Posts tagged Accuracy

The most visible journalism these days — aka the loudest journalism, namely cable news, pop culture blogs, tabloid magazines, TMZ, Buzzfeed, HuffPo, talk radio, etc. — mostly takes the form of opinionated conversation: professional media people discussing current events much like you and your friends might at a crowded lunch table. A side effect of this way of doing journalism is that you rarely hear from anyone who actually is an expert on the subject of interest at any particular time. That approach doesn’t scale; finding and talking to experts is time consuming and experts without axes to grind are boring anyway. So what you get instead are people who are experts at talking about things about which they are inexpert.

The Challenges of Conversational Journalism (via Kottke)

Kottke provides two recent and interesting examples of this inexpertness  and thus, baseless chatter: Manti Te’o’s fake girlfriend and Beyonce’s lip syncing at the inauguration.

On Manti Te’o:

Literally hundreds of thousands of hours of the news media’s time were taken up over the past week discussing whether or not these things occurred, who knew what and when, and so forth. And that’s the appeal, right? Speculation is fun and people want their news to be fun.

But a little expertise is enlightening. Ilana Gershon, an Indiana University assistant professor, spent two and a half years doing fieldwork among Samoan migrants. Manti Te’o is Samoan.In a piece at Culture Digitally, Gershon provides some valuable context to the Te’o hoax.

None of the news stories are commenting on the fact that Manti Te’o is Samoan. The reporters are wondering whether he was truly hoaxed, or whether he was complicit. Why didn’t he ever insist on visiting his girlfriend in person? They had been in touch for four years after all — chatting by Facebook message, texting, calling each other on the phone. How could he not be a bit suspicious? But in wondering all these questions, they never ask what his cultural background might be — what ideas about truth and verification did he learn growing up in a Samoan migrant community, especially one that was so religious (in his case, Mormon)?

So as an ethnographer of Samoan migrants, I want to say that I heard a number of stories that sound almost exactly like Manti Te’o’s story — naïve Christian golden boys who had been fooled by other Samoans pretending to be dewy-eyed innocents. Leukemia was even a theme, I guess Samoan pranksters keep turning to the same diseases over and over again. But I did this fieldwork before Facebook or cell phones, and even before email became all that widespread outside of college circles. All the stories I heard involved husky voices on telephones, and maybe a letter or two.

FJP: Totally interesting. Read on.

The Ebb and Flow of Meta Media

Journalism voyeurs, or, “accuracy crusaders” as Steve Myers describes in his article, are part of a new web-based reading phenomenon. In his article, he discusses pieces of news that are changed or altered before they are published, but only after other writers/readers accept the original version as truth.

Perhaps the most notable example is that of the New York Times article that cited Executive Editor, Jill Abramson, as saying “In my house growing up, The Times substituted for religion.”

In response to editorial changes like this, which, in print journalism, were undetected and arguably trivial, there are now entire sites dedicated to their appearance.

This kind of media transparency lends to credibility, but does it make “inhibit” journalism? At what point do the writer/editor have to retain a certain amount of obscurity to produce a finalized product without criticism? 

H/T: Poynter

Study: Journalists increasingly using social media as news source

I want someone to write a follow on story to this, with the headline or answering the question: How Do Journalists Know You’re A Dog On The Internet?

Dog, Incognito

"The fourth annual Digital Journalism Study, published by the Oriella PR network, polled 478 journalists from 15 countries and found that 47 per cent of them used Twitter as a source, up from just 33 per cent last year. The use of Facebook as a source went up to 35 per cent this year from 25 per cent in 2010… [and] an increasing number of journalists are turning to social media for verification, with a third using Twitter and a quarter Facebook.”

Survey Says: A Collection Of Flawed Fox News Infographics

Writer, environmental researcher and editor Amy Westervelt compiled botched infograhpics from the Fox News archives over on her blog. These would be funny if nobody believed them.

Thanks, @awestervelt