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[P]
Accurate News, Or Lack Thereof

By jeffy124 in Op-Ed
Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 09:17:27 PM EST
Tags: News (all tags)
News

In today's world of news agencies going for tit-for-tat over who gets bragging rights over who first reported a story, accuracy in that reporting is often an afterthought. As I start to write this, the time is about 17:25 GMT. A short time ago (probably 20-30 minutes), I loaded up the CNN.com homepage. I noticed a banner across the top indicating "Breaking News: 78 Feared Dead in Kenyan Plane Crash, Details to Come."

So I went back to CNN, expecting more information, and noticed the banner has changed: "Kenyan police deny air crash, say alert caused by security drill, Reuters reports. Full story to come."


I've noticed these "Breaking News" and "News Alert" banners that CNN uses for some time. Frankly, they're not so "Breaking" or "Alert"-worthy. Mundane headlines often clutter up the top of the page, only to be moved into the "Other top news" section on the right hand side about seven inches from the top. Alert headlines such as "Athlete so-and-so announces retirement. Press Conference at 3pm. Details to come." appearing at 9am just arent Breaking News, and often so-and-so's retirement is expected given their age.

On the other hand, headlines such as the one I saw a short time ago are Breaking News, but geez! Do you think CNN ever thought to confirm the facts before sending some people into an uproar and panic? I was not panicking, but anyone who had family/friends flying through Kenya today certainly had a chill sent down their spines. It's possible some thought another terrorist attack via airplane was underway, and the first plane was intentionally downed by those onboard.

Is it really necessary to panic the public in this manner? Here in the United States, there have been what appears to be a rash of child kidnappings going on. Statistics from the Justice Dept indicate that the numbers are not out of the ordinary. Yet the press is now making a media circus out of every little missing child. Some media attention in this respect is actually good, local TV/radio reports and "Amber Alerts" often generate leads to the missing. Yet the press and their analysis of everything is putting unnecessary fears into parents, often resulting in a less-than ideal childhood for children having to be locked up in the house all day, and they're still not safe. Remember, DoJ numbers indicate nothing unusual. An article in Time Magazine examines this situation.

There are a lot more examples of this hype and first reporting before accuracy, including topics related to terrorism, medicine and health, public safety, etc. But I dont like long articles, and am not about to make this be long too.

The press must straighten itself out. Or people will walk in fear of every step they take, asking themselves as people walk past, "Is he a terrorist?" "Is she an abductor?" "Will I get mugged tonight?" "Will sharks come on land and eat me too?"

It is now, as I finish this, about 17:55 GMT. Reloading CNN.com's front page reveals no word or hint or anything whatsoever that Kenya held an airline crash drill today.

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Poll
How often does the media blow it out of proportion?
o 100% of the time 35%
o 80% 42%
o 60% 14%
o 40% 2%
o 20% 1%
o Never! They get it exactly right all the time! 3%

Votes: 124
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o CNN.com homepage
o examines this situation
o Also by jeffy124


Display: Sort:
Accurate News, Or Lack Thereof | 92 comments (69 topical, 23 editorial, 2 hidden)
I HATE those things (4.00 / 9) (#1)
by Jman1 on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 02:03:35 PM EST

They always used to get me. I'd be flipping through the channels, see this blaring headline saying "REALLY IMPORTANT BREAKING NEWS" or something, catch my breath, thinking, "Oh no, maybe it's another terrorist attack," or, "Are we at war with Iraq?" but instead it's day 583 of the Rich Murderer Blake saga.

A thought in regard to kidnappings (4.21 / 14) (#5)
by pyramid termite on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 02:08:50 PM EST

Sometimes the best way to keep a people docile and loyal to the government is not to make them fear the government, but to make them fear each other so they will run to the government to protection.

"I forget, in a certain way, everything I write, doubtless also, in another way, what I read." - Jacques Derrida
Machiavelli would be proud. (4.00 / 1) (#21)
by krek on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 03:29:32 PM EST

The Prince

[ Parent ]
If I could give a 6 (none / 0) (#67)
by CodeWright on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 11:36:25 AM EST

For that comment, I would. However, a quote from Derrida almost guarantees a -1, so I guess a 5 is sufficient. :)

--
"Humanity's combination of reckless stupidity and disrespect for the mistakes of others is, I think, what makes us great." --Parent ]
Criticism of the Press (4.53 / 13) (#11)
by wiredog on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 02:39:36 PM EST

Howard Kurtz' Media Notes column in the Washington Post covered Child Snatching and Media Hype a couple of weeks ago. Well, it covers Media Hype every week.

The NPR show On the Media also delves into failings of the press.

Several newspapers have an ombudsman.

Can't sleep. The clowns will get me.

Yes, the "news" sucks (4.53 / 15) (#20)
by mingofmongo on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 03:25:43 PM EST

A few years ago, when 'hate crimes' were the big thing, there was a rash of burnings of black churches in the US. A little research turned up the fact that being a black church didn't raise the odds of getting burned one bit. It seems that people like to burn churches, and ususally the arsonists are members of the toasted church.

Every few years there are news reports of postal workers killing their co-workers. But postal workers have never been more likely to do this than any other dead-end-job worker.

There was a heat wave in Chicago a while ago, and several old people died. On quizzing their relatives, it seems they refused to open thier windows out of fear of thieves. Many of these people had nothing to steal. They believed what they heard on the news.

The business of news media is pretty much selling fear to old people. Watch the TV news sometime and note the commercials. It may be different elsewhere, but in the US, the commercials are for laxitives, cheap health insurance, vitamin supliments, etc. The journalistic quality of the news media has risen to the level of the Herst papers during the Spanish American war.

"What they don't seem to get is that the key to living the good life is to avoid that brass ring like the fucking plague."
--The Onion

I think it's reasonable... (3.66 / 9) (#22)
by dipierro on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 04:07:19 PM EST

Which would you prefer, censorship of news just because it can't be confirmed as 100% accurate, or quick reports of the news as it happens.  Personally, for an internet report, I prefer completeness to correctness.  I use the internet to find out what *hasn't* happened more than to find out what *has* happened.

Yes, it is CNN, so it shouldn't be presenting as facts things which aren't true, but "Breaking News: 78 Feared Dead in Kenyan Plane Crash, Details to Come" is necessarily preliminary, and technically could be parsed as an accurate statement.
-
In capitalism, man exploits man. In socialism, it's the other way around.

Being honest with sources (none / 0) (#53)
by Atomic Eco on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 02:41:18 AM EST

I would like more information concerning the source of news items. I think most people who follow preliminary, breaking stories appreciate being told where the information came from. It's just that honesty can be embarassing - "we scour the net for news, and we saw this on some foreign news site.."

