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Posts: 1204/1675
(13-May-2007 at 01:04)


Can mainstream media be truly critical?

I just saw the film Good Night and Good luck, and was immediately reminded of the concept of the "manufacture of consent".

The film is about Edward Murrow, a CBS television journalist who mustered the courage to attack senator Joseph McCarthy in the fifties during the communist witch hunt. Apart from commenting on the state of TV journalism today, the film implicitly asks the question whether it is even possible to have a critical press in today's society.

In the film, Murrow's honesty and penchant for controversial subjects eventually cause sponsors to withdraw their funds for Murrow's half hour segment, "See it Now". The CBS chief, William Paley, seems forced to end Murrow's program and move it to the tragic time slot of Sunday afternoon.

The strange thing is, Murrow's program was popular:

"The broadcast provoked tens of thousands of letters, telegrams and phone calls to CBS headquarters, running 15 to 1 in favor of Murrow. In a Murrow retrospective produced by CBS for the A&E Network series Biography, [Fred] Friendly noted how truck drivers pulled up to Murrow on the street in subsequent days and shouted "Good show, Ed. Good show, Ed." (from the wiki)

So despite an active interest of the public in Murrow's show, advertisers pulled the rug from under Murrow's feet, causing him basically to lose his voice on air.

Why would advertisers withdraw support for a news program that is doing well?

I think the answer is: they did not like its content.

It is not as if anyone 'controls' the media and tells people what to say and what not to say. There's no organized conspiracy manipulating the media to publish stuff they want to see published. Instead, there seems to be a more systematic approach, a self-regulating protocol which allows only the voices that the advertisers approve of to be heard.

Journalists are confined to publishing only stuff their advertisers approve of; if they cross the line, they risk losing their position, their voice, their job.

In such an environment, is it even possible for journalists from newspapers or television networks to provide honest uncensored reporting? Isn't the powerful position of advertisers compromising the integrity of the free press? How can people expect quality news reporting from people who are pre-approved by the people holding the dollars?

This can be summed up by this bit from

an insightful interview:

Andrew Marr: "What I don't get is that all of this suggests... people like me are self-censoring."

Chomsky: "I don't say you're self-censoring. I'm sure you believe everything you're saying. But what I'm saying is, if you believed something different you wouldn't be sitting where you're sitting."

So the next time you accuse some media of being biased conservative or liberal, check who sells products on their time or their pages. That means that those corporations approve of whatever is said in them. And remember: 60% of the oh-so-liberal New York Times are ads, 40% are actual stories.

Watch the Manufacture of Consent for more on this. Or read it.

"Observers worldwide have been expressing great pity for the people of Gaza [...] This pity may be a natural emotional reaction, yet it is unethical and immoral." - Adi Dvir, Ynetnews editor
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(13-May-2007 at 02:54)


more homework!

Divide by Cucumber Error. Please re-install Universe and reboot. - Terry Pratchett, Hogfather
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(13-May-2007 at 12:39)


This article is pretty interesting as well, the author did research on the topic..

Quote:
By Laurence Soley
Published by: Extra!, July/August 1997

Sixty years ago, reporter and press critic George Seldes wrote in Freedom of the Press that advertisers, not government, are the principal news censors in the United States. Not only do advertisers pressure newspapers to kill or alter stories, he concluded, but newspapers censor stories out of deference "toward the sources of their money" without being told.

Sixty years later, advertisers are still muscling newspapers. A survey of 55 members of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers at the society's 1992 conference revealed that advertiser pressure was common. Eighty percent reported that the pressure was a growing problem, and 45 percent knew of instances where news coverage was compromised by advertisers. "Business journalists have always struggled against advertiser pressures, but our members are telling us it's getting worse," said Sandra Deurr, the business editor of the Louisville Courier-Journal and former society president.

A survey of local news editors described in Advertising Age (1/11/93) found that automobile dealers were the most frequent sources of pressure. "They want all stories involving auto sales to have a rosy outlook," one editor observed, "and they whine about negative economic stories, even if they're on a national level from AP."

Advertisers appear to be muscling broadcasters as well. In Los Angeles, veteran KCBS-TV consumer reporter David Horowitz was let go in 1996 after automobile advertisers repeatedly complained to management about his stories on car safety. According to Horowitz management had first tried to stop his investigations with comments such as, "I'm concerned about the story not because it's right or wrong, but because it may cost us advertising." According to Chicago Sun-Times columnist Robert Feder (2/12/96), Chicago's WLS-TV killed a story on fire hazards in Ford vehicles because it "didn't want to risk offending auto dealers who advertise heavily on the station."

Pressures Are Common

To determine whether these actions are typical, I sent a questionnaire about advertiser pressures to 241 members of Investigative Reporters and Editors employed at commercial television stations. The questionnaires asked reporters about advertiser muscling of their news operations and their stations' responses to these pressures. Only one IRE member at each station was sent a questionnaire, thereby eliminating duplicated answers. Just under 50 percent of the questionnaires sent out were completed and returned.

