This stuff matters when the business involves pissing people off. Don't volunteer to write for this organization unless and until they work out the liability issue.
There's no precise way to measure journalistic credibility - but it's clear they've been hit hard by the trends of technology.
I started forming this opinion on an article that re-hashed the story of Flynn being fired, but in such a poorly edited way with so much bluster that I literally couldn't understand what the actual facts were it was trying to convey. Fortunately, the article linked to the WaPo story it was based on, and I was able to understand from there.
I wish I could find that story now, but unfortunately I couldn't. But I found this one in my browser history, which I think shows the issues I have with it:
The headline is big and blustery, which is why I associate it with clickbait. Then the first paragraph explains: "it has been reported". That is, the Independent isn't doing the primary research itself; it finds other articles and amplifies them. There's a bunch of sites that do this and it frustrate me, since the original article usually is a little more nuanced. The whole game here is to pick an article and make it more juicy.
Compare the headline of the Guardian article which this one is "amplifying":
> British spies were first to spot Trump team's links with Russia. Exclusive: GCHQ is said to have alerted US agencies after becoming aware of contacts in 2015
with the Independent's take on the same story:
> 'Concrete evidence of collusion between Trump team and Russia' handed to official investigation. New evidence comes as sources reveal British spy agency GCHQ played pivotal role in uncovering interactions between US President and Russian operatives
It's the same story. The first paragraph of the Independent article uses the "has been reported" phrasing, and the second links to the Guardian article it's based on.
On top of that, the Independent article itself has boneheaded phrasing like:
> "a source allegedly told the Guardian."
The underlying Guardian article talks about "alleged conversations", but now we get to the Independent, and now on top of that we have "alleged sources"! How far away are we from what really happened here? I mean, I guess I'm glad they're not saying "a source told The Guardian" since they don't really have proof of that, but that's a weird thing to be strict about, and really just indicates how worthless this 2nd hand reporting style is anyway.
So I basically ignore the Independent now whenever I see it come up. I didn't realize they were supposed to be one of the "good" ones.
Is it just me that finds it's amusing that you came to a conclusion based off of feelings and conjecture than hard evidence? You know given the subject matter. Not disputing your points it just tickled me.
Council of Europe includes (almost) the entire Europe (with Belarus and disputed Kosovo currently being the only countries which are not a part of it).
should we expect Britain to join them soon?! Imagine one day Belarus will be more democratic than UK. It's incorrect to say that Britain doesn't have a constitution, they have one, it's non-official manual, you know the one that bears title of a year 33 years ago.
Nobody ever claimed that. In fact, that's the very exact Council that the UK had to notify about its intention to leave the EU.
EDIT: Theresa May did claim that her campaign in 2020 would focus on that. So, they're not leaving it for three years at least.
Similar name, big difference.
Even more fun: there is also the Council of the European Union.
Won't be a campaign in 2020 since she announced a snap election a few weeks ago for June 8th, next likely election is then 2021 unless she just votes her self Leader for Life or something in the interim.
So far as I am aware (I am not an attorney) none of those institutions indemnifies voluntary contributors.
Wow, that liability is enough to keep me from participating.
Where do you get "for-profit" from? They can be a non-profit but still need money. But yeah, they should be explicit about that. Also, volunteers do part of the work.
Well, if so, they have a lot of company: https://goo.gl/zfz0pp
The entire document is all over the web. If it gets off the ground I would expect it to be updated.
This might be the original: http://secureglobalpay.net/site/support-resources/sample-ter...
This seems to want to be just another news outlet, except with a weird business model.
If it was just a link aggregator, now, that could be useful IMO. I don't know of a general solution to finding the best articles (there are usually multiple versions of the same article on the same topic, but some are better than others).
*Substitute any newspaper with high journalistic standards.
Apparently the actual staff of the NY Times are under no illusions about the even-handedness of their own work. And that was written over a decade ago. I'm not sure how you'd objectively define high standards or trustworthiness except in a circular manner.
>> I'm not sure how you'd objectively define high standards or trustworthiness except in a circular manner.
Firstly, the examples of bias in that link you provided don't affect trustworthiness. Second, I'm not sure how you might define those terms, but one way to measure a trustworthy publication would be to ask people if they trust it. In other words, you would be measuring its reputation.
Influential editors burying stories that don't serve their personal political agendas and the like.
Other than the fact that WikiTribune will use actual journalists doing original reporting? Wikinews just summarizes current events.
> suddenly Wikipedia changes the rules to forbid trivia section to boot his for profit offspring
What evidence do you have for this? Conspiracy theorists love making outlandish claims they can't substantiate at all.
Not true. It has original reporting, too.
I wrote an original reporting article for Wikinews once.
Search for trivia eg on this page:
It of course not easy to point to older events with a still working link, when 1) Wikipedia deletes it's own history, 2) Wikipedia and trivia are such common words it's hard to find, 3) even news sites change so much.
> Wikipedia deletes it's own history
Only for copyright violations and offensive vandalism. It never has for anything else, but of course you won't back this claim up either and will make up more excuses.
Conspiracy theorists just dig themselves further and further into a hole, to the point where everything else is also a conspiracy against them getting their "truth" out.
I think the real promise lies in Wikitribune potentially going toe-to-toe with "real news" like CNN or the Washington Post. These outlets also don't always get the facts straight and can't be said to have a diehard following. If a superior option presents itself, readers will follow.
