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May 13, 2005

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I tend to think that the end result of such a trend would be that you would have people going to the news entity that best reflects reality as they would like to see it. If you thought that the internet was an echo chamber now, imagine when you reach a point of not having any sort of BS filters. I mean, there's a reason that if something appears in WorldNetDaily or a Jihadi website, one can generally assume that it's nonsense.

Yeah, I can't wait until all the news has that sort of reliability...

I'm very encouraged by the fact that local news watching has declined in viewership since it certainly has declined in quality over the past 15 years or so.

Am I reading the chart properly if I say that slightly more people watch cable news than network news? That Fox is only a quarter of cable news? That suggests (unless one of the big three has a really small share of the network total) that it doesn't approach the reach of any one of the three network news broadcasts. Are you lamenting the fact that people are watching FoxNews or something else?

Googlezon? Amazoogle?

Are you lamenting the fact that people are watching FoxNews or something else?

I'm most lamenting what's happend to the NewsHour. But Fox's rise is also depressing.

And why don't they have a separate category for the Daily Show, hmmm?

"Someone will have to still collect the raw data"

I think about this a lot, since MSM is more pernicious than useful, and since distributed news-gathering appears to be approaching a possiblity. My local ABC broadcaster has about 200 individual amateur "weather reporters" he gets constant info from, temperature, wind, rain gauges, barometers. They might be available or made available on the net. I get my most important useful rain forecasts simply by lookin at the radar and winds etc. Usually by this means I can be more accurate for 2-8 hour forecasts than what the professionals give me, which has a analysis/publishing time lag.

If a plane were to crash within 5 miles of me, or a major terrorist attack, with a cell phone and web access and DV I would be a better source of accurate observations than CNN. We are already seeing this constantly. One problem is motivating amateur reporters to do legwork; one answer appears to be the sale of interesting film footage.

If I want public or official press releases I go to MSM, tho I may not need to (eg, UN or Iraqi gov't web sites?).
More often when I want info I go to blogs or web sites.

We really should be thinking about what a world without big-cap information will (!) look like, and how we can contribute.

One problem is motivating amateur reporters to do legwork;

Actually, the EPIC scenario has an answer for that. If your footage or text is used more often, you get money back.

Someone will have to still collect the raw data (quotes from those on the scene, photos, etc.).

There's a recent science fiction book that I remember reading about, where the idea it posits is that in the future, everything is recorded, and things have become an 'information economy' where everything recorded by your cameras can be sold or exchanged. Certainly, we can 'see' more (cf. the notion of scam baiting and this exemplar where they get the scammers to appear in front of a webcam come to mind) Soon, the raw material is going to be accessible, and it is just going to take someone with an obssession (and a blog, of course) to present it all.

Well, Reynolds is trying to make this future easier for us all with his generic blog-reporting kit

The solution to the raw data problem is improved computer rendering. At the moment, fake news technology only extends as far as producing fake memos; however, in the future we will be able to produce photorealistic scenes of events which never took place. The major challenge is actually making them look bad enough to be real.

It'll probably start small, with fake versions of real events, or things like Gerry Adams being dubbed on the BBC news, or expanded use of "reconstructions". At some point, the "reconstruction" label will get smaller. Eventually people will decide that the fake news is better than the real news - or at least, more what they want to hear than that emerging from the reality-based community - and then it will be almost totally impossible to get anyone to change their views.

I think at the moment it would be possible to fake the Zapruder film given about $5 million and a year. In ten years that might be down to $5,000 and a week.

But Peter, won't some high-profile example of where fake news caused great distress or harm make folks reconsider what they want?

But Peter, won't some high-profile example of where fake news caused great distress or harm make folks reconsider what they want?

It's already happened.

"Actually, the EPIC scenario has an answer for that."

Color me too familiar with American history, or something, but my flash reaction is to marvel that Sinclair Lewis and friends were so prescient.

;-)

"There's a recent science fiction book that I remember reading about, where the idea it posits is that in the future, everything is recorded, and things have become an 'information economy' where everything recorded by your cameras can be sold or exchanged."