Nearly three-quarters of the respondents reported that advertisers had "tried to influence the content" of news at their stations. The majority of respondents also reported that advertisers had attempted to kill stories.

Moreover, the responses show that advertisers tried to use monetary leverage as part of their pressure. More than two-thirds reported that advertisers threatened to withdraw their advertising because of the content of news stories. Forty-four percent of the respondents reported that advertisers had "actually withdrawn advertising because of the content of a news report."

The responses of reporters at large and small market stations did not differ. For example, 75 percent of respondents at large market stations reported that advertisers had "tried to influence the content" of news stories, compared to 74 percent of respondents at small market stations. As for whether advertisers had actually "withdrawn advertising because of the content of a news report," 44 percent of reporters at stations in both large and small markets responded affirmatively.

Comments made on the questionnaires suggest that automobile dealers are a major source of censorial pressure. One respondent wrote, "it would be interesting for you to take a look at the role car dealers play in governing what's said about them by local television. They are practically untouchable."

Citing another censorious industry, one reporter noted that "we are currently battling with the local restaurant association and the members who advertise on our station whether we should air the city's weekly restaurant inspection ratings." The reporter added, "In this instance, my bosses are backing me." Grocery stores and "lawyers who advertise on television" were also mentioned as sources of pressure.

Successful Censorship

Of course, the more important question is not whether advertisers have directly pressured television stations, but whether the stations have yielded to the pressure. Questioned whether advertisers "succeeded in influencing a news report at your station," nearly as many said their stations had capitulated (40 percent) as had withstood the pressure (43 percent).

Two questions addressed the issue of self-censorship. Asked whether there had been "pressure from within your stations to not produce news stories that advertisers might find objectionable," 59 percent of respondents said there had been. One respondent wrote, "I have experienced direct pressure from my general manager (with no defense from my news director) to not only 'tread lightly' on advertisers, but also to be careful about 'our corporate neighbors in the community.' Disgusting!"

A reporter in California, who claimed to have been sacked for offending advertisers, sent a copy of a memo he received from his news director, reading, "If you're involved in a story which you know might reflect badly on an advertiser, please let me know, so I can give sales a 'heads up.'"

Several respondents provided in-depth descriptions of the internal pressures at their stations. One wrote, "I've found that many general managers at TV stations (including my own) are former TV sales people and therefore know the advertisers very well. It is common for advertisers to call a station and express their 'concerns' about a story. While I have never been asked to lie or mislead viewers, I have been asked to soften a story an advertiser might find objectionable."

Another commented that "I'm not sure if 'pressure' is the right word. It's probably better described as 'story steering.' For example, if a story is suggested on car dealers, something might be said like, 'there's a lot better things for us to look into, don't you think?'" Similarly, one reporter wrote that direct pressure wasn't applied at the station, but there was "just a general understanding to avoid a specific area."

Eager to Please

As for whether there had "been pressure from within your station to produce news stories to please advertisers," 56 percent of respondents reported that there was. Several reporters wrote comments about this pressure. The most frequent comment suggested that "sales people come in and request stories be done on their clients" or that sales people set up "interviews and tell us about them after they're promised." Another wrote there was pressure "to interview advertisers on positive stories and not on negative stories with the guidance of management."

Other reporters painted a less benevolent picture of the pressure to produce stories to please advertisers. One wrote that the "pressure to produce stories to please advertisers is commonplace and intense. An example--a reporter is doing an annual 'Valentines Day Gifts' feature. Management will strongly suggest visiting a florist that advertises with the station. The reporter also described an incident where the news director told a business reporter to do a story on an advertiser saying, 'We have to do a story on this. I know it isn't news, but this is a huge account.' The reporter knew she had no choice and did the story...These types of incidents happen on a weekly, if not daily, basis to varying degrees."

Another reporter provided a directive that had been handed down by the news director: "From time to time, we do stories where we need an expert of sorts...no one company or person in particular, just someone who knows about a certain subject. Sales has asked me to check with them in those situations, feeling that...we might as well call on one who does business with the station. So, whenever it's one of those situations (like we need a realtor, we need a bail bondsman, we need a coffee shop owner), please give sales a call and see if they have someone who's available and media friendly."

As for the sources of internal pressure, 35 reporters specifically mentioned the sales manager or sales department as being the source of pressure, 23 mentioned the general manager or "management," and nine mentioned the news director.

A Little Help From Their Friends

While other groups try to influence or suppress coverage, advertisers wield a unique economic club over television stations by withdrawing or threatening to withdraw advertising. However, advertisers do not exert the pressure by themselves. As one respondent wrote:

"The pressure comes from out side the station and within the station and often the two sides are working together to either kill stories or alter them. I know of an instance where a sales executive actually met with the focus of an investigative report over lunch and told him what the story would be about. How did the sales executive know the content of an investigative report before it aired? A news executive told him."

