Debate: Ways to overcome bias in media

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Re: Debate: Ways to overcome bias in media

Postby Justinrs2 » 08 May 2021, 17:42

I don't really appreciate this John Oliver slander, comparing him to Tucker Carlson of all people. Oliver is extremely biased, and he makes no secret of that. Nonetheless, he has done a lot of good investigative journalism, more than most news organizations nowadays do. He's tackled issues in agriculture and health that no one else is covering, and he doesn't lie for views. I would actually hold him up as an example of how news organizations and journalists can be extremely biased but still do a good job reporting the news.
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Re: Debate: Ways to overcome bias in media

Postby with_an_h » 08 May 2021, 21:52

Agreed that Tucker Carlson is an order of magnitude more deceitful than Oliver (not my intent to equivocate between them here), for the reasons you've listed. My problem with Oliver is that he tends to be a bit disingenuous with how he represents the opposing view (although, once again, to a lesser extent than some other commentators). He presents one particular viewpoint that is sort of constructed conveniently for him to take down (pretty typical thing to do in philosophy/abstract fields, but I expect more detail when it comes to the concrete issues he presents), but it usually appears to based in his worldview of what the opposing argument would be (so maybe this is just a sign of the epistemological break or the circles he runs in). Pretty small criticism compared to outright lies. I do get the sense that he would respond with evidence-based arguments to evidence-based pushback more so than Carlson.

What I'm really going for is that news should not have entertainment value (which is one of the qualities I have seen in things like BBC/PBS/some local outlets). That's what rubs me most wrongly about people I consider commentators, how they appeal so blatantly to emotion rather than presenting the facts.

In the context of my original proposal, entertainment value introduces "noise" which needs to be filtered out for reaching an understanding of the state of an issue, which taking in multiple sources helps with a bit.

Lastly, I'd appreciate refraining from accusing anyone of slander before asking for clarification. Please assume best intent. I try to do so for others until proven otherwise, and I expect that of others.
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Re: Debate: Ways to overcome bias in media

Postby schocker » 10 May 2021, 00:14

Point of fact.... Tucker Carlson isn't a journalist. He is an commentator as is Chris Cuomo. That isn't the problem it is when the journalists claim to be news reporters and then spew propaganda.
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Re: Debate: Ways to overcome bias in media

Postby with_an_h » 11 May 2021, 22:52

Found this twitter bot that highlights edits to headlines/urls of articles in the NYT. Some of the more recent examples show the media bias relating to what's going on in Jerusalem. I've been thinking about this discussion when seeing those headlines. Crazy how blatant it is. I also came across a pdf doc by Frank Luntz that had tips for messaging for Israeli government officials to optimize the headlines. Can't find it again, but will share if I do. He has books about choosing words carefully so that the audience hears a positively spun message - that's basically the gist of the doc.

https://twitter.com/nyt_diff

@schnocker, my previous post specifies that they are opinion commentators. It seems you may have missed that sentence (pretty easy to do since I posted a large block of text).
... opinion commentators are actively harmful to media credibility with how they have become the preferred source of "news" (read: entertainment). I'm thinking of people like the election night panels on the new networks or Tucker Carlson/John Oliver.


They are part of the problem, because people get more of their news from opinion commentators than from journalists these days. Any solution to journalistic bias issues will require changes to how journalists publish news and how the average person consumes news. The hope that I often hear is that if journalists start suddenly publishing non-propagandized news, people will come and read/watch it. This view is sort of naive. Humans tend to have a bias towards information that they agree with. It is too strong to address the problem without also dealing with the fact that opinion commentators are news sources for many people right now.
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Re: Debate: Ways to overcome bias in media

Postby schocker » 12 May 2021, 14:14

With....

I did not see that or missed it. But this begs the question: Do you propose to limit opinion speech? Frankly, I don't have a problem with op-ed programs and articles so long as it is clearly represented as such. Many news organizations embed editorials into their news broadcasts or their articles. I really don't understand why. As far as people getting their news from opinion programs and thinking that Tucker or Cooper are journalists it is a problem. I would think it accounts for much of the political divide in our country. I have no solution.

I do remember when the CEO (Is Zucker the CEO?) of CNN declared that their purpose was to remove Trump I thought why would anybody ever say that who worked in journalism. With that statement, CNN was no longer a news organization but merely a propaganda outlet. I really don't understand how the masks have been dropped and the bias exposed and even celebrated. The professional standards just don't exist and we have seen evidence time and time again from many organizations. I believe it is a failure that endangers our future.
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Re: Debate: Ways to overcome bias in media

Postby V » 12 May 2021, 14:36

“I believe it is a failure that endangers our future.”

Hi again folks, this last comment by schocker made me think & prompted this post, even though it’s a bit of a change of subject. Why?

If valid journalism is dead & become propaganda in the main, eventually this can be acknowledged/accommodated by the people.
Did journalism ever contribute anything important to society, even when it was believable? Is it that important to us that its standards & ethics need to be maintained? Can we not just allow it to become propaganda outlets instead of news outlets?
Then just ignore it, or treat it as poor quality entertainment (which it now is already...)