Finland.. where polar bears roam the streets.
[ Parent ]
a guess... (none / 0) (#63)
by jeffy124 on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 10:11:04 AM EST

My guess of the source to the "plane crash": A CNN or Reuters affiliate in Kenya listening in on police radio (or similar source) hears plane crash calls comming across, simply not realizing that it was a drill.
--
You're the straw that broke the camel's back!
[ Parent ]
That's nothin'. . . (3.81 / 11) (#23)
by IHCOYC on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 04:31:39 PM EST

. . . but have you heard about the Martians that have landed near Grover's Mill, New Jersey?

Heus, nunc, mihi cantate hanc æruginem.

explanation.. (5.00 / 2) (#73)
by jeffy124 on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 12:54:29 PM EST

it appears (based on the ratings) that some people arent getting the joke.

Back in like the 1930's, maybe 40's, a nationwide US radio show was doing a production of Welle's War Of The Worlds.  Sound effects, actors reading scripts, etc.  The production was meant to simulate a news broadcast.  It was in the evening, so it was dark out (at least on the east coast).

Well, those who missed the beginning of the broadcast missed the fact that it was completely fictional.  As a result, mass panic took place.  People thought Martians had actually landed.  The kicker - A farmer in Grover's Mill pulled out his shotgun and fired at what looked like a landed "UFO" -- the town's water reserve tower.
--
You're the straw that broke the camel's back!
[ Parent ]

Both extremes (4.66 / 6) (#27)
by El Volio on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 06:07:02 PM EST

<rant>

The media doesn't always blow things out of proportion; sometimes, they go to the other extreme and underreport. I don't have any data to support this, but I believe this is even more so here in the US -- international news takes a seat all the way in the back of the bus, while national news may be given more priority if it's scandalous enough. But the average American has been taught not to care about the news in the rest of the world. Nothing to see beyond these shores...

Personally, I believe that if something similar to the events of September 11th had happened elsewhere in the world (Germany, say), while it would be considered a tragedy, it wouldn't be regarded as a world-changing event like the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. And lesser events (thousands dying in an earthquake in Turkey, or rebellion in Mexico) barely register in the news, if indeed they do at all. And Americans wonder why we're viewed as myopic...

</rant>

I'm not so sure (2.33 / 3) (#32)
by NightRain on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 07:06:57 PM EST

The tragedies you list as barely registering though are 'natural' in origin, which makes all of the difference. It's part of living in this world. Even wars and rebellions fall in to this category, being part of the natural state of human life.

What makes September 11 different is that it was a terrorist attack on an icon of the world, aimed at Civilians, in which thousands died. I'm sure that a similar terrorist attack that kills thousands of people would make the world news as slightly more than a splash.

Ray

Don't vote, it only encourages them!


[ Parent ]
"natural"? (5.00 / 1) (#46)
by wiml on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 12:02:29 AM EST

An earthquake is natural, sure, but a rebellion? (Or is it only natural because it's in Mexico?) A rebellion is exactly as natural as a terrorist attack.

[ Parent ]
Let me refine (none / 0) (#51)
by NightRain on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 01:52:02 AM EST

I call it 'natural' as in it's similar to a war. It is one laege group of people targetting another group of people, and restricting most of their targets to military personel or at least people involved directly in the conflict.

There are always exceptions of course, but they generally don't involved the death of 300 civilians in one hit. And if they do, they tend to make a splash.

Ray

Don't vote, it only encourages them!


[ Parent ]
*sigh* (none / 0) (#52)
by NightRain on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 01:55:20 AM EST

More corrections

300 should read 3000.
laege should read large

I've just had a cat scan and been shot full of weird drugs. I blame that :)

Ray

Don't vote, it only encourages them!


[ Parent ]
The problem is? (4.00 / 1) (#77)
by wnight on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 03:30:39 PM EST

I really don't see the problem with this. The "importance" of news is based on three things.

First, the severity of the actual event. Three people dying is less important than thirty. Context can change this.

Second, the suprise. A terrorist attack in Israel is just as important to the survivors, but it happens all the time. The first one was a change in the way wars were fought, the 8000th is just a footnote.

Third, the distance from the event to me, or someone I'm close to. Events in a country on the other side of the world aren't as important as event in my hometown, or the hometown of someone I know.

Multiply those and you have each person's view of the importance of a news item. Severity * Suprise / Distance.

I'm not suprised that people in Israel weren't as shocked over the 9/11 events. They're a long way away and this isn't as new to them. But they're closer than distance would suggest because NY has a large jewish population and thus there are many family ties. Also, this influences the US's view of the events they've been suffering, perhaps getting them more support. So, they were concerned, but not as much so as a non-jew in NY for whom this was much closer and much more suprising.

I wouldn't expect Brazilians to concern themselves with the terrible storms in Quebec a few years back, different part of the world, no local (to them) effects, and only somewhat suprising.

This sort of ranking of the news seems normal, natural, and proper. If my mom died in a car accident I'd be devistated, if my friend's mom died, I'd be shocked. If your mom died, I'd feel empathy, if the mother of someone I'd never met died, I probably wouldn't know. If I felt all of these as deeply as my own loss I'd never be able to function.


[ Parent ]

yes, they do (4.50 / 4) (#29)
by ceejayoz on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 06:19:52 PM EST

The media needs viewers, and wins them over by sensationalism.  Just look at Jerry Springer, FOX News, etc for good examples.

That said, I think your complaint about the Kenya crash reporting isn't valid.  I think that's a case of the media not blowing it out of proportion.  I'd rather know about the news as it happens and have some corrections than to not see the news until it's finalized - 'cause when does a news item stop changing?  There's new info about Sept 11 still coming out today.  How is CNN supposed to know when they can report something as fact?

Heh (4.00 / 4) (#33)
by imrdkl on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 07:07:09 PM EST

>How is CNN supposed to know when they can report something as fact?

When they are told so.

[ Parent ]

Seen it before (4.25 / 4) (#30)
by imrdkl on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 06:39:53 PM EST

Awhile back I noticed another type of anomaly at CNN, although I've been startled by the hastiness (and subsequent errors) at other outlets, as well. Kudos to Reuters in all this, although if you watch their feed, you'll see that web-reporting is a revisionist process even at respectable outlets.

a change in my opinion, maybe global opinion (4.53 / 13) (#31)
by speek on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 06:57:57 PM EST

My opinion of how to judge the accuracy or trustworthiness of a news source and an individual story has been changed in the past 5 years by my exposure to slashdot and K5. Previously, I might have gone along with the traditional view that the best way to judge the veracity of the story is to know the source and trust it. Ie, CBS news was to be believed, my next door neighbor not. Or something along those lines anyway.

