full detail and I will choose what I am interested in when. Often picking up on something occurring in another part of the world no matter how obscure or God forsaken like Southern USA, 'BEFORE' it occurs at home is truly beneficial.

      Corporations making record profits, unemployment, never ending pollution incidents, police out of control, political corruption, advertising as news, endless celebrity crap, no matter how repetitious US news has become the clown show is still fascinating 'at times'.

    • by Serious Callers Only ( 1022605 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @05:47AM (#40450287)

      Yes I know, the Syria whatever-the-fuck-happens-there could theoretically very slightly affect me through the butterfly effect but really... not worth my immediate interest. Give me the high level overview: Syria dudes are still beating each other; China launched some satellite; USA still has crushing debt and Greece goes down the drain. Have a nice day!

      When your politicians go war on false premises, or authorise extra funding for Saudi Arabia/Pakistan/Israel/..., I guarantee events in Syra/Iran/Other countries you consider unimportant will have a major impact on the finances of your country, the way your money is spent, and on the course of your life. The news that is presented to you (particularly when it is in digest form as you seem to prefer) dictates how you think about world events, whether you think that Pakistan is a hotbed of islamists which sponsors terror, or a staunch US ally which receives billions a year and bulwark against communism, or both, whether you think that Iraq is a useful ally against Iran and worth supporting (1980s) or an evil dictatorship (1990s). That in turn dictates who you might support or vote for in US elections, and where your taxes will be spent around the world and on your military.

      When the time comes that the US decides to stop managing an empire of satellite states and dependencies abroad, that'll be the time you can stop worrying about anything but local news. I agree that local news is more important, particularly for more trivial items, but international news is incredibly important - if you want to make decisions on international events you should try to be well informed about them - if you don't want to have to bother with that, encourage your government to stop interfering in the rest of the world (a habit not unique to the US, so this applies to citizens of any country really).

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Yeah. When your politicians go to war on false premises. That the western media lied and continue to lie about. Sure, Bush, Cheney, and Powell went down in disgrace. What about Fox, CNN, MSNBC? What about the Grey Lady's complicity? Have any reporters even apologized?

        Instead, the traditional media decided to blame Bush and build up Obama. They refused to vet him; when Hillary tried in the primaries, she even got called racist.

        Everyone knows, and everyone has always known, that the vaunted Western med

      • by jlar ( 584848 )

        "When the time comes that the US decides to stop managing an empire of satellite states and dependencies abroad, that'll be the time you can stop worrying about anything but local news."

        No. That is exactly the moment when you will be forced to worry about World politics. Just like the Pax Romana and the Pax Britannica ended so will the Pax Americana also end when the USA stops protecting client/allied states.

        • by Serious Callers Only ( 1022605 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @09:38AM (#40451695)

          Just like the Pax Romana and the Pax Britannica ended so will the Pax Americana also end when the USA stops protecting client/allied states.

          How can you talk of 'Pax Americana' when America is currently embroiled in two occupations, and several eternal wars (e.g. war against drugs, war against error) - or are these merely police actions where tens of thousands of civilians happened to die? These are/were serious wars, and there is and has been no Pax Americana (at least not in the last few decades). Those not in the military in the states can perhaps kid themselves that this is some kind of peace, but it's not long lasting and not perceived as peace by the rest of the world. If the last decades of invasions, threatened nuclear armageddon and terror are peace, you can keep it.

          Protecting client/allied states (Nato for example) is entirely different from funding terror (via Pakistan ISI, or the Mujahideen for example), funding revolutions (Iran), funding religious states (Israel), setting up secret prisons around the world, invading Iraq, Afghanistan and maybe next Iran. That's just misguided empire building, it's not legitimate defence. Regardless of your opinion of whether these interventions are in the interests of the US, if your government is investing huge amounts of your budget in the military and in military aid, and the lives of your armed forces in foreign intervention, it behooves you to find out exactly what they are doing and why.

