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The good old days of reliable news

Is news more reliable now?

  • Yes, we are better informed now.

  • Same same

  • In the good old days the news was more reliable.


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DrZoidberg

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I have a question. To me it's obvious that the rise of the Internet and the explosion of independent news sources, verifiers and social media has led to a more accurate, but more messy picture of how the world actually looks like. In the pre-Internet days the media narratives were controlled by a couple of media houses. So the possible versions of a story was small and nobody watches the watchmen. So narratives were neat, but horrendously flawed.

My evidence is science reporting. Mainstream journalists reporting on scientific discoveries have always been a disaster. Barely a sliver of truth, in any mainstream article. While technically not lies, so much context left out, that the information in the article is useless and at best incredibly misleading. Which is odd in a world where we most often have direct access to the words of the researchers themselves. Mainstream news, still can't get it right. They clearly care more about getting a punchy story out of it, than they are about informing anyone. I think this has always been true for all news reporting.

Fake news isn't a new thing. The reason the French Revolution went so badly is arguably because people like Jean-Paul Marat would print any and all inflammatory rumour that would help him sell more newspapers. I saw an estimate of that nineteen out of twenty news articles during the revolution was completely made up.

So while mainstream news still is shit, we have plenty of alternative routes to get informed, which means that overall we are better informed now.

A counter argument could be that the amount of information, true and bullshit, is so vast, that it leads to information bubbles making us isolated from any information we already don't believe in. While true, I think this was always the case.

What do you think? Do you agree with me that we're living as close as we ever will get to a utopian paradise of news reporting?
 

TSwizzle

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{snipped}
So while mainstream news still is shit, we have plenty of alternative routes to get informed, which means that overall we are better informed now.
I think it's too difficult to say that overall we are "better" informed than before. We certainly have access to a greater amount of information but the is that information useful and accurate? I think it is increasingly difficult to cut through the bullshit these days as the legacy media fight for clicks on the internet with the tedious clickbait headlines.

What do you think? Do you agree with me that we're living as close as we ever will get to a utopian paradise of news reporting?

No, far from it. MSM news reporting is shit and getting worse. But there are plenty good alternatives to balance it out.
 

rousseau

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I don't think it's necessarily the quality of news that's changed, but the quantity.

When you have an alarming amount of information reaching your senses everyday, and become viscerally connected to every bad thing happening in the world at any given time, versus, say, buying a three page periodical that tells you your friend is running for mayor, that's going to cause fundamental differences in how you see the world.

In the former case you know more information, but your perception of the world may be inaccurate. In the latter case the scope of your awareness is a lot smaller.

When Trump was elected, for example, it caused an absolute frenzy and enormous amount of anxiety, and people were constantly worked up for four years. Outside of (many of) their windows there were probably a few squirrels running by.
 

Jimmy Higgins

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We definitely can be better informed these days. The access to information is insane. Sadly, the access to misinformation and disinformation is also quite high. And people tend towards those they already agree with, lessening the chance for growth for knowledge on a subject.
 

Jimmy Higgins

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{snipped}
So while mainstream news still is shit, we have plenty of alternative routes to get informed, which means that overall we are better informed now.
I think it's too difficult to say that overall we are "better" informed than before. We certainly have access to a greater amount of information but the is that information useful and accurate? I think it is increasingly difficult to cut through the bullshit these days as the legacy media fight for clicks on the internet with the tedious clickbait headlines.
There aren't sites that present all of the news sources, so that isn't true, there is no competition for clicks. So one goes to Fox News or Wash Po or to a website that aggregates angry white people news stories from places like The Daily Mail.
What do you think? Do you agree with me that we're living as close as we ever will get to a utopian paradise of news reporting?
No, far from it. MSM news reporting is shit and getting worse. But there are plenty good alternatives to balance it out.
Yes, when someone uses the term "MSM" you know that they are a level minded person when it comes to reporting quality.
 

Loren Pechtel

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There's more truth out there now. However, there's even more garbage out there.

In the old days we had a reasonable approximation of the truth. Now the truth is out there but innundated in a pile of trash and very hard to identify. In practice the average person is less informed because they find something they agree with and decide it's the truth but don't do the digging to figure out if it really is.
 

steve_bank

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I grew up in the 50s-60s hearing it said you can't believe everything you see in the newspapers.

I looked a 19th century newspapers that are online

Today i is the same as it always has been. TV and Internet make it more accessible

Conservatives claiming liberals are weak on defense goes back to the beginning.