Nowadays, the value of a story is determined by the quality of the debate that freely takes place around it. I can read a story on K5 and have no idea what to make of it. But, if the discussion is good, I generally come away with a much better idea of the value of the original story. This is only possible because threaded, free conversation is allowed to take place right alongside the story.

Since this change, a one-way news site, like the Times or CNN has zero value to me. Without the ability to "cross-examine" the writer and the cross-examiners, I can conclude nothing from a bare story.

I hope the world is slowly changing to agree with me. Unfortunately, I have been completely unable to even begin to convince my parents and other people I know IRL.

--
what would be cool, is if there was like a bat signal for tombuck -

News sources? (none / 0) (#68)
by upsilon on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 11:55:25 AM EST

Well, what you say certainly has merit. However, if K5-like sites are the sole source of things, then I still find myself without a source for "regular" news. For example, the German/Czech floods haven't been mentioned here that I've seen, nor would I expect them to be. That sort of thing is really outside of K5's purview.

So, are there any slashcode/scoop-based news sites that cover "ordinary" news and have dialogue around it? Undoubtedly there are; if so, what are the good ones? Inquiring minds want to know...


--
Once, I was the King of Spain.
[ Parent ]
actually, they were (4.00 / 1) (#74)
by speek on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 01:55:30 PM EST

Some Austrian guy wrote up about the floods through Austria and the Danube.

But, your point is well taken. Not everything that gets reported in mainstream news gets a mention here.

And thank god for that!

--
what would be cool, is if there was like a bat signal for tombuck - [ Parent ]

Ditto (3.00 / 1) (#78)
by wnight on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 03:39:49 PM EST

I don't even read news sources where you can't comment on the news and contact the author.

San Jose Mercury News (?) ran a few stories and I commented to the authors on them about a perceived bias in one, a slight inaccuracy in another, and something else I can't remember.

Every author responded. One said "You don't like my bias? The paper pays $.x per word, write you own.", the author with a mistake corrected his article, and the other one responded to my comment as well.

Try doing that on CNN, or other large news sources. Many don't even have contact addresses for the individuals, just a huge "contact us" address.

I also don't give much creedance to news I can't discuss with others, as you say. Some news sites have their silly unthreaded, one post per page view, sites that are useless. Some are using that mainstream BBS software, whatever it is the Straight Dope runs, which is better but not great. Eventually one will hopefully pick up Scoop or at least Slash and run a real site. No censorship, some author participation, etc.

Too often stories don't give context which makes the story worthless, context you'd get on a site like this. What is it worth to know that an Israeli border guard shot a civilian, without knowing that civilians strap bombs to themselves there, and what's the use of knowing that without knowing they're living in occupied territory, and what's the value of that without the whole story behind it?


[ Parent ]

Media accuracy (4.77 / 9) (#34)
by wji on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 07:09:05 PM EST

This reminded me of a thought I had a while ago. Because of the left-wing types surrounding indymedia, it's become virtually unquestionable that they're worthless as a news source and not to be trusted.

But remember the Venezuela coup? The trustworthy, verified mainstream media reported that evil Chavezistas had opened fire on a crowd of opposition demonstrators. Indymedia just printed what it got from the people on the ground. The best account said that it was snipers who had fired on the pro-Chavez counterdemonstrators. This later turned out to be true.

In fact, the whole reporting on Venezuela was disgusting. I remember hearing the "plugged in" types who watch CNN constantly with MSNBC in a picture-in-picture comparing Chavez to Saddam Hussein and calling him a terrorist. But reading ZNet and yes, Indymedia showed the real story of a democratically elected leader pushing through reforms for the lower class that have made the urban middle class uneasy.

One example shouldn't convince anyone, but in my experience the "left-wing, ideological, biased" media is better for understanding the truth than the "neutral" corporate media. You should always read skeptically, of course, but don't discard the leftie nuts because they have political beliefs CNN will tell you are nuts.

In conclusion, the Powerpuff Girls are a reactionary, pseudo-feminist enterprise.

Broken clock ... (3.50 / 2) (#44)
by sonovel on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 10:20:23 PM EST

So how did you find out that Indymedia was correct in their reporting of this one event?

[ Parent ]
Odd argument (3.00 / 1) (#47)
by wji on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 12:06:50 AM EST

I guess the idea is I say "the mainstream media" and you go "aha! you see!". But the logic there is a bit lacking. It's like saying Indymedia's accurate because they flip-flop after reporting an inaccurate story.

I suspect I'd have to look through the back pages of newspapers to find out that IM's reporting was correct, while the accusation against Chavez was a top news story even on my myopic local TV station, complete with ominous pictures of shooting. But in any case, I got the information through other whacko leftie sources, John Pilger, and ZNet reprints of leftie British papers.

You can actually get a good picture of the world if you very carefully read through newspapers like the NYT and Wall Street Journal, though often information is only suggested and is not timely enough to do anything about. That's not always true, though, generally real important stuff like the MAI or Israel's pre-emptive strike against peace a few weeks ago gets totally censored.

In conclusion, the Powerpuff Girls are a reactionary, pseudo-feminist enterprise.
[ Parent ]

It's not an argument. (3.00 / 1) (#48)
by sonovel on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 12:35:17 AM EST

I think Indymedia is almost useless.

Their biases are pretty far out there.

On rare occasions, they have a first hand report that turns out to be more correct than the mainstream news.

Still, how can they be trusted after the 999th report of things like the "massacre" at Jenin?

So it was an honest question. How did you find out that IM was correct in this instance? Did you just assume they are correct?


[ Parent ]

Slight correction. (4.00 / 1) (#49)
by sonovel on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 12:41:40 AM EST

I should say that I believe IM to be almost useless as a news source.

Some of their on site stuff is interesting, if not always really news.

For example, at a recent "peace rally" for the Palestinians, many sincere peace activists were disgusted by the anti-semitism of some of the groups protesting with them. I found that interesting and encouraging, though not really news.

[ Parent ]

Be careful (3.00 / 1) (#91)
by wji on Sat Aug 24, 2002 at 02:15:04 AM EST

"Indymedia" doesn't have biases. Its structure simply prevents that. IM is just a clearinghouse for whatever people want to put up. There are Israeli settlers who post to Indymedia. Hell, half the whacky Jenin stories were probably trolls by them (apparently it's a real problem).