You'd find really salacious headlines: "Hillary Clinton Murder Victim Speaks" and the actual story would be about her fundraising.
They were arbitraging the cost of buying a FB ad (to drive traffic and start the viral loop) against how many ads they could run on the site.
If it uses fully egalitarian participation model, a determined, vocal and ruthless clique would be able to enforce their view with relative ease, by just a) investing more time than others, thus gaining standing in the project and clout to use against opponents and b) just by shouting down the opponents and scaring them off - most people wouldn't care enough to resist an organized clique on some semi-obscure project.
If it uses some kind of "expert panel", it can be attacked by activists, demanding to eject people who hold controversial opinions, or make their life hard until they leave. It can also be selected to be biased from the get go - many academic disciplines and professions have a lot of biases. If in some fields majority of experts hold some opinions, they would also tend to select for agreement with them, thus enforcing the groupthink and completely denying representation to alternative opinion.
Any centralized system would be vulnerable to this. Any single "source of truth" can be subverted.
Months since when, exactly? Most popular fact checkers existed long before the "fake news" meme brought them to newfound attention.
Since they gained widespread popularity as a watchdogs and arbiters over the "regular media". This was long before last US elections which has triggered the "fake news" panic (well, triggered may be not the best word here, "involved" may be better, but I don't want to digress too much).
Well, I realize it's hard for me to give specific times here, mostly because I don't remember neither when exactly I started reading fact-checking sites, nor when exactly I started noticing propaganda showing up. Maybe some of them held for a year or two, and maybe some of them worked in relative obscurity for a while and managed to keep a clean record before they gained popularity that allowed prominent politicians to cite them as a proof, and thus became a target for subversion. And maybe there are others who I didn't know about and who have much better record (bad luck for me).
The underlying point is that what I observed is that once some outlet becomes widely known as arbiter of truth in any political context, and it does not have very strong independent filtering mechanism, propaganda shows up very soon. If it does have one, propaganda shows up too (e.g. there are tons of biased articles on Wikipedia and there is a lot of shoddy and biased research in scientific journals) but a bit slower.
I've seen criticism of Snopes, for example - but apart from one or two examples of cock-ups that they corrected, I've never seen any evidence of subversion - so which sites are you talking about?
But ok, here's an experiment. Not snopes (I have snopes examples too, just requires a bit more time to find).
Bernie says black youth real unemployment is 51% - Politifact says it's mostly true, maybe even over that. Maybe the terminology was a bit off, but the point of high black youth unemployment is correct. Not completely true, but mostly is.
Trump says black youth unemployment is 59% - so Politifact says it's close to true, but probably closer to 51%, right? Trump is close to truth, but maybe exaggerated a little, as is his habit? Nope, Politifact says it's mostly false and the real figure is a third of that. Note how in the first case PF is completely OK with extending unemployment definition but turns rigorously pedantic in the second case and insists unemployment is nothing but the figure published by BLS, and Trump's point - which is exactly the same point as Sanders had! - is total bullshit. How do you like them apples?
Want more? Here's more.
Ron Paul says there was no income taxes until 1913? Half true, there were short-lived efforts to introduce the tax (as if that was the point). Jim Webb says the same? Fact check is now "mostly true". This one was corrected postfactum, because somebody noticed and made fuss out of it.
There are many more examples of PF doing this - spinning the facts depending on who said it. Snopes is doing the same, and more - like taking a factually true statement, finding some retelling that adds a slight exaggeration or twist to it and slapping "mostly false" on it and dedicating most of the article to refuting that slight twist and ignoring the original fact. Because while the initial fact is true, this particular exaggeration or twist is not, so the compound statement is "false" and now the original statement can be reported as "found to be mostly false by factcheckers". Primitive manipulation, but it works.
> Key line: "Obama took GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy and sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China." Romney's wording of this statement in a prior speech was even stronger: "I saw a story today, that one of the great manufacturers in this state, Jeep, now owned by the Italians, is thinking of moving all production to China."
> The claim originated in a Bloomberg News story, which the conservative Washington Examiner construed to mean that Jeep was struggling and considering moving some or all manufacturing from the U.S. to China as a result. When the Romney campaign was questioned about this statement, aides conspicuously stuck to it.
> In an important way it is the opposite of the truth. Between the 2009 bankruptcy filing and 2012, Jeep had robust growth. Its manufacturing in the U.S. was expanding and it was hiring workers. Its overseas sales also picked up, and it was considering re-opening shuttered factories in China. These facilities were not going to replace domestic manufacturing -- they were for making certain models of compact SUVs specifically tailored to the Chinese market, which are impractical to import from the U.S. So the statement, "Jeep is doing poorly and so will move manufacturing to China," is false, while "Jeep is doing well and may resume manufacturing in China," is true. (Furthermore, the deal that left Fiat with a controlling share of Chrysler emerged from talks begun before Obama was president.)
If, for example, some segment of the population starts believing that a presidential candidate is running a child prostitution ring from a DC pizza joint, it isn't "bias" when the media does not afford it equal weight to, say, a joint FBI/NSA/CIA/DJ statement regarding a crime.
- Trump backs away from demand for border wall money
- The State Department is apparently spending money to officially promote Mar-a-Lago
- Trump’s border-wall fantasy is crumbling
- Trump’s White House Family Affair Looks A Lot Like The Most Corrupt Nations In The World
- CNN’s Tapper: US 'shamelessly' advertising Trump's businesses
- Poll: 73% Back Independent Probe of Russian Election Interference
- Anderson Cooper Warns: Don’t Be ‘Desensitized’ By Trump’s ‘Fake Facts’
- Mar-A-Lago removed from State Department blog after ethics outcry
Only one of those items was real news:
- Entire U.S. Senate to go to White House for North Korea briefing
Any real solution needs to make sure that it doesn't devolve to this mess.