      • by vlm ( 69642 )

        The news that is presented to you ... dictates how you think about world events

        That in turn dictates who you might support or vote for in US elections

        Yeah, but that doesn't matter. We only have rule by the 1% here with two different PR campaigns, both sides with identical goals. Since I am a consumer as opposed to a citizen, what I believe has absolutely no impact on what will happen or what the leaders will do. Getting past this realization is really very annoying and offensive because it goes against propaganda fed into our heads since we're kids, but once you get past it, you can safely ignore the noise. They'll do what they want to do to us, and

    • by arcite ( 661011 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @06:30AM (#40450443)
      We live in a globalized world. I live and work in Egypt, colleagues work in Washington, I have family in Canada, friends in a dozen other countries. The world is a small place. I'm not even American, but I'm amazed at the ignorance of most Americans toward their own status in the world. The USA is deeply involved in most conflicts around the world, though I would argue in a positive way. Furthering the cause of freedom and democracy for the downtrodden and oppressed. The moment most Americans stop caring about this fact though, then all hope is lost. So, perhaps instead of deriding the reality that exists outside of your comfy bubble, perhaps you could educate yourself and become wiser.
    • Getting reports on explosions in marketplaces (Side note: It's horrible how blase we are about such things!) isn't the thing we will be missing. It's the hidden stories that take time to get at. A TV station can put a report on a blast together from social media sources and footage bought from local media cheaply. So they always will - it bleeds, it leads.
      But telling you the story on why it is happening, how your government is involved, and how it is going to affect you requires reporters on the ground, who

      • by vlm ( 69642 )

        There are reports that can't be delivered by a part-time blogger.

        Why? They're the folks least likely to be corrupted by "the system", yet have an axe to grind so they put in the effort, and the "free market" of the net filters out the crazies and the cream rises to the top. Think of places like thehousingbubbleblog or edububble or zerohedge.

        How do we find out about this century's Watergates?

        Wikileaks and 80 million clones inspired by them? I don't think we'll be running out of sources anytime soon. Would "the masses" care if Watergate II happened today? My guess is no. Changing cultural values accept higher levels o

    • by Hatta ( 162192 )

      I would love to be interested in local news, but everywhere I go it's offensively bad. Smarmy jackasses telling me who got shot today. What use is that?

      Tell me what the City Council is voting on tomorrow. What businesses have opened or closed in the past week? How is the big sewer project progressing? When will it be done? Is it on budget?

      Instead, we get "if it bleeds, it leads". Followed by fluff like an interview with the spelling bee champion. All delivered by people I wouldn't speak to for 20

  • Comment of note (Score:5, Insightful)

    by el_flynn ( 1279 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @05:27AM (#40450197) Homepage

    From TFA: "This isn’t about who rakes in the advertising dollars – there’s precious few of those these days for anyone – it’s about the global conversation, and who gets to frame it."

    I think that statement gets it spot on. In those few words, you can read a lot between the lines: elements of capitalism, paranoia and perspective.

    It's kind of a wordplay on the oft-cited "history is written by the victor" phrase. Only this time round, TFA makes it like history is written by he who has the most money.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It's kind of a wordplay on the oft-cited "history is written by the victor" phrase. Only this time round, TFA makes it like history is written by he who has the most money.

      Which in this day and age is pretty much synonymous with 'the victor'

      • by DaneM ( 810927 )

        It's kind of a wordplay on the oft-cited "history is written by the victor" phrase. Only this time round, TFA makes it like history is written by he who has the most money.

        Which in this day and age is pretty much synonymous with 'the victor'

        Good call!

  • by dvh.tosomja ( 1235032 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @05:32AM (#40450215)

    I recently found this [wikimedia.org] to be good source of main world information, especially if you read it 2-3 days delayed. Clean short description of what is happening in the world. Without ads.

  • by cyber-vandal ( 148830 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @05:39AM (#40450255) Homepage

    Unlike the impartial and totally honest reporting of the private media?

  • Pay for it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wisebabo ( 638845 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @05:44AM (#40450269) Journal

    Look, obtaining good information isn't always easy (and sometimes can get you killed as the rising numbers of killed journalists will attest to). It is also VERY valuable, if the person playing the devils advocate wants to live WITH the deprived information access of the middle ages, he should be prepared to live IN the middle ages. Haven't you heard of the trite expression "if you think education is expensive, try ignorance?. Well information is like a real-time version of education and is probably even more valuable. (Ok, the devils advocate has a point about not necessarily needing instantaneous access but I still contend good information and Analysis is very worthwhile).

    Unfortunately the world is now being divided into the rich, educated and well informed and the poor, uneducated and ignorant. Sadly, in many countries (like the U.S.) it is a self-reinforcing cycle where the uneducated ignorant don't realize that they're uneducated and ignorant. So they vote for policies that put them even further behind not understanding that the "liberal elites" are abandoning them to their fates and putting their kids in private schools etc. I'm looking at you, you home schooled creationist anti-global warming religious fanatics (not just Fundamentalist Christian but Ultra-Orthodox Jews and don't even get me started on madras attending Muslims).