The whole idea of Indymedia is that there is no editorial control* and the reader must beware. What you read on Indymedia is no more "Indymedia's version" than what you see on MSNBC is "your television's version". It's just a conduit for other content.

It's a different way of doing things, but I quite like the opportunity to sift through unedited stuff. I've read about things, even things happening within walking distance, that I never ever would have heard of from local sources. Even the alternative magazine around here just doesn't have the resources to do that kind of coverage.

In conclusion, the Powerpuff Girls are a reactionary, pseudo-feminist enterprise.
[ Parent ]

You believe this? (none / 0) (#92)
by sonovel on Mon Aug 26, 2002 at 01:37:14 PM EST

You really believe IM has no biases?

95+% of it is leftish, anti-american, anti-israel.

Just because it is open doesn't mean it doesn't have biases. You aren't going to see much right wing posting there, as it isn't really a place for them.

Saying IM is unbiased because it is open is like saying the U.S. doesn't have political biases because it more strongly supports free speech rights than almost any other nation!

Such a statement (about IM or the U.S.) is absurd given just a little thought.

[ Parent ]

Wolf!? (4.00 / 5) (#35)
by seanic on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 07:17:15 PM EST

The media outlets have to jump at every scrap to maintain the illusion they are investigative and active.  The tactic is to throw up enough headlines to keep your attention away from the ties to corporate and political entities which pull their strings.
--
"The majority of the stupid is invincible and guaranteed for all time. The terror of their tyranny is, however, alleviated by their lack of consistency" -- Albert Einstein
What about the Al-Qaeda exclusive stuff? (4.42 / 7) (#37)
by R343L on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 08:31:25 PM EST

I'm finding the recent "excluxive video of Al-Qaeda's dastardly ability to do horrible destructive thing X" stories more annoying. For one, you can't see the videos online (you may be able to see them if you tune into CNN on cable--I wouldn't know, I don't have cable).

For another, the article headlines just seem needlessly inflammatory. And they seem to be peppered with quotes from really dumb experts. For example, one expert was quoted, saying, "It is more advanced than training" and "It is almost like doing the operation so that when they go to the real operational theater, they will be a hundred percent confident." WTF?! The second part isn't so dumb, but "more advanced than training"? What the hell does that mean?

In the same article as that dumb expert there was the "soon to come block" on the right detailing what "exclusive" stories CNN would be reporting on in days to come. Apparently on Thursday they are going to cover explosives: "Buried in a movie video, a detailed primer on how to manufacture TNT from scratch."  Oooh...al-qaeda teaches their agents how to build TNT. Woopeedee-doo! You can learn how to make TNT in chemistry class or online or in the library. Hell, there are probably thousands of people in the US alone who know how to make TNT off the top of their head (explosives experts and those who need to blow things up). What kind of dumb scare-mongering is that? And what the hell is a "movie video"?

As for the premium content crap, when I click on a premium content video link I just get a little empty window (using Mozilla). Real helpful if I was willing to subscribe or something.

Rachael
"Like cheese spread over too much cantelope, the people I spoke with liked their shoes." Ctrl-Alt-Del

"If it bleeds it leads!" (3.00 / 2) (#38)
by sonovel on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 08:49:52 PM EST

I find that series pretty annoying too.

What the hell is CNN trying to be, an English Tabloid or a U.S. local TV news show?

I think it isn't innapropriate to show, just the prominance they give it is far more than its "real news" value.

[ Parent ]

Regarding Prominence (4.00 / 1) (#40)
by R343L on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 09:09:08 PM EST

I wouldn't be as bothered by the amount of attention they give to these stories if they weren't exclusive. When 9/11 happened I didn't complain that the news orgs were giving the story too much attention because it was important enough that everyone was covering it (usually with the same footage -- i.e. they shared). In other words, if something is so flipping important that it deserves this kind of coverage, most if not all news orgs should be carrying it with materially the same coverage (maybe they have different experts, etc.) This kind of "really important, exclusive story that impacts your world view" bullshit appears to my eye to be just an attention grabber by CNN. If anything, it makes me doubt the videos' authenticities.

Rachael
"Like cheese spread over too much cantelope, the people I spoke with liked their shoes." Ctrl-Alt-Del
[ Parent ]

It is/isn't important. (none / 0) (#41)
by sonovel on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 09:23:51 PM EST

The prominance and exclusivity don't make me doubt that CNN at least thinks they are real. If they had doubts, I think they wouldn't hype them.

I thought some of this stuff was also shown by other networks? Perhaps just delayed?

I'm a bit split on this stuff. I think it is important to make available, and is somewhat newsworthy. For example, the dog gassing thing is nothing new, except it is independant verification that AQ has been messing with poison gas. When the government says that AQ was working on this stuff, it is news, but one must consider the source. When independant verification is found, the evidence should be made available.

However, CNN seems to be showing it as "violence porn" rather than as news.

So I consider this important enough to show, but it isn't critical timely information that should be shared in source form to other news organizations.

I do think the tapes (well, 1st gen copies at least) should be made available for many groups that want to try to verify there authenticity.

So I guess I have to agree and disagree on this.

[ Parent ]

Other networks (none / 0) (#54)
by R343L on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 07:48:59 AM EST

Hmmm...I don't know..my husband generally watches NBC evening news everynight and when I mentioned these stories, he didn't even know what I was talking about (he doesn't read CNN's webpage). So perhaps it's only some of the networks.

"violence porn" is a good term, mind if I use it? :)

Rachael
"Like cheese spread over too much cantelope, the people I spoke with liked their shoes." Ctrl-Alt-Del
[ Parent ]

Such tapes are widely available in the US (none / 0) (#50)
by gmol on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 12:53:24 AM EST

I remember seeing ads for those kinds of things in Kung-fu magazines/popular mechanics/"How to Make Stuff Explode" type books etc.

Why is it front page news?

[ Parent ]

It's an American Delusion (none / 0) (#56)
by R343L on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 07:54:42 AM EST

Most Americans seem to be under the delusion that only two types of people know how to make bombs and other dangerous things: (1) a very small number of professional types, and (2) evil terrorists and criminals. Unfortunately, my husband (a biologist) learned how to make TNT and nitroglycerin in organic chemistry -- a description of the molecules of major  (nitrogen based) explosives and how the different componenets is in his textbook! But most Americans don't seem to realize such knowledge is widespread and thus, it is news...or at least news with which CNN can grab attention.