On each point:
- Trump was demanding "border wall money" and it was threatening to derail the debate over a budget CR. If he had not caved, the US government would have shut down on Friday. How is that not real news?
- If the State Department is spending money to promote MAr-a-Lago, how is that not corruption? How is corruption not news?
- same as (1). Also, check the URL: wp.com/opinion
- Giving powerful jobs to family members is the definition of nepotism. This is certainly commentary
- same as (2)
- Politicians make decisions based on poll data. Should the public not be told of poll results?
- Yeah, it's an opinion. It's not pretending to be news.
- Same as 2
I don't actually get the complaint. Do you consider everything negative about the President "biased"? What if he dies? Would reporting that be considered "biased", because it could have an impact on his chances of reelection?
I expect, in other words, the Wall Street Journal curated headline list to look different from the New York Times headline list, and likewise for the New York Times headline list to look different from the Economist headline list, and that to look very different from my local city paper headline list.
To me, "unbiased news" therefore does not in practice exist (and most complaints about bias are merely complaining that something exhibits "the wrong" bias.) The only true way of coming close to "unbiased news" is probably via meta-analysis. Humans probably cannot handle this for all articles -- a single person would be overloaded with information.
Realistically, the best you can do is limit yourself to a few select news sources that you find the most trustworthy, or that you care about personally (eg more specialized news sources). There is bias even in that, but as long as your curation isn't in one silo, you are probably more informed than most.
(Maybe machine learning could be used to generate meta-analysis of news items with as little "bias" as possible, however even here there's a strong possibility that the bias of the "trainer" would end up dominating...)
"Bias", such as it is, is entirely in what stories are presented, and the slant given to them.
As another example consider this NYTimes article "Free Market for Education? Economists Generally Don’t Buy It", which refers to a study where 36% Economists surveyed think vouchers would be good, 19% think they would be bad, and 45% are undecided. By lumping together "undecided" and "bad" the article can correctly make the claim "generally don't buy it", but another way of interpreting the data would be "about twice as many economists are pro-voucher as anti-voucher". But that's a headline you'd expect on Fox rather than NYTimes. But both are true!
Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals1 show that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities. In addition, most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position. The following is a partial list of these organizations, along with links to their published statements and a selection of related resources.
The next valid study in (2014) is 87%.
It then throws in a study that includes people who aren't scientists with lower numbers.
Then you have Cook.
Then you have another study with 90% consensus.
Then another two more that includes non-scientists.
Then one with a different question.
Then one with a 100% consensus based on published scientists.
Then another one that includes non-scientists.
The range is from 87% to 100% consensus with 2 of 5 at 97% or greater.
I understand you are trying to argue I'm wrong but the moment you start referencing personal blogs and studies that include non-scientists, you aren't really debunking what I said to any great degree and none of the years overlap sufficiently so its really a charge of a trend of belief over time combined with different methodologies.
100% -> 90% -> 97% -> 87% -> 93.7%
That makes perfect sense given science is always going to uncover new evidence that there was some variation over a 15 year period.
Now imagine a publication that only presents the results of the other 3%.
Also, it is somewhat ironic that you chose doctors as an example, as this is the area where it is common practice to get a second opinion when presented with a material conclusion.
A second opinion doesn't require a 20 person sample size to have a a reasonable chance of landing on someone who shares your views.
There is a reason it is to get a second opinion, not 20 opinions.
The basic problem here isn't the irony you perceive but the fact literally _nothing_ in modern medicine functions if you require 97% consensus.
So your argument is scientists are equivalent to journalists who solely exist to manipulate you?
You are free to stop using a computer, taking medication, and driving a car in that case.
Erm, what? How is that my argument?
> journalists who solely exist to manipulate you?
I don't say they exist "solely" to manipulate - I say they consider manipulating part of allowable and normal behavior, and this should be corrected. Until this is done, the level of trust we allow to a journalist should be much lower than one allowed to a doctor. Because the doctor is supposed to be on your side, and the journalist is not.
> You are free to stop using a computer, taking medication, and driving a car in that case.
You seem to be answering something completely unrelated to my comment in any way. Please don't do that.
We've already solved this problem: Professionalism. Quality professional culture is preferable to pointless nitpicking anyday.
> We've already solved this problem: Professionalism
You say it as if it explains something. But it doesn't - what's "professionalism"? There are a lot of people that are literally paid millions to deliver news, and if you're interested in news (and not, for example, in making fun of the person you disagree with or reinforcing your preconceived notions about people disagreeing with you being evil and stupid) they are doing a spectacularly crappy job. Are they "professionals"? And if not, where does one gets them? Are people that fake scientific data "professionals" (happens all the time)? Are people that make grand political claims based on shoddy research or no research at all "professionals" or not? Where does one get that "quality culture" which would eliminate those common occurrences?
You seem to have an agenda to try and prove that journalism as a vocation is fundamentally broken, and this leads you to make hyperbolic statements and clutch at strawmen.
Take a look a little deeper and you'll see that journalism is a profession with ethical standards and is actually pretty robust and, perhaps, even honourable - it's the funding and business models that are the issue, but the actual practice is quite sound.
