…a team of researchers at Northeastern University, led by Walter Quattrociocchi, decided to study how it is that erroneous information jumps the credibility fence and becomes widely believed to be true. Their theory ,… is that it has something to do with the kind of people who read “alternative” news, because they’re generally mistrustful of the mainstream media.
The team studied some 2 million Facebook users to see how they interacted with various pieces of content about the 2013 political election in Italy—stories from traditional news sites, alternative publications, and niche political sites. They then interjected 2,788 untrue or satirical “troll” posts to compare.
The researchers found that people engaged with the bunk posts even more and for even longer than the accurate reports, and they wound up triggering several viral stories, underlining “the effect of Facebook on bursting the diffusion of false beliefs when truthful and untruthful rumors coexist,” the report states.
Logically enough, the folks who were more prone to reading alternative websites (defined as “pages which disseminate controversial information, most often lacking supporting evidence and sometimes contradictory of the official news”) were also more likely to buy into a conspiracy theory. … those radical readers are A) less adept at parsing accurate information and B) already skeptical of mainstream journalism, and looking for an different take.
Really well-written gun debate article from Cracked.
After every mass shooting, the gun debate splits into two camps: One side says it easily could have been avoided if these maniacs weren’t allowed to have guns; the other says it easily could have been avoided if each innocent victim had only gone through their daily lives in cover formation, armed like the space marines entering the giant murder womb in Aliens.
And that’s pretty much the entire gun control debate, as far as the mainstream media are willing to cover. And that is a shame, because it leaves out all of the most interesting parts. Trust us, the longer you look into this, the weirder it gets. For instance …
For many people blogs have changed how information is accessed. Besides the traditional news outlets, cable news and well funded internet news and opinion ventures (and not so well funded efforts) there thousands of citizen journalists/opinion blogs. Some are collaborative efforts but most are not.
The credibility of the blogger does not guarantee a quality product. Some lawyers who blog produce a fine product. There other lawyers who do not, There are non political types who provide terrific politcal insights and there are political insiders who use the medium to serve their own self serving needs.
Some bloggers have made real contributions. Little Green Footballs was the primary force which confronted CBS and Dan Rather over the Bush military service controversy in what was later to become known as Rathergate. See Bush Documents: Forged. The story was important enough to be of real concern to some in the mainstream media. See NPR Rewrites Rathergate History to Cover Up Fraud.
When the history of the internet and blogs will be written, LGF will certainly merit more than a mention.
That isn’t to say even the better blogs are without fault. One good day at blog does not mean the following day will bring forth equally meritorious results. Agendas, politics and blindly followed ideologies can take worthy efforts and dilute them in same way that happens at other media. Without real editorial supervision opinion can quickly become expressions of dogma.
However,at newspapers and other media outlets there are usually ombudsmen who if necessary, can initiate a correction, apology or even a retraction. There is no independent arbiter at blogs- the author is also tasked with deciding when and whether to make corrections and/or apologies or to issue clarifications. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen often enough.
Blogs are here to stay. Most will be forgotten, some will be remembered and others will become real resources.
Sometime in 2006, freshly graduated from college and newly employed as a junior editor at The Wall Street Journal, I decided it would be a good idea to publish my musings about the Internet. The op-ed quoted Joseph Conrad to the effect that newspapers are “written by fools to be read by imbeciles” and suggested that blogs are the new newspapers. It turns out that people do not like to be called imbeciles, bloggers in general and imbecile bloggers in particular.
The piece, which carried the headline “The Blog Mob,” was a sensation, a controversy, and, finally, a mistake. It is worth recalling not because it has much lasting value—it does not—but partially because the situation surrounding the piece was hilarious and partially because writers who opine on public affairs ought at some point to be held accountable for their positions. They rarely are, not least by themselves. Maybe the rumpus also serves as an education in the new economics of the modern digital era and the ramifying political, cultural, and journalistic transformations wrought by the terabyte and the computer network.
“Blogs are not as significant as their self-endeared creators would like to think,” I wrote of the advent of the Web log, which still then retained some novelty. Bloggers saw themselves as an independent counterweight to the legacy mainstream media, or the MSM—“the lamestream media,” to borrow Sarah Palin’s subsequent neologism. They believed that the establishment had been corrupted by bias and groupthink. In my view, they weren’t doing a particularly good job at replacing the institutions that were supposedly discredited, and they mostly tended to comment on MSM reportage—riding along “like remora fish on the bellies of sharks, picking at the scraps,” to recall my characteristic diplomacy.
“The larger problem with blogs,” it seemed to me, “is quality. Most of them are pretty awful. Many, even some with large followings, are downright appalling.” Then I revved up the RPMs:
In this year’s US presidential election, truth is in short supply. Both the Democrats and the Republicans have become more unabashed in their lies than ever before. With a mainstream media weakened by the appearance of partisan bias and editorial staffs that have been ravaged during the crisis, many of the whoppers won’t be second-guessed.