Rachael
"Like cheese spread over too much cantelope, the people I spoke with liked their shoes." Ctrl-Alt-Del
[ Parent ]

Probably because... (none / 0) (#60)
by minusp on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 09:56:55 AM EST

... most Americans haven't taken organic chemistry. I'll date myself, but Morrison and Boyd also had (I doubt still has), in addition to explosives, recipes for lysergic acid diethylamide, as well as a range of amphetamines and barbiturates. All things we can't be trusted to know about these days.
Remember, regime change begins at home.
[ Parent ]
Hmm trust. (none / 0) (#80)
by R343L on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 07:55:26 PM EST

Is interesting how a lot of stuff now comes down to it not being "safe" to let people know/have something, even when they are normal, fairly adjusted people.

Rachael
"Like cheese spread over too much cantelope, the people I spoke with liked their shoes." Ctrl-Alt-Del
[ Parent ]

excellent points... (none / 0) (#62)
by jeffy124 on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 10:07:38 AM EST

yeah, most (all?) of those videos are nothing but scare-mongerings, and are really just visual confirmation of what has been dug up in the past (ie, weapons manuals, notebooks with TNT instructions, etc).  One clip mentions how the rehearsal kidnappings/assasinations follow notebook guides nearly exactly.

here's what i did to watch those clips - Create a 14-day trial, and I have to use Internet Explorer, as mozilla just chokes when I click those links.  Netscape may work, given that CNN is part owned by AOL.
--
You're the straw that broke the camel's back!
[ Parent ]

...and that dumb netscape nav bar on top [nt] (none / 0) (#81)
by R343L on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 07:58:19 PM EST


"Like cheese spread over too much cantelope, the people I spoke with liked their shoes." Ctrl-Alt-Del
[ Parent ]
The Beeb (4.00 / 5) (#42)
by photog02 on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 10:14:38 PM EST

For truthful and honest news, I have abandoned American media sources. NPR is the closest thing we have to unbiased news, and they have a decidedly liberal slant. For the other side of the fence, we have Fox News. The BBC World Service does a fairly good job covering American news, and an excellent job covering world news. If it wasn't for them, I would have no regular news source.

The Beeb. (4.00 / 1) (#43)
by sonovel on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 10:19:10 PM EST

Didn't they just get a whole bunch of money from the EU?

Do you think that could make them less likely to run anti-EU and anti-Euro stories.

The BBC is just as biased as any other run of the mill news source.

The idea of an unbiased news source is a myth. The best we can hope for is for these sources to be up front about their biases, rather than hiding them.

In general, UK papers don't try to hide their biases. US papers generally do, with some notable exceptions (eg. WSJ doesn't hide their right wing bias).

[ Parent ]

BBC World (none / 0) (#45)
by smallstepforman on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 10:40:27 PM EST

As long as Great Britian isn't involved, BBC World is quite good and not as biased as other sources.  The moment GB are involved (Iraq, Balkans etc) youi can tell immediately that a government advisor is censoring/selecting the footage.  How do they think they're fooling?

[ Parent ]
We're not part of the Homeland Defense Dept. yet! (4.00 / 1) (#55)
by richr on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 07:52:17 AM EST

As far as I can tell (I've worked with bbc producers/researchers on a number of occasions) there is no such thing. Let's face it, the labour party has actually been accused of trying to hack into the BBC's news systems! It is important to note, (for non UKians) that the BBC is not funded directly by the government, rather that the government is obliged to hand over the licence fee without quibble. As to impartiality...
(from the BBC)
The BBC must...
(c) treat controversial subjects with due accuracy and impartiality, both in the Corporation's news services and in the more general field of programmes dealing with matters of public policy or of political or industrial controversy, and do not contain any material expressing the opinion of the Corporation on current affairs or matters of public policy other than broadcasting and matter contained in programmes which consist of proceedings in either House of Parliament or proceedings of a local authority or a committee of two or more local authorities;

[ Parent ]
Pressure placed on BBC, bias (4.00 / 1) (#64)
by sonovel on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 11:24:29 AM EST

I think you misunderstood the hacking thing.

The accusation was that the government must have been hacking as they knew about stories before they were released. The government used that knowledge to pressure the BBC to change stories even before they were published/broadcast! Or at least, that is what the BBC claimed.

That seems to me to say that the UKian government doesn't really support an independent, unbiased BBC.

Oh, and I'm afraid that the BBC's charter is just words. Those words don't make them impartial or unbiased.

Bias is also a tricky thing. I would rate the BBC as biased towards the EU and biased towards the Euro. In particular I believe that the BBC is far less skeptical of the Euro than the average Brit. Is this bias? I would say yes. However, someone less Euroskeptical would  probably claim "No", the BBC is correct in its less than skeptical reporting.

If the BBC portrays any opinions or has any slant on the news, it is biased. That isn't all a bad thing. The BBC is obviously biased towards England, the U.K., towards EU, towards Western Culture, etc.

I think that to claim to be unbiased is somewhat dishonest. Every human being is biased and every human organization is biased. Being upfront about biases is better than claiming to be unbiased.

Of course, the BBC is (IMO) much less biased than most British newspapers. British papers tend to be gloriously biased, but everyone knows it so they can use their understanding of the bias to help analyze the reporting.


[ Parent ]

Government vs. advertisers influence (4.00 / 1) (#57)
by lordpixel on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 09:08:15 AM EST

One thing about the BBC - as they're publically funded and don't carry advertising in the UK, they're not accustomed to listening to corporate sponsor's opinions of what they should and shouldn't say.

I'm well aware the UK government gets involved in telling them what to say or not say (but to what extent, I wouldn't hazard a guess). I'm also fairly sure they care much much less about embarassing some (possibly parent!) corporation that most US media outlets.

Everything is biased. Its a matter of degree.

I am the cat who walks through walls, all places and all times are alike to me.
[ Parent ]

BBC bias - not government (4.00 / 1) (#69)
by AndyGuy on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 12:04:02 PM EST

The BBC has a bias - all organizations & reporters do.

But this is not a government imposed bias.  Every single government (Tory & Labour) complains that the BBC is biased against them.  So on the whole they aren't doing what the British governments wants.

[ Parent ]

No. (none / 0) (#72)
by Humuhumunukunukuapuaa on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 12:38:16 PM EST


Do you think that could make them less likely to run anti-EU and anti-Euro stories.