I am not observing any evidence of such processes existing. In fact, I am observing exactly the opposite - people freely moving between being political operatives and newspeople, political parties coordinating propaganda campaigns with friendly news anchors, known news personalities being openly hyper-partisan and not being challenged on it in their organization, independent thinking people being forced out (e.g. Sharyl Attkisson) and so on. I don't see any self-criticism going on.
> You seem to have an agenda to try and prove that journalism as a vocation is fundamentally broken
Journalism as a vocation is not broken. Journalists as a practitioners of the profession as it is practiced now are. Yes, there exist professional journalists, who do what they are supposed to do, honestly. Many of them. But now they are going against the stream, and working against the odds. And one has to be blind to not see that situation is getting worse, the trust in media reporting is dropping and the quality of news content coming from major outlets is terrible. You can call it "broken" or you can call it "temporary difficulties which do not influence averages which are still excellent" but its in plain view for everybody to see. And it's not my agenda - there are a lot of people around recognizing the same. Otherwise we wouldn't need special startups to do what journalists were supposed to do.
> you'll see that journalism is a profession with ethical standards
Ideally, yes. However, I don't see these standards being really enforced or even seriously heeded to. Very rarely I see any analysis done on bad reporting, and only in a case the organization was externally caught and called out on it.
Maybe you're right and I am focusing on the visible outliers, but it seems to be that there are too many "outliers"...
No facts there?
Top story on WashPo - https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/white-house-confide...
To me both organizations embody a mediocre beltway mentality that isn't beholden to any one party or caucus. It's a thought process that props up lobbyists and thinktank lickspittles as overnight "experts" on whatever country we're thinking about bombing next. They're the kind of rags that will call Kissinger "a statesman" in his obituary. They present heated debated nestled snugly within the Overton Window to mask a neoliberal consensus. Not a fan at all.
So the fact that they write front page article on some terrorist attack in say France that kills 5 while a similar drone strike on the same day in Afganistan kills 20 and gets buried on page 30 is the point.
Who was is that once said the first casualty in any war is truth? And how many blows did we miss that lead to that first casualty?
Regardless, I see little downside to this and hope it's successful!
Is striving for neutrality something the press should do? Or should it work on clarifying how biased it is, and why?
Bias is fine. Everyone is biased. Journalism in other countries works fine with admission of opinions. Just own your own viewpoints and quit pretending to be some neutral third party.
The important thing is to take the fiction off the table. "Of course we sound like marginally liberal establishment-supporters - we're the NYT." "Naturally we support the revanchists - we're Fox."
(See? My bias is up front.)
The people that say that are generally conservatives (or a subset of conservatives). Liberals generally don't complain about the mainstream media being biased. I'm just pointing out that the idea of the mainstream press being biased and having an agenda is itself biased and has an agenda.
>> so-called mainstream will answer by proposing more fact-checking.
Fact checking is supposed to be automatic. When a mainstream news outlet gets caught reporting false information, it's a big embarrassment. The NY Times had the Jayson Blair incident a few years ago and it really stung. The Times also apologized for over-hyping the Iraq War.
>> Is striving for neutrality something the press should do? Or should it work on clarifying how biased it is, and why?
High quality news outlets already strive to do both. "Honest news" isn't a new idea; it has always been a part of journalistic ethics.
Getting facts wrong constantly is either incompetent journalism or malevolent behavior.
Selecting topics with bias but reporting them accurately creates value for everyone and the bias is rarely malevolent in mainstream media. It just reflects and enforces the world view of the writers and readers.
The fundamental problem that these sites run into is a thorough understanding of issues in the news requires context, and very often not the kind of context that can fit into an 800 word blog post on a subject.
An 800 word blog or article of any sort necessitates that you're going to make choices about which evidence you're going to include, which sources are credible and which sources are not, which sources add to the discussion vs which only serve to obscure. As soon as you do that, you're adding bias.
You can set out to build an 'evidence based' news site, but what you quickly find is that you've built a site with paid journalists (who have their own biases) supported by volunteers (who are the people most likely to have political skin in the game).
The problem is that people want a shortcut for everything - they want an 800 word post that will tell them everything they need to know about Syria. No such thing exists. There's no substitute for actually putting in the work and navigating the bias yourself.
So, in attempt to not be "that guy" that just complains here's what I'd suggest as a start.
- Institutions need to drop their relationship with Facebook et al (The Guardian has just done this ).
- There's a few places (and in the interest of avoiding starting a flame war, I'll forgo naming them explicitly) that parade themselves as "objective" sources of news by telling you they're explaining "complicated" concepts in digestible ways. In my view, that's just a rhetorical tactic to disguise what is actually just advocacy journalism. It's not objective at all, and seeks to form your opinion rather than present you with data from which you form your own. These places need to either be shut down, or pivot back to what we'd traditionally consider actual reporting.
- I consider myself reasonably well read, and read the actual, physical paper daily (when I can, I suppose). There is a distinct difference between the content I see pushed on the internet and what's in the traditional paper and it's this: increasingly articles that belong on the opinion pages are pushed elsewhere, probably because they know it'll generate more clicks elsewhere on the site because it makes either a controversial or marginally supported claim. In my view this directly contributes to the loss of faith people have in the Journalistic profession because it's just so damn easy to point out instances of bias. So, hire some old school editors and fire the "social media" guy and put content where it belongs.
That's just what I can think of off the top of my head right now, but I'm pretty convinced that "crowd-sourcing" is not the answer to this problem.