Fake, interpreted, and biased news was always the norm.
 

DrZoidberg

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There's more truth out there now. However, there's even more garbage out there.

In the old days we had a reasonable approximation of the truth. Now the truth is out there but innundated in a pile of trash and very hard to identify. In practice the average person is less informed because they find something they agree with and decide it's the truth but don't do the digging to figure out if it really is.

How can we measure the degree of truth? If you think we had a more reasonable approximation of the truth before, what are you basing it on? I'm not saying you are wrong. I'm just trying to follow your method of deduction.
 

Ford

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I used to work for one of the legacy broadcasting companies, was steeped in "journalistic responsibility" in my college years, and when 9/11 happened, had a front row seat to a broadcast outlet (my employer) dropping everything for that day and saying - in effect - "the shit has hit the fan, we're a public service at heart, and are gonna deliver the news as best as we can.."

That was a brief, shining moment. And it didn't last.

At the end of the day, the "mainstream media" outlets nowadays (and that includes Fox News) are interested in exactly two things: Ratings and Revenue.

It used to be that the legacy media companies had a clear dividing line between their news divisions and the rest of the stuff. CBS (for example) had a ruthlessly journalistic news division that gave the network headaches and didn't make money, but that was the "cost of doing business." You want to have the profitable prime time sitcoms and dramas? You had a responsibility to run 60 Minutes and Mike Wallace pissing people off with pesky "investigative journalism."

That was part of the bargain. When cable "news" came along and was followed by the digital revolutionary thing, the responsibility went out the door. Fox doesn't have any obligation whatsoever to be objective in their "news" division or serve the public interest. All they need to do is generate ratings and revenue, and they are doing that in spades.

Simply put, there is no money in telling people the truth.
 

bilby

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I used to work for one of the legacy broadcasting companies, was steeped in "journalistic responsibility" in my college years, and when 9/11 happened, had a front row seat to a broadcast outlet (my employer) dropping everything for that day and saying - in effect - "the shit has hit the fan, we're a public service at heart, and are gonna deliver the news as best as we can.."

That was a brief, shining moment. And it didn't last.

At the end of the day, the "mainstream media" outlets nowadays (and that includes Fox News) are interested in exactly two things: Ratings and Revenue.

It used to be that the legacy media companies had a clear dividing line between their news divisions and the rest of the stuff. CBS (for example) had a ruthlessly journalistic news division that gave the network headaches and didn't make money, but that was the "cost of doing business." You want to have the profitable prime time sitcoms and dramas? You had a responsibility to run 60 Minutes and Mike Wallace pissing people off with pesky "investigative journalism."

That was part of the bargain. When cable "news" came along and was followed by the digital revolutionary thing, the responsibility went out the door. Fox doesn't have any obligation whatsoever to be objective in their "news" division or serve the public interest. All they need to do is generate ratings and revenue, and they are doing that in spades.

Simply put, there is no money in telling people the truth.
Sure there is - when they want to know stuff in order to make money.

The reliable press is now the finance press. The Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, the Australian Financial Review - their readers demand real information about what's happening, because that affects the value of their readers' investments.

The financial news TV channels presumably are in a similar position. They're selling news, while the 'regular news' bulletins and even the dedicated 'regular news' channels are selling entertainment.

Indeed, entertainment is the death of news. If you want reliable news, look for boring sources. If you suggest watching a particular channel's news shows, and everyone groans and says 'but that channel is so boring!', then you're probably suggesting watching actual news. If people aren't complaining about being bored, you are watching entertainment pretending to be news.
 

Jimmy Higgins

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I used to work for one of the legacy broadcasting companies, was steeped in "journalistic responsibility" in my college years, and when 9/11 happened, had a front row seat to a broadcast outlet (my employer) dropping everything for that day and saying - in effect - "the shit has hit the fan, we're a public service at heart, and are gonna deliver the news as best as we can.."

That was a brief, shining moment. And it didn't last.

At the end of the day, the "mainstream media" outlets nowadays (and that includes Fox News) are interested in exactly two things: Ratings and Revenue.

It used to be that the legacy media companies had a clear dividing line between their news divisions and the rest of the stuff. CBS (for example) had a ruthlessly journalistic news division that gave the network headaches and didn't make money, but that was the "cost of doing business." You want to have the profitable prime time sitcoms and dramas? You had a responsibility to run 60 Minutes and Mike Wallace pissing people off with pesky "investigative journalism."