The BBC has been biting the hand that feeds it for as long as I can remember.
--
(&()*&^#@!!&_($&)!&$(*#$(!$&_(!$*&&!$@
[ Parent ]
I'd rather a negative bias than a positive bias (none / 0) (#85)
by misanthrope112 on Fri Aug 23, 2002 at 08:51:28 AM EST

BBC and other non-US new sources are, like all sources, biased.  But I'd prefer a source that was biased AGAINST the US, because that's the only way I can hope to get some reasonably accurate information about what my govt is doing.  I know the characterizations will be largely negative, but I automatically filter out characterizations anyway.  But when the US fails to sign a human rights treaty, or something that would cut down on land mine use, I'd like to know about that, but US news sources won't report it, not because of a conspiracy (I think) but because Americans don't care.  Americans want to be told how great the US is, and US news sources cater to that.  Only non-US sources will report on human-rights abuses within the US, and things like that.  Non-US sources may lean too far in the other direction at times, but I can live with that.  Someone saying a lot of bad things about you is probably saying more of what you need to hear than is the person saying only nice things about you.  I'd prefer listening to Noam Chomsky telling us how we suck rather than Bill Bennett telling us how we're a "beacon of freedom" or whatever to the rest of the world.  At least I can learn something from Chomsky et al.  And yes, I know Chomsky teaches in the US.  I'm just saying that negativite coverage is more newsworthy to me than is "wow the US is fantastic so  let's play that god-awful Lee Greenwood song again" coverage.  

[ Parent ]
Drop the Dead Donkey (5.00 / 1) (#58)
by sab39 on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 09:17:30 AM EST

You know, US news network viewers would really benefit from watching a few episodes of Drop the Dead Donkey...

Stuart.
--
"Forty-two" -- Deep Thought
"Quinze" -- Amélie

Sensationalism (4.83 / 6) (#59)
by Nikau on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 09:39:34 AM EST

This is almost exactly why I decided to skip out on a potential career in journalism.

Back in 1997, almost five years ago now in fact, Princess Diana was killed in the car crash. I was astonished at the sheer amount of news coverage, and a lot of it was nothing but drivel to attract viewers. Stamp her face and name on something, and people would buy it, watch it, whatever. As time passed I became a little more disgusted with the lengths some people would go to, to capitalize on her fame. Basically, it was no different when she was alive, except now instead of people buying tabloids to see if she trimmed her nails they were watching the more "reliable" media drag it out for longer than it needed to.

At the time this happened I was still in high school, and working on the school newspaper, and enjoying it.

Fast forward about two years, when JFK Jr. died. It was a tragic event, yes, but what I noticed was how the American media seized the opportunity to increase their ratings. I saw their coverage of the event as nothing more than an attempt to make his death more tragic than Princess Diana's. The amount of coverage the whole thing got was comparable to that of what Princess Di got. The big difference between the two is that (and no offence intended to anyone) Diana and JFK Jr. led different lives; he ran a magazine, Princess Di didn't work but instead much charity work. Princess Di was a more recognizable international figure, while pretty much only USians would have had the attachment to JFK Jr. Again, this is not intended to insult his life or anything, but the impact of those two deaths was vastly different from what the American media was making JFK Jr's death out to be.

I had already graduated high school at that point and was already accepted to a college program, but after JFK Jr. died, I realized the lengths to which the media will go to create sensationalism and manipulate human emotions. I decided that I didn't really want a part of it.

I may try studying journalism at some point, but I can guarantee that if I choose to make it a career, I won't be participating in the mass media anytime soon.

---
I have a zero-tolerance policy for zero-tolerance policies, and this policy itself is the exception to itself which allows me to have it without being contradictory. - Happy Monkey

Here we go again ... (none / 0) (#79)
by thebrix on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 04:45:00 PM EST

Events in Soham are in effect Diana II; they have been whipped up to an unbelievable degree by the media.

Although the murders are a very bad business there are 100 or 1,000 more important things for people outside the immediate families of the victims to worry about ...

[ Parent ]

For Basic News That Matters... (4.00 / 4) (#61)
by minusp on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 10:05:58 AM EST

... try a combination of The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, and Soldier of Fortune. Seriously, I kid you not, just follow the money around to see what's really happening. That, and the employment section of SOF can be truly enlightening - "Where would you like to fight today?"
Remember, regime change begins at home.
It's in the Guardian... (4.66 / 3) (#65)
by corian on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 11:26:22 AM EST

It looks like this isn't something that only CNN can be blamed for. What CNN did wrong, however, is in removing the reference to the story once it was retracted/explained instead of leaving the truthful explantion in the same location, where people checking back for updates would find it. That's the whole point of prominently placed retractions -- they don't do any good unless the same people who saw the original story see the retraction.

Nairobi air safety drill fools world media

Dozens of media organisations including Sky News and Reuters mistakenly reported a major air disaster after a safety drill at Nairobi's main airport sparked a crash scare.

With the media and American security forces on high alert in the run-up to the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, news presenters went into overdrive to report the "crash" just before 6pm yesterday.

Later reports that an unnamed celebrity was among the victims only served to heighten the general air of tension.

The story originated on Kenya's KTN television news, which reported that 76 people were feared dead after an airliner had crashed at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

But it rapidly spread around the world as media organisations rushed to cover the story.

Separately, a Kenyan Airport Authority spokesman had told Reuters nine people had been killed when a Boeing 737 airliner had crashed at about 7pm local time. This was also false and sparked by the security drill.

Confusion ensued until Nairobi police, realising what had happened, rushed to kill the story revealing it had been by caused by a major security drill designed to test the emergency services' response to an air disaster.

http://media.guardian.co.uk/broadcast/story/0,7493,778517,00.html

more (4.50 / 2) (#66)
by corian on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 11:35:05 AM EST

Here, let me clarify a little bit more how I feel about this.

I know and accept that breaking news will frequently have errors -- rumors will have crept in, people see smoke and suspect fire, etc. That's the price you pay for getting news "instantly". But there appropriate and non-appropriate ways of the broadcaster or publisher to handle this.

My local "affiliate" (Sky News) does a relatively bad job of this. They mention a story. Here's an example I remember: "We've heard there's been a shooting at Atlanta airpot." I leave the channel on, eagerly awaiting an update. Nothing mentioned. The next day, I get the real story from the newspaper/web.... this is the one where the guy snuck up the escallator and the terminal had to be evacuated.

Fine, they evacuated, people thought "oh no, maybe a gun" to the news media. No problem, I can picture that happening. But the purpose of the news media is to keep us informed. If you mention a possible story, and the story turns out to be a dud, you need to tell us that: people heard or saw the headline, and are going to be concerned about what happen. They're going to want more information. If the information turns out to be that the original report was wrong, tell us. That's the news. That's the update we need.

That's what I mean by saying that retratctions need to be as prominent as the original story they retract.