I don't think social media has much to do with it. I think the confusion between the professions of journalist, entertainer and partisan political operative has much more to do with it.
> If you don't agree just ask yourself how often you visit the masthead of whatever newspaper
Why would it be important if I visit the masthead? That's like saying libraries are in crisis because people don't spend enough time in the lobby. That's not why one visits the library! The frontpage is an utilitarian tool, and if people can do without it, nobody cares.
> These places need to either be shut down
I don't think they should be shut down. If there's an audience for them, why not? Nothing "should be shut down" - if it has no audience, it will die off, it it does have one - it should serve it. The problem here is the audience of "give us facts and let us form opinion" is woefully underserved. This is solved by creating, not shutting down.
> So, hire some old school editors and fire the "social media" guy
Social media guy didn't write that awfully biased article. Some "journalist" did, the social media guy just posted the link on twitter. So why the social media guy should suffer? "Journalists" that do bad job should be called out and shamed, and social media is not where the blame should go. Hard to believe, but twitter can be used for good too, if only people would want to...
In essence, they think the masses are too stupid to be fed bare truth, and need to be put on a carefully selected diet of curated truths, half-truths and sometimes outright lies, in service of a noble goal. I'd like to have the informers back instead.
The masthead is much different than a lobby. It used to be method to signal what was important to know about what's going on in the world right now. Now we get those signals through the algorithms on Facebook. That's a problem.
Shut down might be harsh, but at a minimum they need to drop the pretense of objectivity.
You don't think the quest for clicks has come from the social media side of the house, and that that has influenced both the content and headlines that journalists write? People respond to incentives, and if the flashy and click-baity article is getting pushed journalists will respond with more flashy and click-baity articles.
You are assuming that the person doing NYT frontpage must do a better job, at least in regard to giving me an accurate, complete and informative picture of the world. But what if it's not true? What if that person has an agenda to sway my opinion and bring me to a conclusion that person needs? What if that person's goal is not to inform me but to make me vote for certain candidate or support certain law or hate certain person? Why would I then trust that person and use the frontpage as my gateway to the world?
The signal is only good if it's signaling what I want. But I don't think it's the case nowadays.
> a minimum they need to drop the pretense of objectivity.
They are pretty much already done with it. At least nobody believes such claims anymore.
> You don't think the quest for clicks has come from the social media side of the house
It's certainly not from social media - everybody loves clicks. The thing is, the rise of sites like Snopes or Politifact showed there are clicks in trying to be unbiased and informative too. Maybe a bit less clicks, but there definitely are some. Yet, those clicks do not seem to be all that attractive.
I think it has to do much more with journalistic mindset shifting from duty to inform and disseminate the truth, to some kind of paternalistic mindset of making people form the "right" opinions, where truth that may "mislead" people into a "wrong" opinion is ok to hide, and a falsity that helps the "right" cause is ok to promote. I think it's much more an ideological motive than pecuniary one.
>I think it has to do much more with journalistic mindset shifting from duty to inform and disseminate the truth, to some kind of paternalistic mindset of making people form the "right" opinions...
Yeah that's what I'm getting at by criticizing the "explainers". That's exactly what they do...try to get you to have the right opinions. I'm probably giving people too much credit by only referencing the incentive structures, and ignoring or not acknowledging that they are also ideological motives at play.
But sure, let's talk about social media as another place where news orgs post things.
I'd add that your second point also contributes to loss of faith: When propagandists call their publications journalism, and when other journalists treat them seriously, it brings down the credibility of all journalism. If any quack could call themself a heart surgeon then it would hurt the credibility of real heart surgeons.
Also, when people see their side publishing propaganda, they assume that all journalism is propaganda: One side says this, the other says that, it's all the same (that thinking is an explicit goal of propaganda - not to persuade but to discredit everyone, leaving no source of truth). But it's not the same; truth has real meaning and value, an only liars say 'well, everyone lies'.
I'm afraid here we have a different situation - where heart surgeon behaves as a quack because she thinks it would convince you to do things that she things are right for you. You, of course, can say "well, she's a surgeon, so she always knows better and I should not ever doubt her, even if what she says sounds like complete quackery". But many people are not ready to surrender their autonomy so readily.
Ha! Oh c'mon, anyone who's experienced the activistism of certain groups on Wikipedia knows there's plenty of people with a vested interest in this kind of thing.
I seriously hope this project can overcome the prevalent, subtle biases in media. For instance, every single headline from the recent French election mentioned "far-right" Le Pen without also mentioning any ideological affiliation of the other candidates. Painting your opponent as an extremist is an effective political tactic, and "far-right" certainly sounds extreme. Were most media outlets opposed to Le Pen, hence the extreme label? Why not label any other candidates?
I'm not necessarily optimistic about the prospects for unbiased news, but I will be watching this project as it progresses.
The media also regularly labels the other candidates, and nobody is complaining about them any more than Clinton complained when someone said she was left of Trump, politically.
Example from the NYT: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/23/world/europe/emmanuel-mac...
"[...]Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen to go to a runoff to determine the next president, official returns showed. One is a political novice, the other a far-right firebrand "
"Mr. Macron, a former investment banker, abandoned traditional parties a year ago to form his own movement with an eclectic blend of left and right policies."
"[...] the mainstream right candidate François Fillon had nearly 20 percent, and the far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon had 19.6 percent."