That was part of the bargain. When cable "news" came along and was followed by the digital revolutionary thing, the responsibility went out the door. Fox doesn't have any obligation whatsoever to be objective in their "news" division or serve the public interest. All they need to do is generate ratings and revenue, and they are doing that in spades.
steve is right.

In the good ole days, way back, Newspapers in the US were tabloids like cable news. The show Chicago touched heavily on that as, the media manipulated or abused public opinion with crime to sell newspapers (in the 1920s). Hearst did likewise with the USS Maine and driving America into a wartime frenzy.

Look at the UK and their print media? It is a crap fest. Has been for a long time. So while Cable news allows for a lot of noise for commentary, the print media wasn't the high bar of journalism in the first half of the 20th Century. And then there are the competing local papers, the Daily News and NY Post, Boston Herald and Boston Globe, where editorial opinion could step in and weigh on the reporting. Going further back, Edgar Allan Poe, among others, would submit "news" stories that were fake... the original fake news, and this is the mid 19th Century.

Via the Internet, we have access to so much information: data, opinions, misinterpretations, disinformation, critical analysis. The trouble is people often aren't trained enough to even be able to parse what is what... and that is when they are even trying to, instead of just seeking sources that reinforce initial conceptions... of which our brain rewards us for spinning stuff into a version that we already believed. We are wired to lie to ourself. That isn't new. And the manipulation of us over it isn't new either.

But today, we've never had more access to more truth and data than ever. Hands down.
 

steve_bank

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I watched a documentary on black basketball narrated by Jabar.

In the good old days newspapers in the 30s, 50s, and50s were outright racist. The word nigger was used without any retriant.

From the documentary a team oner was quoted in the papers 'No nigger is going to lay on my team'.

If nothing else Trump has forced some of the media to do some soul searching on what journalism and ethics mean.

It is not all bad. When I grew up there was never any discussion of racial issues on TV or in print. One very positve thing is a major segemnt of the nedia now has open and free debate about racial issues and social issues in general. Up through the 80s that really did not exist. Just seeing blacks as reporters was a very big deal.

Pre Trump I thought CNN was fairly objective. They got corrupted by Trump and pulled down into the mud in responding to FOX. MSNBC on the left, FOX on the right, and CNN in between. When Al Sharpton went to work at MSNBC he said he would never be critical of Obama. iT was a A long time bfore CNN became critical.

In the 19th century newspapers fostered the legal gold rush onto Native American land.

What you see and how it is presents is always biased. In the 80s I knew the producer of local news show in Portland. I wtched a show. It was pre net so stories came in on a series of Teletypes. Stories were continuously being printed out from wire services. A few peple sorted through the stories and decided which ones to air. It is an inherently biased process.

Without thinking I said out loud 'You are the ones who say what we see.'. Someone looked up and said 'WE take it seriously'.
 

Ford

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I used to work for one of the legacy broadcasting companies, was steeped in "journalistic responsibility" in my college years, and when 9/11 happened, had a front row seat to a broadcast outlet (my employer) dropping everything for that day and saying - in effect - "the shit has hit the fan, we're a public service at heart, and are gonna deliver the news as best as we can.."

That was a brief, shining moment. And it didn't last.

At the end of the day, the "mainstream media" outlets nowadays (and that includes Fox News) are interested in exactly two things: Ratings and Revenue.

It used to be that the legacy media companies had a clear dividing line between their news divisions and the rest of the stuff. CBS (for example) had a ruthlessly journalistic news division that gave the network headaches and didn't make money, but that was the "cost of doing business." You want to have the profitable prime time sitcoms and dramas? You had a responsibility to run 60 Minutes and Mike Wallace pissing people off with pesky "investigative journalism."

That was part of the bargain. When cable "news" came along and was followed by the digital revolutionary thing, the responsibility went out the door. Fox doesn't have any obligation whatsoever to be objective in their "news" division or serve the public interest. All they need to do is generate ratings and revenue, and they are doing that in spades.
steve is right.

In the good ole days, way back, Newspapers in the US were tabloids like cable news. The show Chicago touched heavily on that as, the media manipulated or abused public opinion with crime to sell newspapers (in the 1920s). Hearst did likewise with the USS Maine and driving America into a wartime frenzy.
This makes it seem like news has always been tabloid and there wasn't any change from the days of "yellow journalism" to today's cable news shit-shows.

