AuthorTopic: Collapse of Credibility In Mainstream Press Burdens Its Readers - Fake News  (Read 3272 times)

Offline Golden Oxen

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Collapse of Credibility In Mainstream Press Burdens Its Readers

By IRA STOLL, Special to the Sun | March 19, 2018




It’s not just President Trump who thinks “fake news” is a problem. Even the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward is warning that some reporters are becoming “emotionally unhinged” covering President Trump and crossing over into a “tone of ridicule.”

Science magazine, the peer-reviewed journal whose headlines usually run to “Random heteropolymers preserve protein function in foreign environments” or “Organometallic and radical intermediates reveal mechanism of dipthamide biosynthesis,” devoted a recent article to “The science of fake news.” It observed that “general trust in the mass media collapsed to historic lows in 2016.”

The Science article was by David Lazer of Northeastern University, Matthew Baum of Harvard, and 14 other scholars affiliated with, among other institutions, MIT, Tufts, Indiana University, University of California Santa Barbara, Dartmouth, Yale, Columbia, Brown, and Boston College. They advocated identifying and reacting to “fake news” in part by focusing on the intent of publishers.

That, they write, “allows us to avoid the morass of trying to evaluate the accuracy of every single news story.”

With all due respect to the academics, evaluating the accuracy of “every single news story” is precisely the responsibility of every single reader. The alternative — blindly trusting the story, suspending skepticism or independent judgment just because the article confirms your existing point of view, was shared on social media by a friend, or comes from a “credible” news organization — is a kind of infantilization.

To the credit of the academics, they float “empowering individuals” as one possible solution to the “fake news” problem. They mention “education” to “improve individual evaluation of the quality of information sources.”

They do, though, worry that “an emphasis on fake news might also have the unintended consequence of reducing the perceived credibility of real-news outlets.”

It seems to me that the bigger risk to what the academics credulously call “real-news outlets” is that editors erode a publication’s credibility by allowing inaccurate, partisan, fraudulent, or tendentious news to slip through. It’s not just the outright hoax-perpetrators such as Janet Cooke at the Washington Post, Stephen Glass at the New Republic, and Jayson Blair at the New York Times. It’s also the way bias, double-standards, or sloppiness slip into even run-of-the-mill, routine news coverage.

Take, for example, the New York Times news article reporting on President Trump’s decision to hire Lawrence Kudlow as chairman of the National Economic Council. It devoted three paragraphs to a poll that “found support dipping slightly for Mr. Trump’s signature tax law: 49 percent of respondents approved of the bill, down from 51 percent in February.”

Given that the poll’s margin of sampling error was 1.5%, the idea that a two percentage point move either way is newsworthy is questionable. If the poll had moved two percentage points in the other direction and President Trump tweeted triumphantly about it, you can bet that Times “fact-checkers” would have been all over his case about being statistically illiterate.

The same Times news article faulted Mr. Kudlow for having been “wildly wrong” by, as the Times put it, “denying the existence of recessions while they were already underway during President George W. Bush’s administration.”

As an example, the Times quoted Mr. Kudlow as writing in December 2007, “Despite all the doom and gloom from the economic pessimistas...the resilient U.S. economy continues moving ahead.”

It’s not clear to me that Mr. Kudlow’s December 2007 view qualifies as “wildly wrong.” The nonpartisan National Bureau of Economic Research, which has a committee of eminent academic economists that retrospectively dates recessions, describes December 2007 as “the peak of the business cycle,” meaning that it was both the “last month” of the expansion and the “first month of the recession.” Fourth quarter real GDP growth in 2007 was positive, not negative.

Even if Mr. Kudlow was wrong, wildly or less than wildly, in December 2007, he sure had plenty of company. One New York Times news headline from that month was “Shares Rally on Surprisingly Strong Jobs Data.” The lead paragraph of that news article spoke of “renewed optimism about the outlook for the economy.”

Another Times news headline from that month was “Economy Holding Up, Reports Find.” That article began, “Maybe the American economy is not going to keel over just yet, after all. Government reports released Thursday showed surprising resilience in the broader economy.”

Attempting to evaluate the accuracy of each individual news story may be a “morass,” as the peer-reviewed professors put it. But readers who shirk the task do so at their own peril.


https://www.nysun.com/national/collapse-of-presss-credibility-puts-the-burden/90218/ :icon_study: :icon_study:

Offline Surly1

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It’s not just President Trump who thinks “fake news” is a problem. Even the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward is warning that some reporters are becoming “emotionally unhinged” covering President Trump and crossing over into a “tone of ridicule.”

Anyone who buys the "fake news" trope from Trump should be fitted now for their brown shirt. Trump calls any news that does not report about him in an obsequious and fawning manner "fake news." This is the Big Lie, repeated again and again and again, as per the philosophy of his mentor as expressed ion Trump's favored bedtime reading.

Donald Trump's ex-wife once said Trump kept a book of Hitler's speeches by his bed
http://www.businessinsider.com/donald-trumps-ex-wife-once-said-he-kept-a-book-of-hitlers-speeches-by-his-bed-2015-8

I heard Bob Woodward speak a couple of years ago. He revealed himself as a self-absorbed company suck. Bobbo now spends much of his time burnishing his reputation, as befits marketing a product based on credibility borrowed from his subjects.

http://www.doomsteaddiner.net/blog/2014/01/15/bob-woodward-in-norfolk/

Actually one of my better efforts.

Excerpt:
Quote
Bob Woodward is very pleased with himself, and he wants you to be as pleased with him as he is. He spins sophisticated anecdotes of conversations, and parties, and interviews, and being intrepid enough to knock on the door of a general  he needed for a story at 8:15 PM on a Tuesday at the General’s home. The point of this exercise was, and I quote, “To make sure that the person being interviewed realized he was as important to the story as I thought he was.” And this is a guy who calls Obama arrogant.

Contrary observed that Woodward hadn’t had a conversation since the 70s in which he failed to mention the Robert Redford played him in the movie. And there was the inevitable mention, and obligatory question about the suffix “–gate” being applied to every brewing scandal. “Bridge-gate” was the topic du jour, but that will fade as soon as our paid media can float another story about Kim Kardashian’s ass.

And never forget Bob's books are for sale in the lobby.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Golden Oxen

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Not a fan of Woodward either Surly, never cared for him.

There were other folks mentioned and then there was the poll.

As for ex wives and ex husbands an ex's in general, I get all that fake news and exaggeration at the local pub from those sources. Man o Man can they spin some tales, especially after the second and third pop.   ::) ;D

Offline Surly1

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Not a fan of Woodward either Surly, never cared for him.

There were other folks mentioned and then there was the poll.

As for ex wives and ex husbands an ex's in general, I get all that fake news and exaggeration at the local pub from those sources. Man o Man can they spin some tales, especially after the second and third pop.   ::) ;D

Can't we all?  :icon_mrgreen:

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Golden Oxen

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Not a fan of Woodward either Surly, never cared for him.

There were other folks mentioned and then there was the poll.

As for ex wives and ex husbands an ex's in general, I get all that fake news and exaggeration at the local pub from those sources. Man o Man can they spin some tales, especially after the second and third pop.   ::) ;D

Can't we all?  :icon_mrgreen:



 :emthup: :emthup: :emthup: :emthup: :emthup: ;D :D

 

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