As to why she is labeled "extreme", Wikipedia says:
- She favours a "radical change of politics in order to drastically reduce upstream the influx of illegal immigrants towards France"
- She supported a referendum on whether to reinstate capital punishment in France
- "But I openly admit that, to some extent, I admire Vladimir Putin."
- "I do not believe that there was an illegal annexation: there was a referendum, the citizens of Crimea wanted to join Russia."
- Denouncing "the US supremacy", she "refused the idea that France slavishly followed the USA in this new stalemate"
It's subconsciously saying the following: "Hey don't trust this one candidate because we don't like that sort of thing and have attached a warning every time her name is mentioned. The other candidates are fine, even the extreme far left one, so no label needed - maybe we will add one for them on a rare occasion."
I'm almost certain this sort of propaganda is the reason why the public spew hatred at certain candidates, yet often cannot back up that hatred in relation to their policies or behavour. Just so you know, I'm not backing a political figure here, just pointing out what I notice when I read news websites - particularly the big outlets.
Note that we're talking about the foreign press (from the French perspective) here. They certainly have a motive to want le Pen to lose, but they don't have much power in that regard.
It's also not a secret conspiracy to stop her because it's not a secret. The slice of society journalists inhabit (i. e. having a university degree, having lived abroad, having studied history) is scared to death of what a FN would entail, such as the certain death of the European Union.
Again, you're operating from a wrong understanding of both "journalism" and "objectivity". If some holocaust denier holds an event, it's their job to call them out, not to report "both sides of the debate" in some sort of fake balance.
Shouldn't they just report who is holding the even and what views they hold? I think most of the problem here is conflating journalists with advocates.
Radical relates to root, not extremism. Extremist might be the opposite of radical, depending on the context.
There's nothing in your list that suggests extremist positions.
Far-right has a general negative connotation, so it is not the same than saying Clinton is left of Trump.
Le Pen is right of most in some areas, left of most in others. THAT is the description no one would complain about.
That's not true. Every publication I've seen about the election results are talking about right-wing Le Pen versus centrist Macron.
These are the French definitions of Left and Right, and probably have nothing to do with other countries'. Based on these definitions, the Democrats are Right and Republicans are Far-right.
Whether they are good definitions, I can't say. But Mélenchon is definitely not plain Left, or Center.
How about terms like "left-socialist" or "right-nationalist"?
She was asked whether "France" was "responsible" for said round up. She said she thought not.
The reason being that France was under occupation and shouldn't therefore be considered an independent country.
In other words, the real France was represented by de Gaulle in exile in London and the Resistance, rather than Pétain in Vichy and the occupation-sanctioned government - which was who did the rounding up.
So, she didn't doubt the French "fascist" government rounded up Jews. She said that precisely because the "fascist" government was not legitimate, France as a country ought not to be considered responsible for that government's actions.
I made big and small changes to a couple of online communities and believe me, the amount of vitriol you receive from people that are the masters of the domain they carved out for themselves will make you doubt every future decision. Even when it's objectively the right thing to do.
How does this relate to Wikinews, a crowd-sourced newspaper that actually is connected to Wikipedia and that has been trying to put into practice much of the model being put forward here for the past twelve years? is a fairly obvious question. No journalist covering this story apparently asked it.
The heart of De Correspondent is our founding document from 2013 – a manifesto of sorts – and these core principles have informed how we’ve built De Correspondent ... 1. De Correspondent provides an antidote to the daily news grind. 2. De Correspondent challenges oversimplification and stereotyping.
Here are the top four headlines from the "selected stories from our archives" section on the front page:
"This is how we can fight Donald Trump’s attack on democracy"
"If Shell knew climate change was dire 25 years ago, why still business as usual today?"
"We’re heading into dark times. This is how to be your own light in the Age of Trump"
"How billions vanish into the black hole that is the security industry"
These headlines read exactly like a typical front page of the Guardian. How is this "challenging oversimplification" or being "an antidote to the daily news grind"? I can find content like that anywhere on the internet for free, its value is literally zero.
The Manifesto itself does not seem very consistent. It says things like:
Correspondents are fair and independent, yet also explicitly subjective
De Correspondent is ambitious in its ideals, yet modest in its claims
after making a series of decidedly not modest claims. It also has this amusing statement:
Although De Correspondent is a commercial, for-profit enterprise, we do not strive to maximize profits for shareholders. A profit ceiling has been stipulated in our statutes: Any profit distribution may not be greater than 5% of revenues.
But 20 seconds googling throws up a claim that the average profit margin in the newspaper industry is around 3.2%, which sounds about right. Average profit margins across all industries are 10% but the news industry is famously in decline and laying off employees, so 10% would be far too high. Aiming for 5% profit margins as if it's some great sacrifice indicates that either they believe their readers don't know much about business, or they themselves don't know. Neither possibility makes me want to subscribe.
- http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail - home of ... data journalism
- https://careers.bloomberg.com/job/detail/47892 - seeking a ... data journalist
- https://www.usnews.com/topics/author/deidre-mcphillips - ... is a data reporter
Let's see: CiviliNation's Form 990s from 2010-2014 total $82,428 in contributions. If Jimbo was the "primary funder", that's at least $41,215. So he attests that he donated over $41K to CiviliNation -- while Weckerle took $63,228 in salary, on total contributions of $82,428. Meaning, he basically bankrolled most of his girlfriend Andrea Weckerle's personal income from CiviliNation, which accomplished what?