[ Parent ]

is it me (3.25 / 4) (#70)
by ganglian on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 12:07:33 PM EST

Regarding the news, theres a new kidnapping every day, but the mass false arrest of business patrons in Houston Texas has no mention I've seen on the National News. Is such a thing so common that it is overlooked, or just not the right panic for the day?
You heard me.
The line between tabloid journalism and journalism (4.60 / 5) (#71)
by bouncing on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 12:37:12 PM EST

This is evidence of the blurring between the line of tabloid journalism and journalism, although I fear it isn't anything new.

Other similar examples: legitimate news sources rarely pay for interviews or information. This is because if CNN pays for an account, the witness may likely embellish the account or otherwise lie to make the account more newsworthy. Not paying for information is a long-standing rule, with exceptions like paying for NFL retake videos and the like. Well, CNN and CBS Paid for Al Quada videos. They say their money did not go to Al Quada, but they won't disclose the source. It is extremely rare for a legitimate news source to do something like that.

What about story wording? Have you ever noticed on Fox News, they report the republican version as fact, then may use words like "But democrats claim" to explain the opposition. Although you may be giving equal air time to each opinion, when you report one as fact and the other as hearsay, you distort the news. And it isn't just Fox News that claims to be "Fair and Balanced" but is in fact "Propaganda and Agenda" -- I've heard similar tactics on Dateline NBC, sometimes even more egregious.

But before we jump off the handle talking about the failures of the mass media, let's take a look at oursevles. At Kuro5hin, there is almost nothing to verify the facts. At most, we review the web pages linked to. The only reason k5 isn't loaded with false information is that our community is too small to show up on the radar screen of would-be false information propagators.

One thing though (3.00 / 1) (#76)
by FourDegreez on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 03:03:33 PM EST

It is not so much the fault of the media but of the viewers. The viewers respond to tabloid journalism. Traditional, staid journalism is seen as boring by many. Salon.com has a great piece on this today, although it is premium content. The Salon author notes, "[Shows like The O'Reilly Factor] are little more than a form of professional wrestling aimed at the parents of the kids who watch actual professional wrestling."

While we're at it, here's another great article on Salon regarding tabloid journalism, in which the author notes of producers of todays political tabloid shows: "What they want is controversy and entertainment." The days of professional journalism are gone. Today, it's all spin, and exaggeration, and playing fast and loose with the facts. That's what sells.

[ Parent ]
not necessarily (3.00 / 1) (#83)
by corian on Fri Aug 23, 2002 at 05:13:47 AM EST

Salon.com has a great piece on this today, although it is premium content. The Salon author notes, "[Shows like The O'Reilly Factor] are little more than a form of professional wrestling aimed at the parents of the kids who watch actual professional wrestling." I wouldn't necessarily put O'Reilly Factor (or Rush Limbaugh for that matter) in the same category as "tabloid journalism". I see them as the TV/Radio news equivalent of the Op-Ed... it's obvious in the context that they are providing an opinion or interpretation of news and not a straight "here are the headlines". Especially on the 24-hour news channels, this is a relatively new "gimmick", but I think that overall it's good for everybody. Even if you disagree with everything they say, or you spend the whole time picking out fallacies in their arguments, you're still being encouraged to engage actively with the news and current events, and not just digest it passively.

[ Parent ]
Of course... (3.00 / 1) (#88)
by davidduncanscott on Fri Aug 23, 2002 at 04:34:36 PM EST

This is evidence of the blurring between the line of tabloid journalism and journalism, although I fear it isn't anything new.
...it isn't new. Look into Joseph Pulitzer sometime (you know, like the prize with which journalists congratulate themselves?) -- the man arguably invented tabloid journalism (and was, I've read, the first to use circles and arrows on front-page pictures, the kind that show the ax and the head more clearly, for the reader's edification.)

What's recent is the idea that journalists are a holy brotherhood, above such mundane considerations as circulation and advertising, and it's never been terribly credible.

[ Parent ]

It's worse than you think (5.00 / 8) (#82)
by Polverone on Thu Aug 22, 2002 at 09:04:30 PM EST

It's not just sensationalism that I worry about. It's the (apparent) inability of journalists to report accurately and completely about anything. How many have ever read an article about a technical subject in the mainstream press and said "boy did they screw that up"? I can spot those mistakes and laugh because I know enough to filter out the obvious inaccuracies.

But it's not as if international politics are simpler than circuit design. Economics is nearly as foreign to me as organic chemistry is to the average Joe. If I am going to rely on somebody else's expertise to help me make sense of the world, I had better be able to trust the individual and/or organization. If I read the Metropolis Daily News and page 7 warns that your microwave oven might give you cancer and page 9 says that Iraq may supply terrorists with weapons of mass destruction, what am I supposed to think? I am instantly skeptical to the point of outright dismissal of page 7, but maybe page 9 doesn't trigger any alarms. Is that because the page 9 news is so much more accurate or because I don't know well enough to be skeptical in the first place?

The few times I have had personal knowledge of events that later became local television and newspaper "news," I was dumbfounded by how poorly the facts were reported even though they were readily available. One of my friends died for a short time on a field trip with his school when he was 10. He fell into an icy river and his heart was stopped for a minute or so before he was revived. He still has newspaper clippings saved about the event. One of them quotes him saying something like "I'm glad to be alive and back with my family," but he never talked to anybody from the media! The quote was pulled from the reporter's own ass.

Another time a friend of mine severely injured himself with some homemade explosives he had made that he was trying to adopt for theatrical purposes at our (private, in case you're wondering how this ever happened) school. One news station reported him dead before they found out that, no, he'd lost a hand but was still very alive. One of the newspaper articles that came out claimed that he'd found his explosive "recipes" on the Internet (they were actually from the public library). The same article also painted him as the innocent victim of the Big Bad Internet, when in reality he was well aware of the hazardous nature of the compounds he was using and didn't even look for explosives information on the net until he was cooped up at home, healing.

I went to SIGGRAPH this year and was amazed at some of the sketches and applications sessions. Hollywood has been good at making illusions for some time, but usually you can spot the digital fakery if you know what to look for. This year I saw animated simulations of humans and natural phenomena that I couldn't have picked out as fake even were I single-stepping through the frames. The camera has always been a liar, but it can be a very, very sophisticated liar now.

I missed one of the more impressive technologies at SIGGRAPH until I was browsing through my course notes at home. Trainable Videorealistic Speech Animation allows the creation of very believable video footage of anybody saying anything, so long as you have a large enough training sample of video to begin with. As the authors note, "The recorded subjects can be regular people, celebrities, ex-presidents, or infamous terrorists." I don't like conspiracy theories, but I am going to have a very hard time accepting even well-documented events in the future unless I have firsthand knowledge of them. I can't trust news organizations to pick the important stories. I can't trust journalists to bring any research skills or personal integrity to their reporting. And now I can't even trust my own eyes when TV shows damning video evidence of Whatever.