Republican Party presidential candidate Paul Ryan is a fitness freak. At the crack of dawn, he likes to lift weights in the catacombs of the Capitol Building. He says it has helped him to maintain a body fat index of between 6 and 8 percent. Ryan can also run very fast — at least so he claims. The conservative candidate even told a radio host he had completed a marathon in “under three, I think, you know, high twos … a two hour and fifty-something.”
Twenty-six miles (42 kilometers) in under three hours? With a time like that, Ryan could practically fall back on a career as a marathon runner if he doesn’t manage to secure the United States’ second highest political office. US fitness magazines quickly expressed their doubts, with some actually bothering to research marathon statistics. They found only one entry, from 1999, that included Ryan. What they unearthed was data that read more like a hobby jogger than a running machine: four hours and one minute.
Ryan was forced to concede that he had remembered things incorrectly. Was it a big deal? Of course not. But it is still an episode that is telling of this US election. Never before have candidates on both sides lied so openly and so unabashedly — about their own merits, but also about the plans of their rivals. The development prompted one New York Times columnist to warn: “Facts are for losers. The truth is dead.”
The marathon incident was the exception; Ryan was forced to apologize. But much more audacious attempts at manipulating the truth in this election have gone unpunished — largely because strategists in both the Republican and Democratic camps are coolly calculating that people these days are no longer being held liable for their lies in politics.
“The bottom line is that the guys who are Ron Paul supporters are free-thinkers,” said Doerges. “They’re more literate. They’re able to actually look at data, and make decisions about it. That’s sort of the keynote of Scientology — it literally means ‘the study of knowledge.’ The think on it, as we decided to do the both, was: Look, you’ve already got guys here who actually know that the mainstream media is full of crap. They actually know that there’s more out there than what you’re being fed. Let’s get in front of some of those people, get in front of some of the false data they have on the subject, get them interested in something that actually helps able people become more able.”
Doerges said that a fellow believer had turned him onto Paul. “From being a Scientologist, and knowing Scientologists, a lot of Scientologists support Ron Paul,” he said. “A lot of them look at it and go: Look, the bottom line is the system we are in right now in supressive. It actually rewards non-production and punishes production. And so you have an economic crisis — like, go figure! If you reward non-production, you’re going to get non-production. Scientologists realize that. They tend to be independent thinkers.”
Doerges’s companion interjected: We were hearing one man’s personal beliefs, not any statement from the church. As Doerges described how he got turned onto Paul, though, he kept mentioning libertarian stances that would be good for new-ish religions that want as much protection as possible.
Clearly, the Romney campaign’s anti-Obama welfare ads have come at a cost. Given the way they have been condemned as false by even mainstream media sources—as Alec MacGillis pointed out yesterday, Joe Scarborough has explained that he was “stunned” by the ads’ demonstrable falseness—the Romney camp has forfeited any hope of pivoting to the “high road” in response to future Obama attacks.
But judging from the Romney campaign’s relentless commitment to the welfare message (there have been multiple iterations of the ad over the past several weeks), Boston seems to believe it’s working. Are they right? Certainly, the advertisements target the audience that Romney needs—namely, white working class voters. It’s harder to say whether the message will be as effective as they hope: It’s been a long while since welfare’s traditional ability to dredge up deep resentments has been tested on the national stage. Still, given the precariousness of Romney’s position—and, frankly, his willingness to push the envelope—it’s the smartest tactical move he’s made yet.
To win the presidency, Romney will need to consolidate nearly all of the undecided, predominantly white working class voters with reservations about Obama’s performance. The problem is that the Obama campaign has long possessed a strategy to block Romney’s path to victory: Depict Romney as an out-of-touch plutocrat bent on annihilating the middle class. In contrast, Team Romney hasn’t really crafted a specific messaging strategy built to appeal to particular demographic groups. They’ve seemed to believe that generic ads criticizing the president will be sufficient to persuade voters with Obama reservations to join Romney’s side. For the most part, though, these ads haven’t moved the needle, in part because the president is already extremely well-known.
But the ads alleging that Obama dismantled the welfare work requirement are different— and potentially more effective. For one, they’re targeted to appeal directly to white working class voters, as many others have pointed out. And unlike other attacks on Obama, the welfare advertisement introduces new information that voters probably didn’t know—which can be more effective than other ads that simply stress facts that voters already internalized. (Never mind that this information is new because it isn’t true.)
Twitter just achieved a holy trinity of snackable multimedia: you could already view Instagram pictures and YouTube videos within tweets, but now you can also listen to SoundCloud sounds without ever leaving twitter.com.