    Just as I'm a proud taxpayer because I feel it buys civilization (as opposed to Somalia), I immediately signed on to the NYTimes pay service without even bothering with the one month free trial. It buys very good journalism (as opposed to Fox).

    • by windcask ( 1795642 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @07:37AM (#40450727) Homepage Journal

      Just as I'm a proud taxpayer because I feel it buys civilization (as opposed to Somalia), I immediately signed on to the NYTimes pay service without even bothering with the one month free trial. It buys very good journalism (as opposed to Fox).

      A proud taxpayer's capitalist approach to supporting socialist-leaning media? My head hurts now.

      • Somalia, is a country of three (or more) parts, Somalia West (where the capital is), is mostly still run by warlords and is struggling to be a proper country

        Middle Somalia, is largely lawless and where the pirates live

        Northern Somalia (Somaliland) is a stable civilised democratic state unrecognised by most countries...

    • Hear, hear. I also proudly and gladly pay for the New York Times.

      But here's the thing: most people think we're crazy, and with good reason. Most adults today are used to a world in which high-quality free news was as abundant as oxygen. Quite understandably they don't see a reason to pay for it. However, that free news was a non-renewable resource: TV and newspapers were burning through decades of capital they'd acquired by virtue of being local monopolies, in a new global communications environment the

  • by RivenAleem ( 1590553 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @05:56AM (#40450311)

    Sky News have been reporting on this non-stop for weeks, constantly taking any free minute to drive home that the BBC is being subject to this inquiry. I'm so glad that non-government media is so impartial!

  • by qc_dk ( 734452 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @06:03AM (#40450325)

    flagrantly biased coverage by corporate interests.

  • Newsworthiness (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mfwitten ( 1906728 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @06:11AM (#40450367)

    Most "news" is total crap.

    In these days of ours, if something is actually newsworthy, then it ends up being documented and discussed in Internet fora, often in excruciating detail under all kinds of useful insights (diversity of bias is a great thing).

    Newspapers and conventional media are dying because NOBODY NEEDS THEM ANYMORE; this is the nature of the Free Market—society evolves through variation and selection, but of course, people are trying to inhibit this most fundamental process by turning to the steel boot of would-be central planners, in order to pretend otherwise at everyone else's expense; when in doubt, bring out the violent coercion.

    Now, don't be confused. There is no doubt still value in expert analysis—value worth paying for (in the traditional sense). However, most of what we call "news" is not in that category. The death of newspapers is a good thing; oh, certainly, there will be some unpleasantness during the evolutionary transition (especially when central planners prolong the agony), but the result will be a society having adapted a more efficient form.

    • Twitter feeds and live blogs provide a surprising amount of information from citizen journalists that often proves more accurate than reporters.
    • Wrong, wrong, wrong. You totally fail to understand the value of journalism. Yes, for simple obvious facts (there was a car crash on US 495 today), either citizen reporting or a professional journalist will do.

      But that's not what journalism is for. Individual citizens, like governments and corporations, are happy to tell you what they want you to hear, and modern media gives them all a voice. But a journalist's job is to tell the world what they *don't* want you to hear. Governments, corporations, and

  • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @06:54AM (#40450539) Homepage

    Al Jazeera is owned by the government of Qatar, so technically it's "state-owned". However, throughout most of the Middle East, its primary role is as a media outlet not controlled by either the national government or western business interests. And if you actually watch some of its reporting, you'll see that on issues outside of Qatar, its slant is different but certainly no more pronounced than your average western news outlet.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @07:43AM (#40450749)

      On few other websites than Al Jazeera's will one find opinion pieces on the Middle East by an American Jew, a Palestinean expatriate and a former CIA director side by side.

  • by DaneM ( 810927 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @06:56AM (#40450555)

    I, personally, see this trend as a major problem for democratic processes. If we can't really know what's going on, we can't vote sensibly on it. While this is a problem with mainstream media, anyway, the existing problem is a lot less severe than would be an unabashedly (or covertly) state-sponsored news media--and despite what we might think, people will undoubtedly believe such tripe, much as most people "buy into" the less-than-objective news we currently get.

    So, I'm asking the brilliant minds of Slashdot what a better solution might be. I mean this as a serious question, so please no trolls, flames, etc.