I'm really stuck between a rock and a hard place. Do I approach the news uncritically, picking it apart only when I happen to notice something funny? Do I approach the news with maximum skepticism, wondering whether each video was faked, each pithy quote distorted, each factoid made up on the spot? I can't be an expert on everything, so I can't do my own fact checking for every news story. Kuro5hin and other community-oriented sites help, but I don't really have any way of verifying my fellow posters' credentials. Once trust breaks down it's hard to restore.


--
It's not a just, good idea; it's the law.
Media Watch in Australia (4.50 / 4) (#84)
by 668 on Fri Aug 23, 2002 at 05:34:56 AM EST

This program ran for a 15 minutes a week, featuring a highly sarcastic Queen's Counsel by the name of Stuart Littlemore who ripped journalistic practices apart with his telling diatribes. This program was shown in High Schools to demonstrate how the news is not always the truth. The program was also considered essential viewing by journalists as it impacted upon those who ended up on the microscope in this program. The journalistic profession in Australia was shown the mainstream press, radio and television to be a bunch of people who had to give up on ethics to make way for the ratings. I will share three segments I remember from all those years ago. 1) The national broadcaster has has an anchor person to present the news. They use a different person to present the news to each of the seven states and Territoties in Australia. One night six of the seven presenters held exactly the same live interview with a war correspondent in Bosnia. The live interview was really a taped segment that had been spliced in between the anchors questions. 2) A Melbourne news program held an interview with a person who was in Sydney complete with the Sydney backdrop. The interviewee was in fact in the studio in Melbourne. 3) A national Current Affairs program actually sent a journalist to purchase a significant quantity of hard drugs from Vietnamese youths. The program withheld the evidence from the police until they completed the transaction (performed over a several rendevous complete with hidden cameras) and secured the required footage to compile this piece of integral journalistic reporting. Media Watch noted that there was excessive use of racial stereotyping to point out the evil "Asian" gangsters who peddle drugs to the people. I don't follow the news anymore. I find that reading non-fiction books with extensive corrobating evidence is the best way to ensure the accuracy of the authors statments.

Daily Show vs. CNN (4.00 / 1) (#86)
by Silent Chris on Fri Aug 23, 2002 at 10:17:15 AM EST

The Daily Show had a very funny story on CNN's airing this week of the "secret" terrorist training tapes.  Jon Stewart said something to the effect of "obviously we're going to see the the dog dying only once", and then they showed the commercial CNN is airing, where they said everyday they were going to give an "exclusive" look at the tapes.

I've begun to rely on Daily Show for my daily news.  If something blows up (assuming it actually does blows up), I'll turn to CNN to get the news first.  All other news I get filtered through Jon Stewart.

To quote Jon, though, (none / 0) (#87)
by davidduncanscott on Fri Aug 23, 2002 at 04:21:28 PM EST

"We make shit up!"

[ Parent ]
mainstream news is a big business. period. (4.00 / 1) (#89)
by riff randall on Fri Aug 23, 2002 at 08:51:02 PM EST

what you have to understand is that mainstream media is a business. so they are selling something.

and they are not only selling news. they are not even really selling newspapers (why is the new york times free online?). they are giving you something that will catch your attention (scary terrorists, plane crashes, missing children..) so that you will watch the show or read along and atleast come across the ads and hopefully buy things.

because what they are definitely selling is YOU to advertisers.

it's that simple.

the output is clearly not really news, or facts, or a broad range of viewpoints, or something that might actually spark *meaningful* debate about society or what's going on. the point, therefore, is not to make you *think* or be informed.

maybe the POINT is to loosely cover "current events" in a sensationalist and narrow scope. can it really be an accident? maybe even to suggest that everything is out of control? especially out of *your* control.. this way you will gladly just sit down and watch a new dvd(TM) and not have to think about this "crazy complicated world".

the mainstream media is not going to "straighten itself out" simply because it is already working in it's own self-interest (business growth and consolidation). and the journalists who work for big business media are just normal people. they want to be good at what they do, so they do what showers them with praise and advances their careers. it's not like they are born with some "sensationalist gene" or something.

it is *us* (meaning me, you, and everyone) who need to straighten *ourselves* out, and seek out varied information with an open mind. then discuss what we find with others (this place seems like a good start?) if we are to even begin to understand the world around us and what is really going on.

there is plenty of good news information out there. maybe you just can't get it in 5 minutes from cnn...  :)

XML namespaces and standard media vocabulary (5.00 / 2) (#90)
by logiterr on Fri Aug 23, 2002 at 10:12:50 PM EST

the media has its own peculiar vocabulary. there is a general belief that what you read/watch in the news is the truth.

this belief becomes a had we know as trust. the articles on the news "say" something and we automatically believe them because this is the way things are.

the problem is that the general audience is not properly equiped with the awareness to realize that media lingo is not the same as common speech. it might as well be a whole new language. why do i call it a new language? well lets imagine that everybody has a database filled with archetypes. let these archetypes be equivalent to the letters that make up the words you are reading. the media taps into a particular subset of these letters or archetypes. but these arent unusual archetypes, rather it is how the media goes about to describe these archetypes.

i will make an observation: news stories are not designed to be informative. if they were there wouldnt be as many articles or they would end up being too dense for the average reader. news stories are designed the same way a dietician plans your diet. meals are spead out and there is an attempt to meet your particular requirements without offsetting a healthy balance.

now if the average reader were taught to read this media language then the quality of the information they extract could be raised. i hope this is obvious. if you talk the same dialect as someone else it is easier to convey your ideas it is also possible to tell when you are being made fun of which can happen (just think of the number of jokes an american will make in front of a british while our british friend remains oblivious. then of course some jokes are just so tasteless and blunt that you can not miss the point. this happens too in the news).

now to tie in all this non-sense about archetypes and xml namespaces. the media has its own language. this language is composed of a particular subset of archetypes. these archetypes are not unusual. i believe it is for this reason that the average reader will use their own personal namespace to process each news story. this fact on its own will make stories inaccurate because readers will misinterpret critical phrases. but if the media had its own namespace which it respected, it would be possible to change our context to be able to extract the maximum amount of information from an article.

now i use all this analogy with food, xml, and psychology in essence to say that people need to be thought to think critically before they are taught to believe then to trust the media. i am not saying the media is bad, but that to properly make use of its vast source of information you should be properly attuned to its style.

Accurate News, Or Lack Thereof | 92 comments (69 topical, 23 editorial, 2 hidden)
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