My memory may be foggy, but it seems like there was an interim period where relatively objective journalism was a thing. Seems to me I remember a couple of intrepid reporters from when I was a young lad who blew the lid off a story that got a US President to resign. A newspaper that exposed the Pentagon Papers. A news network that aired a "Silent Spring" show against the wishes of advertisers that exposed the fact that the stuff we were spraying on crops to kill insects was incredibly toxic to humans as well. A chain-smoking news host taking on a US Senator hell-bent on painting everyone as a "communist" and actually winning. An anchor who signed off with "that's the way it is" every night, and you could trust that it was. More recently, journalists that have exposed abuses by a rather large church that nobody else dared to challenge.

Not every outfit that has "news" in the name nowadays is objective, but there are organizations that are continuing in the tradition of folks like Murrow, Cronkite, and others who felt that they had a responsibility to report the news rather than just pursue ratings and revenue. Pro Publica comes to mind. I even got to spend some time at my local public radio station, and their news department is dead serious about journalistic integrity. I also had a friend who worked as a phone screener for a local right wing talk radio host, and lost his faith in humanity as a result. I try to focus more on the stuff I saw from the reporters at the NPR affiliate.
 

DrZoidberg

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I used to work for one of the legacy broadcasting companies, was steeped in "journalistic responsibility" in my college years, and when 9/11 happened, had a front row seat to a broadcast outlet (my employer) dropping everything for that day and saying - in effect - "the shit has hit the fan, we're a public service at heart, and are gonna deliver the news as best as we can.."

That was a brief, shining moment. And it didn't last.

At the end of the day, the "mainstream media" outlets nowadays (and that includes Fox News) are interested in exactly two things: Ratings and Revenue.

It used to be that the legacy media companies had a clear dividing line between their news divisions and the rest of the stuff. CBS (for example) had a ruthlessly journalistic news division that gave the network headaches and didn't make money, but that was the "cost of doing business." You want to have the profitable prime time sitcoms and dramas? You had a responsibility to run 60 Minutes and Mike Wallace pissing people off with pesky "investigative journalism."

That was part of the bargain. When cable "news" came along and was followed by the digital revolutionary thing, the responsibility went out the door. Fox doesn't have any obligation whatsoever to be objective in their "news" division or serve the public interest. All they need to do is generate ratings and revenue, and they are doing that in spades.
steve is right.

In the good ole days, way back, Newspapers in the US were tabloids like cable news. The show Chicago touched heavily on that as, the media manipulated or abused public opinion with crime to sell newspapers (in the 1920s). Hearst did likewise with the USS Maine and driving America into a wartime frenzy.
This makes it seem like news has always been tabloid and there wasn't any change from the days of "yellow journalism" to today's cable news shit-shows.

My memory may be foggy, but it seems like there was an interim period where relatively objective journalism was a thing. Seems to me I remember a couple of intrepid reporters from when I was a young lad who blew the lid off a story that got a US President to resign. A newspaper that exposed the Pentagon Papers. A news network that aired a "Silent Spring" show against the wishes of advertisers that exposed the fact that the stuff we were spraying on crops to kill insects was incredibly toxic to humans as well. A chain-smoking news host taking on a US Senator hell-bent on painting everyone as a "communist" and actually winning. An anchor who signed off with "that's the way it is" every night, and you could trust that it was. More recently, journalists that have exposed abuses by a rather large church that nobody else dared to challenge.

Not every outfit that has "news" in the name nowadays is objective, but there are organizations that are continuing in the tradition of folks like Murrow, Cronkite, and others who felt that they had a responsibility to report the news rather than just pursue ratings and revenue. Pro Publica comes to mind. I even got to spend some time at my local public radio station, and their news department is dead serious about journalistic integrity. I also had a friend who worked as a phone screener for a local right wing talk radio host, and lost his faith in humanity as a result. I try to focus more on the stuff I saw from the reporters at the NPR affiliate.

In the olden days access to information was severely limited. By anyone. A case in point is the 1911 cholera outbreak in Rome. It coincided with the Italian International Exhibition of Art. The authorities (and the pope) were worried that the outbreak would keep people away (which it should have) and make the organizers lose money. So the (new) Italian secret police managed to completely kill the story. It wasn't reported in any newspaper, in or outside of Italy. Unsuspecting visitors would keep coming to Rome and clearly witness the unfolding disaster. Authorities kept denying anything was out of the ordinary.

If any government would try this today it's 100% the Barbara Streisand effect. Putin in Ukraine for example.