    For the sake of completeness/initiating the conversation/clarity:
    Options we have so far (which seem to be increasingly inadequate):
    1) Traditional media. It's dying. I think we can all point to a handful of compelling reasons why it'll continue to die.
    2) Paywalls. Nobody likes them, and they're arguably little better than unabashed state media, since one has to pay for a lot of them in order to sort out what's nonobjective. (If someone knows a fix for this, let's hear it!)
    3) Free (as in beer) news--ad-sponsored. It lacks funding required to do a lot of "real" investigative reporting, and as such, it isn't likely to send a reporter across the world to report on the latest war in which our soldiers are fighting. (Let's put the topic of what wars they should be fighting aside, for the moment.) Also, I'm sick of seeing "lowest common denominator" content--no matter how cute those cats are.
    4) Purely user-contributed news--similar to an "open-source" approach. Also suffers from "lowest common denominator," but can have some amount of filtering, much like /. does. Possibly some "real" reporters will get in on it, but I don't know how they'll make a living. Otherwise, this means that everyone is doing journalism in a mostly (or strictly) amateur capacity, which will (typically) produce low-quality stories and lack journalistic legal protection in those countries that provide such. Also, it's likely to be dangerous for those who don't know what they're doing. This still won't address the issue of how much it costs to report important, non-easy news stories, but the lack of ad-driven funding could provide for a more "serious" tenor to the content (by way of not catering to popular-but-vapid content).
    5) Other?

    One final thought: how can we prevent whatever we end up with from becoming just as bad/useless/corrupt/biased as current and trending options?

    I look forward to reading your thoughts. I don't know how we might go about implementing any wonderful ideas we come up with, so if anyone cares to tackle that "porcupine," I'm all for it. Otherwise, it's a fun mental exercise, and might inspire some reader who actually has a say in such matters.

    • Well I think the first problem is that you assume that "in order to vote on something correctly we need to know what is going on". The problem is that the actual voting process is completely agnostic to whether you actually know anything or not. Even if you were to make a scientific study and analysis of a certain policy up for vote, there will be the hundreds who won't bother studying the question at all. The democratic process has no intrinsic method of filtering competence from incompetence at the voti
      • by DaneM ( 810927 )

        You're right about this, Celerant, but I have to point out that more people will vote sensibly if they have easy access to good information. Yes, most people are pretty feckless about it, and probably always will be (with no easy solution, as you've mentioned), but to my mind, "every little bit helps."

    • by Novogrudok ( 2486718 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @07:19AM (#40450639)

      5) Other: BBC -like,

      that is a public news service, funded by the taxation or a license. Yes, it is not fully free from the government control, but it is still better than commercial services which seem to be levitating to more entertainment (cats) and to less expensive reporting (Syria).

      • by DaneM ( 810927 )

        Good suggestion.

        From what I've gathered, it's similar to PBS and such, but with much more "serious" funding. I am, of course, "antsy" about the nearly-unavoidable government influence on anything the govt. funds, but if it can be somehow overseen in a meaningful way or mostly independent of such funding (perhaps by having its own income sources), this would be less of a problem.

        • It has an overall budget that the government provides, but the government gets no say in how it is spent ...

          It has a controlling BBC Trust who regulate it, but have no say in the day to day running

          It has a public service broadcasting remit so it must produce a certain amount of certain types of programmes, and it must get approval for new ventures from the Trust, but otherwise it is run as a non-profit company ...

          Like PBS with money, a remit to produce good worthy programs, and government oversight at arms

          • by DaneM ( 810927 )

            Thanks for the information, JasterBobaMereel. This does sound quite good.

    • by vlm ( 69642 )

      Our local political parties pay people to sloganeer in the comments of the local online newspaper. This sloganeering ruins the experience for everyone else. Since they apparently have stacks of cash to pay college students to astroturf, they should share the love and charge astroturfers a fair and reasonable advertising rate. So end anonymity, force commenters to post while linked to a facebook profile, and start charging on a sliding scale. Other than the charging, thats Exactly what my local dying new

      • I don't have a facebook profile, just a locked down empty page to stop minor identity theft. And I am worried that in some parts of the world, including parts of the USA, ending anonymity would put legitimate posters about abuses at some risk. Whistleblowing on local crime and corruption is an important function of newspapers. But otherwise I think this is a sound idea. One option might be to block all posts which contain entries from a variety of keywords with a message saying "You appear to be advertisin
  • a cheap roundup of cat pictures, is quite possibly going to pull in way more views for less money than a nuanced, deeply reported, and expensive dispatch from Syria.