Not all news executives have sold out, of course. But with pressures for greater profits, the incentive to produce news stories that will either please or not offend advertisers is great. The problem was summarized by an investigative reporter, who wrote:

"The pressure from outside influences doesn't bother me; it's always been there and I suspect it always will be. However, there seems to be a frightening trend for the powers that be at corporate [headquarters] to give in to that pressure and pretend everything will go on as before--business as usual. "Unfortunately, in many cases, that's all it is, Business. A gold-card advertiser can keep the dirty secrets secret and in some cases keep their victims in the dark. Those victims are our viewers who expect more and many times rely too much on the so-called power of the press. What they don't know is-- power has a price, and it's for sale."

Author: Lawrence Soley is the Colnik Professor of Communications at Marquette University in Milwaukee.
-> http://www.brasscheck.com/cm/tvnews.html

Your brain is unique in the history of the universe. Use it wisely.
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(13-May-2007 at 12:44)


Quote:
Journalists are confined to publishing only stuff their advertisers approve of; if they cross the line, they risk losing their position, their voice, their job.
Only if they work for a publication supported by advertising revenue.

Some things to note about journalists:-

They are rarely experts in the field they write about. If they were, they would not be writing about it - they would be doing it

They write for money. That means they write what people want to hear. or more accurately what people will buy.

Before anything gets published they have to get it past an editor. His views will have a strong bearing on what gets chosen for publication.

There is safety in numbers. If they follow the herd they cannot be condemned as being wrong when everybody else was right - a death sentence for a journalist.

"Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." But let it be considered that he did not mean a real and generous love of our country, but that pretended patriotism which so many, in all ages and countries, have made a cloak of self- interest.
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(13-May-2007 at 14:12)


Mainstream media can indeed never be truly critical. Mainstream kind of indicates that it tries to get as large of an audience as possible. Critique is mostly connected to an opinion that is not universally accepted. Hence, real mainstream media will (almost) never be truly critical.

I don't believe that it's an inherently bad thing though. People will overall not be interested in critical comments that don't connect to their world image anyhow. And for people that do have a critical mind, it's rather easy to access critical news due to the internet. An added bonus there is that bringing news via the internet is so cheap that it doesn't heavily rely on advertisers.

Modern world I'm not pleased to meet you

You just bring me down
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(13-May-2007 at 15:09)


Your analysis that somehow external companies control media content is misdirected. Companies by in large are not partisan but rather are whores to profit. They are reactive.

That's why once democrats get into power corporations start showering them with money. That's why some of the biggest polluters are lobbying for more strict environmental regulation. Clearly doing either of those would likely contradict their beliefs, but they do it anyway because they know it pays off to them. Donating to democrats or environmental causes result in targetted loopholes that allow certain companies to escape oppressive tax increases or even profit from environmental credit trading.

One of the things linked to profit is corporate brand equity (in other words the sum of positive and negative feelings you experience when you think of a brand). The more positive you feel about a brand, the more likely to are to buy its goods or services.

As you yourself point out at the end of your article, one of the things that affects perceptions of a brand is where it places its ads. When a show, paper, or radio station broadcasts something that sparks strong negative feelings in the public, companies are going to jump ship regardless of whether they support or oppose the view being criticized.

A good contemporary example is the Don Imus debaucle. He had been saying outrageous and often racist comments for years, but once the general public learned about it all the advertisers left and Imus was fired. Even though ratings probably went up for his program after his comment.

Likewise in the 1950s McCarthy was a national hero for trying to weed out the communists. While the program got high ratings it also sparked public outrage which in turn resulted in advertisers abandoning the program.

Rather than being controlled by a big evil faceless corporate puppet master the media is really controlled in the end by public opinion.


P.S. - Negative emotions have stronger effects on purchasing than positive emotions. This results in the situation where companies will avoid funding even popular shows or ads because a small segment of the population really despises it.

P.P.S. - Also the media has a certain leeway within which they wont spark public outcry and thus lose advertisers. That's why you see thriving conservative and liberal papers. However, most evidence points to a left tilt overall in the media.

Last edited by Royal Assassin3, 13-May-2007 at 15:16.
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(13-May-2007 at 15:32)


Re: Can mainstream media be truly critical?

Originally Posted by Voice of Reason: View Post
Only if they work for a publication supported by advertising revenue.

Some things to note about journalists:-

They are rarely experts in the field they write about. If they were, they would not be writing about it - they would be doing it

They write for money. That means they write what people want to hear. or more accurately what people will buy.

Before anything gets published they have to get it past an editor. His views will have a strong bearing on what gets chosen for publication.

There is safety in numbers. If they follow the herd they cannot be condemned as being wrong when everybody else was right - a death sentence for a journalist.
Mainstream media, almost by definition, are supported by advertising revenue. News media that try to go without them are inevitably banned to the margins. News media don't make the bulk of their money by selling copies of their newspaper or by consumer subscription fees; they make it through advertising. As such, the real product news media are pushing isn't news, but audiences. Their real target aren't audiences, it's other corporations, i.e. corporations that have things to sell to the audiences of news media.

Your other notes about journalists ring all too true, VoR. As such, through the quagmire of personal agendas and systematic censorship, how can the public expect to be truly well informed by taking news from mainstream outlets?