It’s a fundamental question that I’m not sure of the answer, but if journalism with professional standards dies, do we care?
Many occupations fade into insignificance over time & I suggest journalism is on its way & maybe not a great loss.
If I’m wrong, what does good journalism contribute that is so important to us?
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Re: Debate: Ways to overcome bias in media

Postby with_an_h » 12 May 2021, 20:43

Timely article about the changing newsroom at CNN...
https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/media/cnn-opinionated-emotional-zucker/2021/05/11/5f32eb38-7f92-11eb-81db-b02f0398f49a_story.html

Going to start by citing a source for my previous statement. I was not factually wrong about TV being the main source based on this data, but I did not not look up the exact numbers before claiming that opinion commentators are the main source of news for people. People getting news from social media and/or radio and/or podcasts are also likely, given my experience with those fora, to be consuming opinion news.
Source: https://www.journalism.org/2016/07/07/pathways-to-news/

re: what journalism does for us
People have a need to receive factual information that helps them make decisions about their lives and livelihoods. There are a few ways to do this:
[*] Official statements by governments/organizations, broadcast somehow (limited to existing organizational topics)
[*] Independent news outlets (be they "propaganda" as you say or not)
[*] Social media (inconsistent virality, low quality, emotionally charged information)
[*] Word of mouth (have you ever played a game of telephone? this would be unreliable information)

Of these, only the first two have the potential to provide reliably high quality information. In the best cases, they can consistently do so. But we know from the experience of human history that power corrupts, so the first one is likely to be even more of a propaganda tool (in the sense that governments/companies/orgs don't typically contradict themselves) than the second gone badly. The independence is key.

It's worth noting here that putting "moral" people in charge of the first two is likely to reduce these problems. But it's a rare person who is able to resist incentives to abuse power/control their own biases. The good thing is that when these people come along, they can sometimes raise standards for everyone in the field. We live in a world where people are not perfect, so the independence is an important step for preserving a force that can counteract government narratives. They may not be doing it well across the board, but the ability of the industry to do so has gone up and down.

In summary, people need reliable information to live their lives and independent outlets are the only ones capable of providing it without explicit consolidation of defining "truth" in governments. Professional standards wax and wane over time.

re: opinion speech
I don't propose to legally limit opinion speech. I think any moves in that direction are a slippery slope. "Valid" opinions are based on either facts or experience, but defining concepts like fact and opinion isn't something that is easily done. We tend to be dependent on an innate human understanding that "truth" (as a fuzzy concept) is better than lies.

I'm more in favor of more clearly separating what is intended to be news and what is intended to be commentary, but I think we're moving towards combining them. Any solution is going to require people to seek out views that don't match with their own, and I'm not really sure how we encourage that in the short term. In the long term, we could try to put in a consistent effort to have better media literacy education.

This got a bit philosophical, but interested to hear your thoughts.
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Re: Debate: Ways to overcome bias in media

Postby V » 12 May 2021, 21:58

Thanks for addressing my question regarding of what journalism does for us, that’s considered so important.
Agreed #1 is the staple diet in many countries. #2 is great (& better) if it’s achievable. #’s3&4 of diminished relevance.
I still feel there is another mechanism that means we can “survive” with #1 only, if necessary.
The East Germans survived for decades getting only government propaganda in the communist era. No “independent” press opinion allowed for generations. I doubt many believed a word of it, as demonstrated by the sledge hammers on “the wall” when a glimpse of freedom arrived. They were fed lies, but knew they were lies & responded accordingly.
The current situation, especially considering the dire situation of media ownership being so concentrated, plus government leverage over the “public” outfits (like BBC) is the possible deception that we have “independent” press opinion.
It doesn’t look that independent to me & at least for the East Germans there was no doubt the government was lying. Our current situation allows people to be totally deceived, but swear blind they aren’t being deceived. It’s always “the other guys that are lying”.
At this point, journalism looks in its current state to be potentially more dangerous than having no journalism at all. That’s why I’ve taken to assuming they’re all liars.
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Re: Debate: Ways to overcome bias in media

Postby with_an_h » 13 May 2021, 09:14

East Germans had access to West German radio stations (the technology to block it as happens today in countries like China didn't really exist/wasn't widespread at that time), so they did receive news "independent" of their government. Foreign media often doesn't care (or even understand) the national narratives about certain issues, which often (but not always) makes it a good resource for not-quite biased news.

See the end of this page (not entirely sure the validity of the source, but seems like it's an electronic reprint of a study of East Germany):
http://www.country-data.com/cgi-bin/query/r-5131.html
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Re: Debate: Ways to overcome bias in media

Postby V » 13 May 2021, 11:44

with_an_h wrote:East Germans had access to West German radio stations (the technology to block it as happens today in countries like China didn't really exist/wasn't widespread at that time), so they did receive news "independent" of their government. Foreign media often doesn't care (or even understand) the national narratives about certain issues, which often (but not always) makes it a good resource for not-quite biased news.

See the end of this page (not entirely sure the validity of the source, but seems like it's an electronic reprint of a study of East Germany):
http://www.country-data.com/cgi-bin/query/r-5131.html


Indeed true, East Germans did get information from outside rebutting the internal propaganda nonsense. Good example of the coping mechanism I believe occurs when internal news sources are untrustworthy.
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