Meme/Circa leader Ben Huh gets asked about the truth, speaks honestly
Recently, when asked about whether there should be standards for credibility in the news (and online), Huh made his thoughts very clear —
Huh: I disagree. I totally, absolutely, positively, wholeheartedly, absolutely disagree.
[Adrienne] LaFrance: All right, let’s hear it.
Huh: I think — among entrepreneurs, too — there’s an idealistic notion that there is a truth, a singular one truth. Among journalists, there is “the truth,” slightly liberal, slightly populist, but most of the time it’s “We’re the truth.” If you ask the people who watch Fox News who is credible, they’ll tell you Bill O’Reilly is credible. Maybe I disagree. Maybe I believe that he stretches truths a lot, but the fact of the matter is, it’s human biology to seek out shared perspective.
Creating a singular measure of credibility is a slippery slope to censorship. Like, “Oh, these people are not credible, so maybe we should all act in concert to not print their things,” or discard them. The world’s greatest ideas come from the crazies, the people on the fringe. For a while, they’re not credible, but then one day they are. So that’s a very, very dangerous idea. It smacks of centralized mind-control to me. And I’m probably extrapolating from what he’s saying really to the extreme, and I’m sure there are good ideas, but a universal credibility measure? Even if they could create such a thing, why would you? It’s very Orwellian. I don’t like that idea at all.
Huh went on to say that just stating the facts isn’t a viable alternative, and neither is any facade of objectivity. What’s his solution, then? He doesn’t know yet, but one thing he likes is the blogger spirit.
When asked about who he thinks does it right, Huh said the following:
Well, there’s not a specific person but you saw people debunking the birther movement. You had the newspapers who were just banging their heads against one another but then you had bloggers asking really interesting questions, explaining that, “You know what, this is actually how it works in Hawaii with a birth certificate.”
This is the part about being organic. The future of journalism is going to come in from some place really strange. I don’t think we have technology or the platform or the social consciousness, actually, to recognize that that’s the future of journalism. We think that the future will look linearly similar to today, because for the last 100 years, it kind of did before. But it won’t.
See Huh’s new and uncertain news project, Circa, here.
Photo: John Keatley