RA3;

"As you yourself point out at the end of your article, one of the things that affects perceptions of a brand is where it places its ads. When a show, paper, or radio station broadcasts something that sparks strong negative feelings in the public, companies are going to jump ship regardless of whether they support or oppose the view being criticized."

You have misread. The example of Ed Murrow is about a SUCCESSFUL show with lots of enthusiastic viewers, which gets axed because the advertisers don't like Murrow's stuff. From a free market standpoint the move doesn't make much sense; why would you pull advertising from a successful and loved show? That's the problem here.

Another example can be quoted from the Manufacture of Consent:

Quote:
From the time of the introduction of press advertising, therefore, working-class and radical papers have been at a serious disadvantage. Their readers have tended to be of modest means, a factor that has always affected advertiser interest. One advertising executive stated in I856 that some journals are poor vehicles because "their readers are not purchasers, and any money thrown upon them is so much thrown away." The same force took a heavy toll of the post-World War II social-democratic press in Great Britain, with the Daily Herald, News Chronicle, and Sunday Citizen failing or absorbed into establishment systems between I960 and I967, despite a collective average daily readership of 9.3 million. As James Curran points out, with 4.7 million readers in its last year, "the Daily Herald actually had almost double the readership of The Times, the Financial Times and the Guardian combined." What is more, surveys showed that its readers "thought more highly of their paper than the regular readers of any other popular newspaper," and "they also read more in their paper than the readers of other popular papers despite being overwhelmingly working class...." The death of the Herald, as well as of the News Chronicle and Sunday Citizen, was in large measure a result of progressive strangulation by lack of advertising support. The Herald, with 8.I percent of national daily circulation, got 3.5 percent of net advertising revenue; the Sunday Citizen got one-tenth of the net advertising revenue of the Sunday Times and one-seventh that of the Observer (on a per-thousand-copies basis).
So here again you see a popular news outlet getting axed since the advertisers didn't like it. Regardless of the popularity of the paper itself.

And that, Caelis, is the problem. "Mainstream" becomes "What the people with money want you to know". A critical citizenry and a critical press makes for a healthy society, and advertisers through their actions limit the existence of both.

BTW RA3, McCarthy wasn't seen as a hero. He was feared, and once he started attacking the military and Ike for harbouring communists, the nation had enough of him and ended his witch hunt.

And again, it's not that the media are puppets or being controlled. They're being regulated in a subdued protocological fashion. Though Skillz's article suggests that advertisers indeed do try to actively control news output, this interference is not necessary for the system to work. The simple fact that a person with 'unsuitable ideas' won't be able to find a job in mainstream media unless he or she reports within desired parameters only suggests that the passive element of regulation is far more powerful than any active component of corporate imposed puppeteering.

"Observers worldwide have been expressing great pity for the people of Gaza [...] This pity may be a natural emotional reaction, yet it is unethical and immoral." - Adi Dvir, Ynetnews editor
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(13-May-2007 at 15:51)


Re: Can mainstream media be truly critical?

Originally Posted by Peppie: View Post
And that, Caelis, is the problem. "Mainstream" becomes "What the people with money want you to know".
Regardless of my dislike of capitalism, I think that you're being a little to paranoid about this. As RA3 said, most companies really don't care one bit about what you know, as long as it doesn't cost them money. Surely, individual companies have an interest in influencing news, but it rarely happens that advertisers as a whole benefit from corrupting the news. Healthy papers and other news recourses do not depend on one big advertiser. They will only be stopped in publishing what they wanted to publish in the first place if a vast percentage of their advertisers dislikes the message. And that rarely happens.

When the news is being influenced, it's far more likely that a government is doing it then an advertiser.

Modern world I'm not pleased to meet you

You just bring me down
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(13-May-2007 at 16:23)


Re: Can mainstream media be truly critical?

Originally Posted by Caelis666: View Post
Regardless of my dislike of capitalism, I think that you're being a little to paranoid about this. As RA3 said, most companies really don't care one bit about what you know, as long as it doesn't cost them money. Surely, individual companies have an interest in influencing news, but it rarely happens that advertisers as a whole benefit from corrupting the news. Healthy papers and other news recourses do not depend on one big advertiser. They will only be stopped in publishing what they wanted to publish in the first place if a vast percentage of their advertisers dislikes the message. And that rarely happens.

When the news is being influenced, it's far more likely that a government is doing it then an advertiser.
How then do you explain the case of Ed Murrow? The case of the Daily Herald? The stuff in the article posted by Dusk Illz?

And who said anything about corrupting news? I think you are missing the point here; this is not about active manipulation, but about passive protocological regulation. There is a vast difference between the modus operandi and the effectiveness of the two.

This is a nice read as well to understand the system better.

"Observers worldwide have been expressing great pity for the people of Gaza [...] This pity may be a natural emotional reaction, yet it is unethical and immoral." - Adi Dvir, Ynetnews editor
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(14-May-2007 at 01:38)


Well, the fix is to boot profit and corporations out of the news. I can't even go to CNN.com anymore because all their stories are nothing but video links that force you to watch a commercial first. The BBC doesn't even have adds so I put most trust in it. Things like NPR too.

The news should be free from bias and therefor, immune from public opinion and thin influence of profit.

Mars II - American Scientist
PhD - Physical Chemistry
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(14-May-2007 at 09:07)


advertisers that own news corporations, and the reports, will always show news that will sell the most or that has the biggest impact.

so there will never be a media that is free, and if they are they wont have the ability to publish and present to as large an audience.

if you arent selling a story that will gain an audience you arent going to get paid, based on the system of paying per word published. which will lead to a media that is vying with each other to make a bigger splash.

as far as manipulation... the media doesnt need external aid they do well enough without it.

~Blade Master~
*yawn*
your flaming skills are getting crap now...
~my comments come from me and only me unless otherwise stated. so dont bring alliances into it.
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(14-May-2007 at 12:57)


Originally Posted by Peppie:
Mainstream media, almost by definition, are supported by advertising revenue. News media that try to go without them are inevitably banned to the margins. News media don't make the bulk of their money by selling copies of their newspaper or by consumer subscription fees; they make it through advertising. As such, the real product news media are pushing isn't news, but audiences. Their real target aren't audiences, it's other corporations, i.e. corporations that have things to sell to the audiences of news media.
It depends what you mean by mainstream media. If we are talking about news media - which from the context I thought we were - then a considerable portion of it is state owned. Without searching I can list UK, Canada, Australia, Singapore, China, Russia, Nigeria, and Uganda as countries with state owned news media.


Originally Posted by Peppie:
As such, through the quagmire of personal agendas and systematic censorship, how can the public expect to be truly well informed by taking news from mainstream outlets?
I tend to use Reuters, AF, and AFP rather than on-line publications. My reasoning is that the less people who modify it the better.

Don't ignore foreign papers. Foreign language newspapers are sometimes available on-line in English, and though they are no less biased than English language press they do at least give a different viewpoint.

Blogs. These are probably the most biased of all, and useless in isolation, but at least they are all biased in different directions!

Do all this, weight evidence, and then make up your own mind.

Slightly connected with this is a comment by, from memory, Jacques Derrida - no time to check!

He argued that all opinions are made emotionally and spontaneously. If the facts lead to one conclusion, there is no choice and therefore no opinion. If the facts lead to multiple conclusions, then the only way to choose is emotionally and spontaneously - you choose the conclusion you like the best.


Originally Posted by Caelis666:
Surely, individual companies have an interest in influencing news, but it rarely happens that advertisers as a whole benefit from corrupting the news. Healthy papers and other news recourses do not depend on one big advertiser.
You are jumping from one extreme to the other. It is not single companies, unless they are very large or multis, nor advertisers as a whole, that cause the problems. It is industries. If a story damages, for example, one car manufacturer it will damage ALL car manufacturers. If it damages one paint manufacturer it will damage ALL paint manufacturers. If they ALL pull their advertising, then the editor has serious problems. It is not just the revenue: it is also explaining it to the owners and the problem of lost news sources. If every paper in town is running stories about, say, a mining accident but you aren't because you pissed them off and they have cut you out of the loop, then your paper has lost a lot of money, a lot of reputation, and you have quite probably lost your job.


Originally Posted by Caelis666:
They will only be stopped in publishing what they wanted to publish in the first place if a vast percentage of their advertisers dislikes the message. And that rarely happens.
That is quite a naive viewpoint. It is not the number of advertisers that matters, it is the amount of money they spend. A newspaper is not going to be too bothered about upsetting a corner shop, or even upsetting 20 corner shops, but they will not do anything to upset somebody who takes out a full page spread in every issue - they can't afford to. The top spenders in any news paper virtually own it, and have a lot more influence on editorial decisions than the British government has over the BBC. I can't speak for other countries with state owned news media.

"Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." But let it be considered that he did not mean a real and generous love of our country, but that pretended patriotism which so many, in all ages and countries, have made a cloak of self- interest.
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(14-May-2007 at 17:20)


Originally Posted by VoR:
Blogs. These are probably the most biased of all, and useless in isolation, but at least they are all biased in different directions!
While I can not argue with you about most blogs being simply conduits for the owners biases, it should be pointed out not all blogs are inherently skewed due to prejudice, and even those with a bias, if properly composed, will provide the means to view the opposing view by posting of links.
Just like the newspapers there can be some blogs that are striving to present a fair and accurate picture of what is transpiring. While they are obviously motivated by a sense of duty and are created to address a set of problems, they do attempt to bring accountability to those who would slip past the news media.
Blackbox Voting has been instrumental in ferreting out problems and indiscrepancies in the electronic voting machines; Crooks and Liars has been able to establish accountability in published and recorded media; Raw Story has provided valuable information on Iraq and Afghanistan. Personal Blogs have also allowed us to see changes within countries; one of the best examples is Baghdad Burning, written by a young Sunni woman in Baghdad itself.
Talking Points Memo and BradBlog have both covered breaking stories and provided a more thorough coverage than Mainstream media could, usually able to post links to the original transcripts of hearings or official papers. They have been given press passes to report on Atorney Gate scandals and the Scooter Libby trial.
Mnay other blogs provide the URL's of their stories, much of which is either ignored by mainstream media or simply provides a more in depth look at the story in question. The ability to look at what different news services report pertaining to the same news is invaluable, especially as it is not possible for a single person to research every story in depth through a perusal of all available sites. The best sites even though they are commentary will provide links to the site(s) they are refuting, so you are able to read both sides of the issue. (it should be said that if you are reading the blog, you likely already share some of the prejudices of the blog writer)
While I agree most blogs are valueless as far as actually newsworthy places for info, as opposed to opinions, there are several really good useful blogs that serve the same function as newspapers, to bring news to those who look for it.

Quote:
I tend to use Reuters, AF, and AFP rather than on-line publications. My reasoning is that the less people who modify it the better.
I agree these are the best sources for story accuracy as far as first person reports go.

Quote:
Don't ignore foreign papers. Foreign language newspapers are sometimes available on-line in English, and though they are no less biased than English language press they do at least give a different viewpoint.
Again, much like blogs there are foreign language papers that are reputable, although even here bias does come in. An interesting fact is that certain countries have papers that are more critical of government practices than foreign papers seemto be.

Quote:
If every paper in town is running stories about, say, a mining accident but you aren't because you pissed them off and they have cut you out of the loop, then your paper has lost a lot of money, a lot of reputation, and you have quite probably lost your job.
I can not agree more. The ability to sustain reportability provides the means for certain institutions to leverage news into a more palatable form.

“The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.”
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(15-May-2007 at 01:55)


it is all true what you say; diversify your news sources, follow up through links, consult Reuters or AP or foreign press or trustworthy blogs.

...it's just that these aren't the mainstream media. Foreign news sources are mainstream for OTHER people, but not for you. The point is, if you stick only to your own main newsmedia - that is, one or two favourite major newspapers and one or two favourite TV news reports - you are basically screwed for dependable journalism due to the corporate stranglehold on these outlets.

As such, a citizen must make a mighty effort - finding and browsing many (obscure) sources - to maintain informed. It's awesome that its possible nowadays, but face it, it's not what the vast majority does and it doesn't solve the problem, it only circumvents it.

Also, one needs to consider that SOME subjects are taboo across the board. You will not find many people in the Western press, whether it's the Netherlands or the UK or the US, to condemn Israel for human rights violations and openly support the Palestinian people. That's just 'not done' in Western societies. Not in the mainstream...

"Observers worldwide have been expressing great pity for the people of Gaza [...] This pity may be a natural emotional reaction, yet it is unethical and immoral." - Adi Dvir, Ynetnews editor
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(15-May-2007 at 02:26)


Originally Posted by PEPPIE:
As such, a citizen must make a mighty effort - finding and browsing many (obscure) sources - to maintain informed. It's awesome that its possible nowadays, but face it, it's not what the vast majority does and it doesn't solve the problem, it only circumvents it.
Yet as VoR says one must understand and be aware that many independent sites are biased and only represent one side of any argument or story. Relying too strongly on sites that are outside the actual professional reporting sites, is risky and likely to lead one astray, unless they can provide additional infrormation that can be verified through reputable sites, or individuals.

“The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.”
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(15-May-2007 at 10:22)


Quote:
While I can not argue with you about most blogs being simply conduits for the owners biases, it should be pointed out not all blogs are inherently skewed due to prejudice, and even those with a bias, if properly composed, will provide the means to view the opposing view by posting of links.
Just like the newspapers there can be some blogs that are striving to present a fair and accurate picture of what is transpiring.
Blogs are inherently skewed and prejudiced.

In fact, everything that is spoken or written is inherently skewed and prejudiced, because somebody, somewhere, has made decisions about what are main points and what are subsidiary, what facts to present and what facts to ignore, and what register of language to use. It is impossible not to have bias: even a list of indisputable facts has bias because somebody chooses what facts to show you.

Blogs are more biased because they are a one-man show. No sub or editor is going to question it, no fact-checker is going to confirm it, and nobody is going to press for an alternative view to be presented. The only saving grace is, as I said, that the bias is more random than in professional publications.


Quote:
As such, a citizen must make a mighty effort - finding and browsing many (obscure) sources - to maintain informed. It's awesome that its possible nowadays, but face it, it's not what the vast majority does and it doesn't solve the problem, it only circumvents it.
It is not that difficult: an RSS feed to your homepage is usually possible, all you have to do is find the time to read it all...

"Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." But let it be considered that he did not mean a real and generous love of our country, but that pretended patriotism which so many, in all ages and countries, have made a cloak of self- interest.
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(15-May-2007 at 11:20)


Re: Can mainstream media be truly critical?

Originally Posted by Voice of Reason: View Post
Blogs are inherently skewed and prejudiced.

[...]

Blogs are more biased because they are a one-man show. No sub or editor is going to question it, no fact-checker is going to confirm it, and nobody is going to press for an alternative view to be presented. The only saving grace is, as I said, that the bias is more random than in professional publications.
Being a new media student and having had two extensive courses on blogs i feel i do need to correct you here. Blogs are often collaborative (Huffington Post) and are sometimes started by actual journalists. They can be 'fox newsy' or they can attempt to practice professional journalism. On top of that, blog readership often hounds bloggers for mistakes they make, forcing them to edit and correct their posts. In fact, blogs are by no means inherently inferior than mainstream news outlets. Fox news for instance pretends to practice journalism (reinforcing this pretending with catchy slogans) and some other media are actually trying to copy them since they're so successful. I'm sure youve seen OutFoxed.

Everything is biased, all news is selected, but there's still a thing such as responsible journalism. The key is that there should be no censorship, no taboos, no subjects the journalist shouldn't be able to address. Everything should be able to be examined. Since news media are corporations making a profit through selling audiences to other corporations, those other corporations are the customer; not the public. And the news media will try to please their main customer, not the public. So it's unthinkable that in the mainstream news you will find a special report or an indepth casestudy on the 9/11 truth movement, on Israeli oppression and sympathy for the Palestinians, on a detailed account of US involvement with Saddam Hussein during the 80s, or an insightful investigation into "why they hate us" and so forth.

If it wasn't for the internet people would have no clue at all about these things. The internet seems to be the main route of escape from the same old song the "liberal news media" are singing. But that's not mainstream. We shouldn't have to dodge our mainstream media in order to get informed. This system needs changing, and the first step is to realize and acknowledge that there's a problem.

"Observers worldwide have been expressing great pity for the people of Gaza [...] This pity may be a natural emotional reaction, yet it is unethical and immoral." - Adi Dvir, Ynetnews editor
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(15-May-2007 at 16:14)


Quote:
Being a new media student and having had two extensive courses on blogs i feel i do need to correct you here. Blogs are often collaborative (Huffington Post) and are sometimes started by actual journalists.
Being somebody who works in the media, I would argue that a collaborative effort is by definition not a blog, it has become on-line media

Main Entry: blog
Part of Speech: n
Definition: an online diary; a personal chronological log of thoughts published on a Web page; also called [Weblog], [Web log]
Example: Typically updated daily, blogs often reflect the personality of the author.
Etymology: shortened form of Weblog
Usage: blog, blogged, blogging v, blogger n


Quote:
In fact, blogs are by no means inherently inferior than mainstream news outlets.
You really need to define terms here: inferior in what way? Blogs have some advantages and some disadvantages, so it really depends on what you want to get out of it.

I would trust the factual accuracy of mainstream media more, on the simple basis that they have a lot more to lose. That plus experience. I have found many factual errors in blogs.


Quote:
The key is that there should be no censorship, no taboos, no subjects the journalist shouldn't be able to address. Everything should be able to be examined.
That is a political issue rather than a journalistic issue, and it will never happen in practice.


Quote:
Since news media are corporations making a profit through selling audiences to other corporations, those other corporations are the customer; not the public. And the news media will try to please their main customer, not the public.
Newspapers are bought by the public, not corporations. TVs are watched by the public. I have a role as editor for a small scale life -style magazine, and I can assure you it is the public we sell to - or a particular segment of the public. I know their income, I know where they eat, I know where they go on holiday and what cars they drive - I need this to pitch writing style and advertising at them. Corporations are 100% NOT my customer.

This is not unusual. I can more or less guarantee that if you ask a freelance journalist or writer he will say that, like me, the first thing he looks at when he picks up a publication is the advertisers - it tells him a lot about the target (public) audience.

"Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." But let it be considered that he did not mean a real and generous love of our country, but that pretended patriotism which so many, in all ages and countries, have made a cloak of self- interest.
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(15-May-2007 at 21:36)


Re: Can mainstream media be truly critical?

Originally Posted by Voice of Reason: View Post
Being somebody who works in the media, I would argue that a collaborative effort is by definition not a blog, it has become on-line media

Main Entry: blog
Part of Speech: n
Definition: an online diary; a personal chronological log of thoughts published on a Web page; also called [Weblog], [Web log]
Example: Typically updated daily, blogs often reflect the personality of the author.
Etymology: shortened form of Weblog
Usage: blog, blogged, blogging v, blogger n

You really need to define terms here: inferior in what way? Blogs have some advantages and some disadvantages, so it really depends on what you want to get out of it.

I would trust the factual accuracy of mainstream media more, on the simple basis that they have a lot more to lose. That plus experience. I have found many factual errors in blogs.

That is a political issue rather than a journalistic issue, and it will never happen in practice.

Newspapers are bought by the public, not corporations. TVs are watched by the public. I have a role as editor for a small scale life -style magazine, and I can assure you it is the public we sell to - or a particular segment of the public. I know their income, I know where they eat, I know where they go on holiday and what cars they drive - I need this to pitch writing style and advertising at them. Corporations are 100% NOT my customer.

This is not unusual. I can more or less guarantee that if you ask a freelance journalist or writer he will say that, like me, the first thing he looks at when he picks up a publication is the advertisers - it tells him a lot about the target (public) audience.
A blog is NOT an online diary, but an online diary is a blog. A blog is a website which has entries in a reverse chronological order. A blog is a form, and diary stuff/news commentary/information updates are functions that can fit that form. I have a host of professors to back me up on this, alright? :P

And yeah, blogs are also online media. It doesn't take much for any public thing online to become an online medium.

I would say; blogs are not INHERENTLY inferior to mainstream media in the sense that their information is less dependable. Bloggers who (repeatedly) make mistakes quickly drop to the bottom of the barrel. I am mainly talking about the big political blogs here, the ones that have hundreds of thousands of readers. They have a similar journalistic responsibility as the mainstream media, but they are less or not at all regulated by corporate powers and therefore are more free to discuss a variety of subjects the mainstream will not touch.

Of course, in class we have also discussed the fact that many top bloggers have been approached by corporations, and that corporations try to start their own blogs. This is because blogs, UNLIKE the mainstream media, emit a newfound sense of authenticity and honesty, which corporations want to cash into. As such, anyone who 'sells out' or attempts to fake authenticity is quickly slaughtered by the blogosphere.

A critique of course is that MANY bloggers comment on current affairs rather than report it, and they generally comment on things from the mainstream media. However, much like yourself and filcher, bloggers generally peruse myriad news sources as well, to add to their credibility. Blogs do not have foreign correspondents, so they have to stick to AP, Reuters and foreign press reports as well. It's just that their subject range is more open and they can select news that the mainstream dodges.

---

The sale of newspapers doesn't bring in the lion share of its revenue. Hell, in Dutchland we have FREE newspapers (three of them!) which are distributed through our heavily used railroad system, presumably running on ad revenue alone.
Of course, traditional media outlets cannot produce overly blatant propaganda or obvious misleading reports, but again, there is NO penalty for not reporting on a huge meeting of South American leaders or not reporting on Israel using Apaches to attack civilian apartment complexes in Netzarim. Because of the powerful position corporations hold, certain stuff simply isn't talked about. That's bad, regardless of political affiliation, biases or agendas.

P.S. Small scale lifestyle magazines != mainstream media.

"Observers worldwide have been expressing great pity for the people of Gaza [...] This pity may be a natural emotional reaction, yet it is unethical and immoral." - Adi Dvir, Ynetnews editor
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(17-May-2007 at 10:43)


Quote:
A blog is NOT an online diary, but an online diary is a blog. A blog is a website which has entries in a reverse chronological order. A blog is a form, and diary stuff/news commentary/information updates are functions that can fit that form. I have a host of professors to back me up on this, alright? :P
Then your professors are misleading, or not fully informing, you, or you are missing something they said. What you are giving looks like a purely technical definition, which would also apply to a wiki by the way, and is lacking the personal aspect that differentiates a blog from an on-line publication. Look here to see that I am not just making shit up.

'Blogs generally represent the personality of the author'
'A blog is basically a journal that is available on the web.'
'An online Journal.'
' a frequent and chronological publication of comments and thoughts on the web'
'normally reflecting the views of the blog's creator.'
'contains all information that the person maintaining the BLOG (Blogger) wishes to share with the world'

and so on, all the way down. Blogs are personal, which is exactly why they are more biased than a publication, and if your professors are not telling you that you should really ask them why.

You may argue about how many contributors a blog can have before it becomes a publication, but in any sensible opinion has to be small enough to maintain the personal opinion aspect.


Quote:
I would say; blogs are not INHERENTLY inferior to mainstream media in the sense that their information is less dependable.
Blogs don't have professional reporters available for first hand reporting. Blogs don't have researchers searching out background information. Blogs don't have fact-checkers ensuring accuracy.

If I had a choice between believing the BBC and believing some blogger, I would go with the BBC every time. What would you do?


Quote:
The sale of newspapers doesn't bring in the lion share of its revenue.
I never said it did. I said that the subjects of the marketing are the public. They are the final destination of any publication. If you don't believe that, explain how any publication is going to survive on a zero readership.


Quote:
Hell, in Dutchland we have FREE newspapers (three of them!) which are distributed through our heavily used railroad system, presumably running on ad revenue alone.
Which proves my point. Why do the advertisers pay for that advertising? Because the publication is distributed to the public. The adverts will be seen by the public. The advertisers want access to the public. They decide which publication to use by how many copies are sold to the public.


Quote:
P.S. Small scale lifestyle magazines != mainstream media.
I didn't say it was, but small scale is only large scale writ small. The principles are the same - increase circulation or die. That means aiming at sales to the public, because advertising revenue is a reflection of circulation.

"Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." But let it be considered that he did not mean a real and generous love of our country, but that pretended patriotism which so many, in all ages and countries, have made a cloak of self- interest.
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