I'm not particularly au courant with the field, but David Brin has been shoveling this sort of thing and similar views in his nonfiction writing for a number of this. But you might also be thinking of any number of possibilities, perhaps.

It's already happened.

?

?

You said: won't some high-profile example of where fake news caused great distress or harm make folks reconsider what they want?, and I had to resist this urge to obviously drag your attention over to Dan Rather.

GROAN!!!

Yeah, Slarti...how did the sloppy professional journalism of that report cause you great distress or harm?

Uh...you didn't say it had to cause ME great distress or harm, Edward. Still, it was distressing to see non-politicians engaging in legendary idiocy.

I don't see where it caused anyone harm and it wasn't fake news, Slarti. Sloppy yes, but fake, no.

Oh, really? It's your position, then, that the memo wasn't fake?

The memo was fake. The report wasn't.

There's a difference. An important one.

Rather got his conclusions right. One piece of evidence was faked, although the secretary who typed the real memo said that the fake one was accurate in terms of content. The accuracy of the content of the memo needs to be recognized by Bush's apologists.
I worry about the polariztion or maybe fragmentation of news sources, too. We need to have a common narrative, a shared basis for conversation,in order to sustain democracy. I can imagine the fragmentation of news leading, over decades, to the Balkinzation of the nation into such highly polarized factions that unity can't be maintained democratically .
I wish the presence of the Internet would create a demand for quality in TV news, but I think the opposite will happen, and , that as time goes on, people will have less and less ability to recognize quality.
But I'm feeling gloomy today.

I don't understand why EPIC is a doomsday scenario, simply because I don't see how it's tangibly worse than what we have now. Look, the Flash presentation held the NYTimes up as the standard-bearer of truth in reporting, and yet the NYTimes became a shill for the invasion, its front-page becoming rather transparently captured by war hawks. How is the chaos and sensationalism of EPIC any worse than this? In the Iraq War, we saw something I think far more dangerous than a knowing elite that self-consciously created a deception. I think we saw an elite that managed to bamboozle itself into believing. Since the nutritional content of the nightly news is darn near nil if not negative, I can't see how a rabble of amateur reporters is really all that worse.

Look, the Flash presentation held the NYTimes up as the standard-bearer of truth in reporting, and yet the NYTimes became a shill for the invasion, its front-page becoming rather transparently captured by war hawks. How is the chaos and sensationalism of EPIC any worse than this?

The difference is that the NYTimes has begun a series of corrections since then, admitting its mistakes and exploring how better to avoid them as well as regain readers' trust. The fact that readers' trust is important to the NYT is your indication that they are not worse than other sources.

It seems like bitching does little good until there's an alternative, so people can PROVE there's a better way & you can do well by doing good. I'm thinking of the Dean campaign financing model, and of hybrid cars. We need the Toyota Prius of news. The Daily Show is part of it, some blogs are part of the Prius, NPR & the old fashioned daily newspapers are more the Honda Civic or the Toyota Camry than the Prius but they are part of the solution...but I am convinced: there needs to be a cable news network that is actually good. The NewsHour is reputable, but frankly, boring as all get out. NOW is good but I just don't make my schedule around it--there's a very limited amount a once-weekly show can do.

As far as TV goes, can't we harass CNN until they broadcast CNN International in the US, and then do our best to watch it & support its advertisers? It's the same damn company; it's quite good; it's more in line with the U.S. public's desires than the BBC; all they have to do is SHOW it.

The memo was fake. The report wasn't.

Edward, I don't think anyone, anywhere is claiming that it was an imaginary news report.

One piece of evidence was faked,

Which would be a salient point, except for that it was really the only piece of evidence around which any controversy revolved.

although the secretary who typed the real memo said that the fake one was accurate in terms of content

So, "fake but accurate" is perfectly ok? Recall, if you will, that a great deal of the excitement factor around that memo was that it was supposed to contain written orders for Bush to report for a physical. Orders that Bush, by implication, refused to obey.

CBS acquires this piece, fails to do even a minimal amount of verification, and publishes it at a time calculated to do damage to Bush's bid for the presidency. Is it only "distress or harm" when it happens to people you like?

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