CiviliNation.org is barely a functioning website any more; its blog was last updated 13 months ago. Wales was so charitably inept that he forked over $41K to a failed attempt to "fix" online civility that ultimately accomplished not much more than keeping his girlfriend in food, clothes, and shelter for a few years, with tax-deductible dollars.
Based on my observation of Jimmy Wales and Openserving, Wikia Search, CiviliNation, Impossible, and The People's Operator, I would say an easy case could be made that the man specializes in grifting and fraud.
This is even more pronounced for retrospective coverage, where developments in the story as it had evolved are hard to glean from the coverage at the time, but important facts are surfaced throughout the coverage that are often elided in a retrospective published by a news source, but are well-represented, even controversially (where facts disagree or question the overall narrative).
My main complaint about the current trend in journalism (under Trump) is that the desire to sell clicks is so strong that you get no idea whether anything that happens is highly unusual or just routine, but the negative spin is so heavy that I can no longer trust that I'm being told how unusual each event is unless I really dig into it to find out.
A great example is the ongoing harassment of international travelers in the US. The impression I get is that things have gotten much worse, but there's certainly ample evidence of unpleasant behavior even under previous administrations, and some slim cherry-picked data saying that it's gotten worse. This is clearly a space where better sourcing of primary sources would help to make things a lot clearer, and to an extent, a somewhat adversarial approach to news research would help to reduce the tendency towards alarmism.
This is hardly the only source of bias in the news, which is an age-old problem. We'd be better off just expecting news organizations to announce their bias up front so that we don't have to read between the lines in order to ferret out its nuances.
Wales founded an encyclopedia on the basis that everything had to be "verified" by linking to a "secondary source", which in the case of recent events generally meant linking to a news report by a "reliable" subset of the same media Wikitribune aims to compete with.
The other alternative, of course, is to link purely to primary sources like Open Data, online video and public figures' Twitter feeds for recording the fact they made an announcement. Wikipedia tended to frown on such behaviour largely because a "WP:SYNTH" policy recognised that stringing together multiple facts often implied decidedly non-factual conclusions (and if no other reliable source had drawn together those facts then it probably wasn't important and quite possibly wasn't a valid inference to be drawing). And whilst "X responded that" is certainly a fact, whether X's statement can reasonably be interpreted as accurate is generally a matter of opinion. Unqualified reporting of "X said $contentiousclaims" because they can't be conclusively established as non-factual is itself an editorial stance.
Most news media doesn't exactly hide its biases though (and the worst news media for factual accuracy tends to be the most explicit about declaring it)
Otherwise I love the idea that there must be an attributable source to all information they present -- no more "senior government officials" or "anonymous FBI agents"...
Then don't. Source won't go on record? Then they aren't a source.
I once had a source come to me with information about how families were being shipped in to my town from another city because the housing crisis affecting the UK meant local councils could not house residents locally.
In another case, I was given salary details for council employees who were being paid in a similar manner to this: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/08/02/nhs-chief-on-reco....
In one other case a council employee told me how morale was low in the council's social services department due to pressure from senior officials and the workload. The source said there were concerns over how this was affecting the welfare of the children they were meant to look after.
In all three cases the stories checked out and in the published story I wrote that the initial information came from an unnamed source. In the housing case I was able to speak to some of the families and they went on record. In the payroll case I published the salaries and the council did not say my information was false. In the social services case they gave us a statement.
The problem with using anonymous sources comes when journalists use them as an excuse for publishing unverified information. If my sources had gone on record they would have most likely have lost their jobs meaning future whistle-blowers/sources would not have spoken to me or would have not spoken to other journalists in the future. If that happens how can institutions and individuals be held to account?
> in one other case a council employee told me how morale was low
How can you verify this is true? How did you check it out?
I tried to register as a supporter. Upon submitting my credit card, I got a CloudFlare error. I have no idea what was supposed to happen when I registered.
When I received the confirmation email, I clicked the "confirm" button, was asked to prove I was human by identifying photos of gas stations, then taken to the website of impossible.com instead of WikiTribune.
Wikitribune solves a problem, just not the problem they have defined as the target.
They've used a naive view of the problem; the model under this ignores the existence of antagonists and too much faith in crowd sourcing difficult problems.
Antagonists will prey on services like this, and off the top of my head, here's 2 ways in which such a service can be made biased.
1) baseless accusations, oft repeated. Find the facts inimical to your (the antagonists) position. Ignore them.
Find facts which are borderline, and have dog whistle properties - highlight these facts ad nauseum. Say that "Wikitribune is biased". Repeat till it sticks.
Then target the facts inimical to you.
2) flood the service with facts that serve your cause- humans have only so much working memory.
The particular structure wikitribune has chosen, will result in issues. There's a reason print news papers had an editor and a whole staff dedicated to working together.
With volunteers there's no structure, and that causes failures, just consider the Boston bomber case. Of course with a journalist in the mix the assumption is that they will push back.
But the structure is supposedly egalitarian, which just means that this is going to end up causing the same politicking, and admin arguing that plagues Wikipedia.
Recruit everyone, don't get volunteers. Get the whole team.
> Articles are authored, fact-checked, and verified by professional journalists and community members working side by side as equals, and supported not primarily by advertisers, but by readers who care about good journalism enough to become monthly supporters
The wisdom of the crowd fails all too often. As another article recently discussed, it's 5% of the people that take up most of your time.
How will this structure deal with truly divisive news articles? Or people who have conflicts (and conflicts of interest) within the group?