If it sounds a little Facebook-ey, it should — this, along with the other parts of the ‘expanded tweets’ announcement, shows Twitter stepping up far more explicitly than before as Facebook’s most plausible rival. Deals with the likes of SoundCloud and DailyMotion square up to the media embeds found on Facebook’s profile walls, while partnerships with The New York Times, Der Spiegel and others provide a counterpart to Facebook’s content apps.
Mathew has recently put forward some strong arguments for why the mainstream media should see Twitter as a competitor, or even a threat, but with the announcement of expanded tweets it’s worth re-evaluating what the platform has to offer, particularly in comparison to Facebook.
Yesterday, we documented how the conservative media, following the release of a report by the Secretary of the Senate, covered up obstructionism by Senate Republicans in order to cast Democrats as “do-nothing” and “lazy.” In fact, Republicans have routinely resorted to filibusters to try to block bills that would have otherwise passed the Senate.
But the right-wing media would not easily get away with this if not for the complicity of the mainstream media. On Monday, a majority of senators voted in support of legislation to enact the Buffett Rule, which would set a minimum effective tax rate for annual income in excess of $1 million. Fifty-one senators voted in favor of the bill, while 45 senators opposed it. The legislation did not pass the Senate, however, because a Republican filibuster meant that a supermajority of 60 senators was needed in order to pass the bill.
But the mainstream media was noticeably derelict in reporting that the bill had majority support and was blocked by procedural tricks by the minority. For instance, The Boston Globe article on the subject stated: “Monday night’s Buffett rule vote, which blocked consideration of the bill in a 51-45 tally, was timed to coincide with Tuesday’s IRS filing deadline.” The article continued: “Republicans prevented the measure from receiving the 60 votes necessary to open debate. All Republicans but Senator Susan Collins of Maine voted against it. All Democrats except for Mark Pryor of Arkansas voted for it.”
Unless a reader knew the number of Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, the reporting makes it seem that 51 senators voted against the bill rather than in favor of it.
LAPD Made Sure The Whole World Ain’t Watching
LAPD Made Sure The Whole World Ain’t Watching
Submitted by Ruth Fowler on Tue, 11/29/2011 - 2:11am
As both a journalist who occasionally freelances for the mainstream media, and an Occupier, I find myself in a conflicted position regarding reporting on Occupy LA. My personal affinity towards the movement means that I am loathe to write about it in the mainstream media with any kind of objectivity. The flipside of this is that rarely is the mainstream media itself impartial or unbiased. I do, however, frequently pass on accurate information to publications such as The Guardian when it does not conflict with the solidarity of the movement. For example, The Guardian’s recent reporting on Eviction Night was crap, so I wrote in and corrected it with accurate details. I’m sure they probably ignored me. But anyway.
Referring again to The Guardian, a recent article by Naomi Wolf, entitled The Shocking Truth About the Crackdown on Occupy, caused a furore across the internet. It’s advent was timely, given the tweets sent out by the LAPD today announcing a media pool for Occupy LA: (Emails Removed By Daniel per LGF policy)
The repercussions of this are tremendous: this essentially means from now onwards, only a limited number of pre-agreed media endorsed by LAPD are allowed on Solidarity Park (formerly known as City Hall) property to report on Occupy LA and our battles with the LAPD and City Council’s attempts to evict us. I immediately emailed a member of the press who was in this meeting representing a MSM publication, and received this response:
They were only going to let in one media outlet for each medium (print, tv and radio) but we convinced them to let in three….the only media eligible for pool were those who were on the LAPD press release list and able to get to headquarters with an hours notice. So very few were represented at the meeting. I asked about independent radio/blogs and they said that only media with LAPD-issued badges would be allowed in the vicinity. I asked about those already at the camp and they said after the unlawful assembly order everyone who doesn’t leave will be arrested, even those who are journalists. Our attorney was looking into whether there were legal challenges to be made.
Once again, a clear violation of First Amendment Rights is occuring over Occupy LA and its eviction. It remains to be seen whether other members of the MSM excluded from the pool adhere to it or not, but the banning of MSM from the scene of Occupy LA during its eviction severely inhibits the press from reporting fairly and accurately, as well as protecting Occupiers from police abuses, which are frequently deterred by the presence of the media. Last night, on the street, one of the chants heard often was “The Whole World is Watching”.
LAPD listened to that, and instantly addressed it, so that they can make sure the whole world isn’t watching. Only those MSM outlets they choose to filter our information are going to be watching Occupy LA and LAPD’s attempts to evict us.
Note: California Penal Code Section 409.5 clearly states reasons that the LAPD and other agencies may close areas due to public health concerns, riots, civil disturbances or calimities (earthquakes, fires, floods, etc) — but — Section D of 409.5 states:
(D) NOTHING IN THIS SECTION SHALL PREVENT A DULY AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE OF ANY NEWS SERVICE, NEWSPAPER, RADIO OR TELEVISON STATION OR NETWORK FROM ENTERING THE AREAS CLOSED PURSUANT TO THIS SECTION. (bold mine)
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