My point is that there were so few reporters back then that collecting and spreading information was very hard. Less than 2% of westerners at all had the education that would give them the basic skills necessary to allow them to write in a newspaper. And these people were all middle-class, writing from a middle-class perspective.

It's easy to appear objective if the available perspectives is severely limited.
The basic facts of life back then meant that information was going to be skewed in unhelpful ways
 

steve_bank

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I would say it is only recently the question of what constitutes objective news is being openly excused.

For every Walter Cronkite there were ten Walter Winchells. You could say Winchell was a precursor to Hannity and commentors on the left as well. Something I did not know until l read te link, Winchell was maybe the original electronic media anti-vaccer. Noting new under the sun.

Winchell's radio shows may be on the net.

Today anybody with a PC and a net connection becomes a Walter Winchell and gets a following.


Walter Winchell (April 7, 1897 – February 20, 1972) was a syndicated American newspaper gossip columnist and radio news commentator. Originally a vaudeville performer, Winchell began his newspaper career as a Broadway reporter, critic and columnist for New York tabloids. He rose to national celebrity in the 1930s with Hearst newspaper chain syndication and a popular radio program. He was known for an innovative style of gossipy staccato news briefs, jokes and Jazz Age slang. Biographer Neal Gabler claimed that his popularity and influence "turned journalism into a form of entertainment."[1]


He uncovered both hard news and embarrassing stories about famous people by exploiting his exceptionally wide circle of contacts, first in the entertainment world and the Prohibition era underworld, then in law enforcement and politics. He was known for trading gossip, sometimes in return for his silence. His outspoken style made him both feared and admired. Novels and movies were based on his wisecracking gossip columnist persona, as early as the play and film Blessed Event in 1932. As World War II approached in the 1930s, he attacked the appeasers of Nazism, then in the 1950s he aligned with Joseph McCarthy in his campaign against communists. He damaged the reputation of Josephine Baker as well as other individuals who had earned his enmity. However, the McCarthy connection in time made him unfashionable, and his style did not adapt well to television news.

He did return to television in 1959 as narrator of the 1920s-set crime drama series The Untouchables.[2] Over the years he appeared in more than two dozen films and television productions as an actor, sometimes playing himself.

Ethical failings​

Winchell became known for his attempts to destroy the careers of his political and personal enemies as his own career progressed, especially after World War II. Favorite tactics were allegations of having ties to Communist organizations and accusations of sexual impropriety.[22] He was not above name-calling; for example, he described New York radio host Barry Gray as "Borey Pink" and a "disk jerk".[23] Winchell heard that Marlen Edwin Pew of the trade journal Editor & Publisher had criticized him as a bad influence on calling him "Marlen Pee-you".[10]

For most of his career, his contracts with newspaper and radio employers required them to hold him harmless from any damages resulting from lawsuits for slander or libel.[24] He unapologetically would publish material told to him in confidence by friends; when confronted over such betrayals, he typically responded, "I know—I'm just a son of a bitch."[10] By the mid-1950s, he was widely seen as arrogant, cruel, and ruthless.[25]

While on an American tour in 1951, Josephine Baker, who would never perform before segregated audiences, criticized the Stork Club's unwritten policy of discouraging black patrons, then scolded Winchell, an old ally, for not rising to her defense. Winchell responded swiftly with a series of harsh public rebukes, including accusations of Communist sympathies.[1] He spurned any attempts by friends to mitigate the heated rhetoric. The ensuing publicity resulted in the termination of Baker's work visa, forcing her to cancel all her engagements and return to France. It was almost a decade before U.S. officials allowed her back into the country. The adverse publicity of this, and similar incidents, undercut his credibility and power.[26]

In his radio and television broadcasts on April 4, 1954, Winchell helped to stoke public fear of the polio vaccine. Winchell said, "Good evening, Mr. and Mrs. America ... and all the ships at sea. Attention everyone. In a few moments I will report on a new polio vaccine claimed to be a polio cure. It may be a killer." Winchell claimed that the U.S. Public Health Services found live polio viruses in seven of ten vaccine batches it tested, reporting, "It killed several monkeys ... the United States Public Health Service will confirm this in about 10 days." Dr. Jonas Salk, developer of the polio vaccine, immediately responded that the vaccine, which had been recently tested on 7,500 school children at the University of Pittsburgh, had been triple tested for the absence of live virus by its manufacturers, the National Institutes of Health, and in his own research lab, and that similar testing would continue to screen out future batches containing live virus.[27]
 
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