How will you deal with the fact that one day someone can say "volunteer X was a pedophile from <country>!"
Kudos for trying it.
This looks like a propaganda machine which will use the wiki brand about to be born.
This is the first honest effort I've seen that has some credibility.
Heres a previous discussion on the "fake news" problem with a far more credible start, because theyve actually got a better idea of the problem, and so are targetting an achievable goal -
discussed here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13542428, in February.
This isn't cynicism. I'm long long past that. This current media scenario has been cooking for more than 2 decades.
Creating a less strict media structure will not fix it.
>Assessing the veracity of a news story is a complex and cumbersome task, even for trained experts .
>Fortunately, the process can be broken down into steps or stages. A helpful first step towards identifying fake news is to understand what other news organizations are saying about the topic. We believe automating this process, called Stance Detection, could serve as a useful building block in an AI-assisted fact-checking pipeline. So stage #1 of the Fake News Challenge (FNC-1) focuses on the task of Stance Detection.
In a nutshell, this interaction is the problem with the news cycle, and its the audience as much as its the reporting. Most people don't click on the link.
From the FAQ, lower down the page -
> WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THE STANCE DETECTION TASK RATHER THAN THE TASK OF LABELING A CLAIM, HEADLINE OR STORY TRUE/FALSE, WHICH SEEMS TO BE WHAT THE FAKE NEWS PROBLEM IS ALL ABOUT?
There are several reasons Stance Detection makes for a good first task for the Fake News Challenge:
Our extensive discussions with journalists and fact checkers made it clear both how difficult “truth labeling” of claims really is, and how they’d rather have reliable semi-automated tool to help them in do their job better rather than fully-automated system whose performance will inevitably fall far short of 100% accuracy.
Truth labeling also poses several large technical / logistical challenge for a contest like the FNC:
There exists very little labeled training data of fake vs. real news stories.
The data that does exist (e.g. fact checker website archives) is almost all copyright protected.
The data that does exist is extremely diverse and unstructured, making hard to train on.
Any dataset containing claims with associated “truth” labels is going to be contested as biased.
Together these make the truth labeling task virtually impossible with existing AI / NLP. In fact, even people have trouble distinguishing fake news from real news.
The dataset we are using to support the Stance Detection task for FNC-1 was created by accredited journalists, making it both high quality and credible. It is also in the public domain.
Variants of the FNC-1 Stance Detection task have already been explored and proven feasible but far from trivial by Andreas Vlachos & his students from U. of Sheffield. Cite: Ferreira & Vlachos (2016) & Augenstein et al. (2016).
We considered targeting the truth labeling task for the FNC-1, but without giving teams any labeled training data. We decided against it both because we thought a competition with a more traditionally structured Machine learning tasks would appeal to more teams, and because such an open-ended truth labeling competition was recently completed, called the Fast & Furious Fact Check Challenge.
Our discussions with human fact checkers lead us to believe that a solution to the stance detection problem could form the basis of a useful tool for real-life human fact checkers. Also see, next question/answer.
thats a substantially more thought out approach to the problem than Wikitribune.
This is essentially the same sales pitch that gave us bloggers as journalists, which we already know did not create an alternative to the system (well depending on your perspective I guess)
There's many things worth trying, but as I said - this set up solves a problem, just not the problem at the heart of their mission statement
Their mission statement is the following:
> We want to make sure that you read fact-based articles that have a
> real impact in both local and global events. And that stories can be
> easily verified and improved.
You earlier said that adversaries will just repeat falsehoods until they are perceived as being true but even endless repetition will not make sources and evidence magically appear. Could you please elaborate on why you think they will fail to achieve their goals?
2) to answer your specific question - self referential information loops already exist.
News paper makes a claim, claim is put onto Wikipedia. That claim is repeated by other websites, which in then use wikipedia as the source.
How will wiki tribune solve this?
By doing longform research? Going out in the field and finding the facts?
That's not what this setup is good for. It assumes that fact checkers can check facts, at the speed of the current news cycle.
Fact is that this verification can't be done fast enough and broad enough to cover ground to be useful, unless it gets a multi billion dollar investment.
Wikipedia mainly fails around the margins. Yes, initially bad actors can game the system. But success brings more attention and eventually the problems are fixed.
Do consider that this has to happen at the speed of the news cycle!
This means that volunteers and journos have to report fast enough to be relevant or helpful. Thats a lot less time for volunteers to fact check or respond.
Perfection is the enemy of the good.
To go one step further: Wherever Wikipedia actually does approach the vicinity of "news" (i.e. articles about current events/politics/persons etc.), it has been shown time and again to be prone to manipulation just like your scenarios for wikitribune, and that it actually doesn't work very well in this area.
"One of these days the people of Louisiana are going to get good government - and they aren't going to like it."
If there ever is a 'paper' that publishes the full unvarnished un-redacted truth about everything, it will have very many enemies, some of them very powerful.
Of course they will be "helpful" to some - after all, everybody picks some sources they trust. So if you feel you can trust the WikiThingie, then I guess it is helpful to you. Just don't make any glorious claims about beating fake news.
Honourable aims for this project, however once you are literally only reporting the presented facts (without bias - aka opinion) surely you are just a Wire Service?
I've looked at large articles I contributed to a few years ago and they are now disasters. Full of bowdlerisation, inconsistent style, and false snippets of information. I think the abusive nature of many Wikipedia admins, and the hostility of Wikipedia itself to knowledge, will eventually just make it a 4chan with pretentions.