    ... I prefer Fuzzies to Muzzies

  • by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @08:18AM (#40450949) Journal

    If you think Fox News or the BBC or NPR don't already have a strong editorial bias, you're fooling yourself. Even if politically neutral (which none of them are), they all have a market-bias (commercial or otherwise). Fox of course is trying to embarrass its compeition, NPR is deliberately slamming Fox during its begging, er, 'pledge' drives.

    At least with government-controlled media, the bias will be overt and inarguable.

  • by k(wi)r(kipedia) ( 2648849 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @08:20AM (#40450969)

    Maybe in the future, you'll have ordinary citizens posting their short (tweet-like) reports, photos or videos of a breaking or continuing event to a refereed news site.

    It will be the job of designated editors to filter the truth from the trolls and propagandists. The editors will be helped by simple algorithms. Posters who have already proved reliable both in terms of information and timeliness will receive the equivalent of a karma bonus, making them a more attractive "source" for the editors.

    This Is different from Wikinews [wikinews.org], which doesn't differentiate between reporters and editors. Everybody can report and edit.

  • I think that we will end up with individual reporters posting to the web, supported by subscription. If you have access to a copy of Marc Stiegler's Earthweb, read it, paying particular attention to the part where the reporter interviews "The Predictor".

  • This article is red meat for right wing and libertarian nutjobs.

  • by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @09:09AM (#40451371)

    What could possibly go wrong. /s

    I think state media is fine if it exists in competition with private media. But the supposed separation between the journalists and the people writing checks is at best a wire mesh door. It might stop overt manipulation but you're not going to get a state media that is highly critical of it's primary backers in government.

    You might get the state media to attack one party in political systems that have more then one party. But they'll be consistently loyal to a given political faction. That is their camp in the government and separated from that alliance they wouldn't be able to attack either party.

    It's amusing hearing countries like China, Russia, or Saudi Arabia being cited as examples of successful state media. These are all countries with spotty histories of tolerating political decent in media. In all three countries journalists have been jailed or killed at intervals for rocking the boat.

    So sure, state media is working in those countries but in large part that's because it isn't totally safe to be a journalist in those countries. Russia has gotten a lot better and china is getting better. But there are always lingering allegations of secret police shutting up journalists. Not long ago an outspoken critic of Putin was killed in a mugging. And the notion that it was actually an assassination of a political critic was a popular conspiracy theory. No one besides the muggers really knows what happened. And both China and Saudi Arabia still openly jail journalists that piss off the wrong people in government.

    I have no problem with state media. But if it's your primary source for news then you're ultimately having your impression of the world formed by at least one powerful faction in the government if not the ruling faction. Private media is also biased. But it tends to be the bias of the owners which can be a much smaller faction in the society. Further, where private media exists there tends to be a lot of it. And while one source can be biased most of the bias is canceled out if you consume a lot of different media.

  • NPR has world wide coverage of serious news, and is less biased than most news outlets
    • Re:NPR (Score:5, Interesting)

      by alexander_686 ( 957440 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @10:34AM (#40452217)

      NPR is biased.

      Now, mind you, I like and listen to NPR. I also think they are factual, and I think that is important. There are some “news” channels that live on manufactured hype and will not let facts get in the way of a good story.

      However, NPR does cater to the people who pay the bills – Members like you – white, urban, college educated, professional, liberals. I remember hearing a story last year about a electric company trying to build more coal fired gas plants. NPR focused on the environmental impacts. The Wall Street Journal focused on the economic impacts. Both stories where true but both outlets had used their editorial control to focus on different aspects of the same story.

      You can’t be unbiased. What you can do is state what your bias is and report the facts.

  • by gestalt_n_pepper ( 991155 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @10:51AM (#40452379)

    are the best news outlets out there simply because they report on real newsworthy events like politics, the economy, world conflicts, and so on. NPR has become a series of puff pieces on sports and entertainment with perhaps one or two very *badly* researched news stories. CNN too focuses on entertainment. Fox is a propaganda noise machine. The networks are bland pablum, safe for 6- and 86-year olds, while the rest of the USA's media are at the level of Entertainment Tonight, The National Enquirer, AM talk radio and NewsMax.

    If you want real news now, you go international. You go to blogs. You go to the remaining local papers across the world. Any privately owned major media outlet now is just a corporate propaganda and distraction device.

  • by andersh ( 229403 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @11:42AM (#40453089)

    Newspapers are not dying everywhere in the world, you know? I know it's happening a lot in the US, but we Europeans seem to keep buying and reading them :)

    I can't speak for everyone, but I know my [country's] newspapers are doing very well thanks to both print and the web/apps. Lots of new revenue options including non-news services.

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger