Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

News Save Journalism?

  1. Jul 30, 2009 #1

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    http://www.businessandmedia.org/articles/2009/20090729145310.aspx [Broken]

    While I'm not sure what I think about Rather's call for the President to step in, I do agree with his basic concern: The news media is being sold out! In an age of disinformation and amateur journalism, I have grave concerns about how the public arrives at decisions. I see nothing in the free market that drives journalism to excellence. Instead, I believe the free market gives us the likes of Fox News and infotainment. It will sell to emotions and personal biases rather than logic and facts. As we have seen with PBS, there is a market for quality programming, but not enough to compete with popular programming. The problem with journalism is that good journalism is not good business, but it is critical to a Democracy.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 30, 2009 #2

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    The dilution of media quality is certainly a problem (that I will contradict later...), but Rather is showing himself to be somewhat nutty on this issue. There are a couple of huge problems/ironies with this:

    1. The opening line of the article: "As if the relationship between the Obama Administration and the news media weren’t cozy enough already..."
    2. Rather himself was part of the problem. One may even him consider him a pioneer of the type of journalism that Fox and MSNBC make their money from. "Rathergate" is who he was as a journalist.
    3. He wants to preserve democracy via preserving media integrity by creating a government media advisory board? What a vicious cycle of wrongness! The media's sole reason for being an essential component/feature of a healthy democracy is its independence and that's exactly what he seems to want to compromise/regulate. Variability of quality is the double-edged sword of completely free/independent media - you can't have one without the other.
    4. Independent media is dying, long live independent media! What Rather is complaining about is at least half a manifestation of his ego. The rise of Fox and MSNBC and blogs Is "independent media". It isn't a sign of the death of independent media, but of its health. It is simply a manifestation of it adapting to the digital age. Yeah, there's a lot of crap out there, but (4a) that's not a bad thing and (4b) that's not a new thing. The main media excellence award is named for another pioneer of sensationalist media from more than 100 years ago! Profit motivated sensationalist media battles such as Hearst vs Pulitzer and Fox vs MSNBC Are and always have been the defining characteristic of what the media industry Is in a free society! Maybe he's ashamed of his role in this new direction for TV news, maybe he's lamenting the rise of Fox and MSNBC at the expense of his former company and personal reputation, I'm not really sure. Either way, that's his ego telliing him that he helped create today's media environment while it simultaneously damaged his former company and his own personal reputation. Tough luck, Dan, but you try to play that game and sometimes you lose.

    What a tangled mess of Blather he is!
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2009
  4. Jul 31, 2009 #3

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I don't know that has any bearing on what he proposes. This can easily be viewed as a fundamental issue that warrants review. As you know, democracy requires that we have an informed electorate. While I would oppose any government control of the media, I am not necessarily opposed to the government playing a role in analyzing the situation and providing some direction.

    So aside from getting sloppy in his old age and getting duped on one story, what else did he do to deserve that title? He has been a respected newsman and anchor since before you were a twinkle in your mothers eye. It sounds to me like you are quoting Fox News.

    Where did he say regulate? What compromise? What role would the government play? It sounds to me like you have your mind made up before we really know much about it.

    What he said was:

    How do you get to your statement from his; Fox News?

    The problem is the business model: It drives news agencies to sensationalism. For example, the networks used to be willing to carry the losses associated with quality journalism both as a public service, and as a matter of reputation, but that incentive is long gone. Now it is all about profit. There is no room left for philanthropy.

    The problem is not the digital age in and of itself. You know exactly what the problem is because we do battle with it here every day. The age of information has led to the age of disinformation. There is no way to know what to believe without making a career of it.

    In 1969, when Walter Cronkite told us that man had walked on the moon, we all knew it was true. There was no doubt about it. How many people now think it was a hoax?

    If the media were doing its job, we never would have invaded Iraq.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2009
  5. Jul 31, 2009 #4

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    Let's see. 60 Minutes ran a story on unintended acceleration in Audi 5000's, and since they couldn't actually duplicate this effect, they hired someone to modify an Audi to behave in this manner.

    In the William Westmoreland interviews, after he had answered, they reshot the questions and edited the videos. changing the questions he was asked.

    They ran a story about drug smugglers who swallowed heroin in latex gloves, and it was later discovered that the location shooting was faked and the "smugglers" were paid actors. And, in the incident most like the "Rathergate" episode, was the 1997 Rudy Camacho episode. 60 Minutes had aired a story claiming that US Customs supervisor Rudy Camacho was instructing his people to let trucks owned by Mexican drug cartels through. The memo that was the centerpiece of their evidence was a forgery.

    But, as they say, these stories were all "too good to check".
     
  6. Jul 31, 2009 #5
    Fox is sick and I do believe they should be sued for crime against democracy. Playing with journalism as they do is not acceptable. They have no ethics.
     
  7. Jul 31, 2009 #6

    mheslep

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Talk Radio and Fox are almost entirely an entirely a creature of and response to left wing bias in the traditional media. Even the supposed pure news outlets like the Associate Press are rife with opines instead of facts. That's why the reverse plays of leftist radio don't work, they have nothing to talk about. If you want a topical comparison of Rather and Cronkite, see the 1988 interview with then VP HW Bush. Cronkite wasn't averse to being aggressive, but he never would have resorted to the one sidedness and attempted gotcha tactics displayed there.
     
  8. Jul 31, 2009 #7

    mgb_phys

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Looks like it's time for the BBC World Service to launch an American language service.
     
  9. Jul 31, 2009 #8
    LOL, good luck with that.
     
  10. Jul 31, 2009 #9
    We can sue organizations for being undemocratic in a democratic society? :rofl:
     
  11. Jul 31, 2009 #10

    mgb_phys

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Some countries do have laws against 'false news'. You generaly have to prove some malicous intent, like trying to start a riot by claiming that someone is giving away free goods/money in downtown. It's also been used against holocaust deniers.

    You might have a chance with the SEC if you could show deliberate attempts to use a news program to manipulate stock prices. But simple commercial bias, eg. a story against the iPhone because the news channel's owner competes with AT+T is fair game, even apparently if it contains blatant lies.
     
  12. Jul 31, 2009 #11

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    It's vague enough I guess we can draw our own conclusions about what it means, but where is that default mistrust of government that you usually have? I don't trust him, I don't trust his idea, and I don't trust the government to provide any "direction" to the media. The FCC is screwed up enough as it is.
    Well there weren't any quotes in my post, but beyond what was already said, toward the end, Rather was infusing his regular newscasts with more and more biased commentary (start with the wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dan_Rather#Claims_of_bias ). Dan Rather was 73 when he got fired. You tell me: is that old enough to be "sloppy in his old age"?

    Unless he has some undiagnosed age related illness, what I saw was him being empowered by his position to speak his mind more instead of just reading from his teleprompter. Now 60 Minutes is a news magazine - it doesn't have the same implied standard of quality that regular news reports have, so his only-slightly-veiled bias in his anchor work is of far more concern to me. "Rathergate" was him getting his hand caught in the cookie jar, but he'd been snooping about the kitchen for decades before it.
    "advisory board" = "commission". It's a pretty obvious and straightforward paraphrase.
    Since you know I don't watch Fox News, I guess what you are saying is you want me to bring back my liberal usage of the word "hippie"?
    Indeed it does - and it has for hundreds of years. It isn't a new or even a big problem.
    The first 50 years or so of tv news was a weird time and I agree it had reasonably high quality content. Perhaps that was due to early competition between TV and radio and newspapers. Now that the newspapers are dying, TV can follow in the path that newspapers laid out for them 100 years ago and battle each other for sensationalism-based ratings. Rather certainly knows the history - he's just a hypocrite.
    Certainly - the age of information means information is spread more easily than before, by anyone who has a little bit of web authoring skill. The same was not true for newspapers, for which you at least needed to own a printing press. The barrier to entry was larger.

    I do disagree with that last line, though. Most people can't tell the difference between good and bad, but I consider that more due to laziness than anything else. The signs of bias and misinformation are not difficult to detect if you just pay attention. But people just don't bother trying. It is much simpler to just read something and accept it, especially when it says what you want to hear. We see that here almost every day too. Entertaining as those threads are, they typically die quickly when the obvious flaw is revealed.

    Either way, one of the most important driving principles behind my ethics/morality/politics is the concept of personal responsibililty. People are responsible for their beliefs. So unless people are flat-out lied to and in a way that wasn't forseeable, they need to take responsibility for overtrusting their news sources.
    Selective memory, Ivan. The moon hoax hoax started pretty immediatly after the moon landings, with the first prominent hoaxster publishing a book in 1974. Perhaps it is bigger today, but I don't know. If it is, that would also be due to selective memory (misunderstanding history) since younger people today just don't always understand what was and wasn't technically possible in 1969-72.
    Dunno. That's not a straightforward issue.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2009
  13. Jul 31, 2009 #12

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Please don't underestimate just how silly and self-contradictory that sounds that a in a democracy based largely on freedom of the press a press outlet should be sued for harming democracy.
     
  14. Jul 31, 2009 #13

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I think we're in agreement, but just to amplify...

    Outlawing holocaust denial wouldn't fly here, but public safety issues are a clear-cut exception to freedom of speech. Straight-up fraud (stock pump-and-dump) too.
     
  15. Jul 31, 2009 #14

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Another irony that I can't believe I missed before is that the internet blogsphere largely owes it's genesis to Rathergate. Besides the irony that he's complaining about their bad reporting when it was his bad reporting that created them, it also reinforces the personal ego motive that I think drives him.
     
  16. Jul 31, 2009 #15
    It's silly and self-contradictory up to a certain point. There is an acceptable level. Mine seems to be lower than yours.
     
  17. Jul 31, 2009 #16

    turbo

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    There is a great deal of mis-packaging going on the the "news" media in which things that are patently untrue are kept alive. Look at the birther movement and the right-wing talking heads who keep bringing it up as if there is any legitimate question regarding Obama's citizenship. Obama's campaign provided a certified copy of a certificate of live birth from Hawaii, and there were birth announcements in two Honolulu newspapers just after his birth. Is that enough evidence? Apparently not for some wing-nuts, and Lou Dobbs is trying his best to keep them whipped up.
     
  18. Jul 31, 2009 #17
    Dan Rather? Seriously? He's done nothing but spout socialist propaganda his entire career, passing it off as journalism to mislead millions. And of course the people who believe his (and others') lies, fraud, and deception over the decades regard anything other than socialist nonsense as "right wing extremism".

    It's no exaggeration to say that at least a few hundred times I watched Dan Rather just imagining the rectangular grid of round spots on his forehead from the brick I wanted to hit him with.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  19. Jul 31, 2009 #18

    CRGreathouse

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    I am so glad you're not on the Supreme Court.

    I rather like our current system, with the blogs, CNN, ABC, CBS, BBC, and even Fox News. I prefer a broad spectrum of sources, even when some/most/all come with their own biases. Personally I don't listen to TV news often at all, but when I do I prefer BBC (or, failing that, BBC America). Its standards have slipped somewhat over the last decade, but it's still good. But I'll take any failings it has over a nightmarish future with the government and the plutocrats (via the courts and lawyers, respectively) controlling the media.
     
  20. Jul 31, 2009 #19
    I'm so sad people prefer watching low level entertainment claiming to be journalism, to learning with genuine honest investigation. If I were the supreme court, people should pass a qualifying exam to vote.
     
  21. Aug 1, 2009 #20
    Consider the extreme partisanship and politicizing of every issue even including science here in the US. Think about Bush being in office for 8 years. Think of the people who voted for him and the sort of people they vote in as their local representatives and possibly vote in as judges. Do you really think that the government getting involved is a very good idea?
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook




Similar Discussions: Save Journalism?
  1. Journals (Replies: 4)

  2. Save the corals. (Replies: 1)

  3. Save Zimbabwe! (Replies: 50)

  4. These gotta be saved (Replies: 8)

  5. Spend or save? (Replies: 8)

Loading...