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Want to Stop Fake News? Pay for the Real Thing (nytimes.com)
260 points by tysone 15 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 435 comments

I do pay for news, however one request I have for news providers is a greater emphasis on presenting news from all sides. Over the last 4-5 years most news providers have picked a political side (to a much greater extent than I recall in the past). This is true in both countries for which I follow news (India and the US). Given an event I can predict the coverage that venues will give it. This is troubling to me, and I have to visit multiple news providers (And at times augment that by reading comments on relevant subreddits). I would really like some reputed news organizations to try to pitch a "big tent" and try to get a diverse set of opinions on the news of the day.

While we are at it - please ignore data that long form journalism is dead, the current race to the bottom leads to nowhere. The people who value understanding the world enough to want to pay for it also value understanding the nuance and the multiple perspectives - these are hard to capture in a single paragraph. Do not design your product for the lowest common denominator.

Lastly - please drop the clickbait ads on your websites that you run to augment your income. These ads often contain fake news, and by association they lessen the credibility of your organization in my eye.

In short - respect your audience, build a premium product that is worth subscribing.

I would appreciate less emphasis on pretending to cover news from several angles. By doing so they imply that both sides are equally valid even when they're not. For instance I've seen them bring on a climate change denier to give the "other side" on a climate change story; anti vaxxers, et cetera. It's particularly bad when one side is willing to lie.

Yes, some "sides" of some issues are objectively false. But the problem is that even where facts are not in dispute, the mainstream press's strong left-bias influences the facts it chooses to emphasize and the narratives it promotes.

Take the coverage of the Covington High School protest, for example. When the available facts seemed to support the narrative that white, male, MAGA-hat-wearing, anti-abortion Catholic students were racially harassing a defenseless Native American elder, the media was shouting "fascism!" from the rooftops.

But when more facts emerged in the form of a longer video showing the high school students being abused, and with no mere smirk, by a group of overtly racist Black Hebrew Israelites no less--and the Native American elder accosting the students rather than the other way around--suddenly that no longer serves a narrative the left wants to tell, and there's been comparatively little coverage of the aftermath of the mob unleashed by the initial reporting, of the death threats to students and the high school's temporary closure.

This is why it is crucial for the media to present the facts from more than one, very specific angle, even when the facts are largely not in dispute.

"suddenly that no longer serves a narrative the left wants to tell"

Except that that was also reported mostly everywhere. Also, one sided 'evil-looking' harassment is news that is more interesting to most people because it might signal some trend. No-one (left or right) would have found a word-fight between evenly-wrong grey characters very interesting if that was the story in the first place. Because it just isn't.

That doesn't make the mainstream press left-biased. I think it actually isn't.

> No-one (left or right) would have found a word-fight between evenly-wrong grey characters very interesting if that was the story in the first place.

That you would rank the Covington kids as "evenly-wrong" with their racist (not to mention adult) abusers is incredible.

Does the behaviour of one group somehow excuse the unacceptable behaviour of another? "Two wrongs don't make a right"?

(Not debating the "even-ness of wrongs", as that is a six-year-old's excuse for punching their sibling - "They started it!!")

Except there was no unacceptable behavior from the part of the kids (unless you consider "standing and smiling while being abused by racists and nutcases" unacceptable behavior). That was a complete fabrication to make the story fit the narrative. There weren't two wrongs - there was just one wrong, and it was from the other side than the press claimed it to be.

that arguably is another form of political bias - if I want to push position A, I will choose the most ridiculous and deranged proponent of position B to imply that "all rational people choose position A". Like on the issue of climate change - there's clearly some fraction of people who choose to deny it completely, but the more meaningful debate at this point is around how much we can do to prevent it, and what approaches might work (iron seeding, carbon sequestration, artificial photosynthesis, planting/algae cultivation, etc). Presenting a climate scientist who advocates a move to solar panels against a conspiracy theorist who thinks climate change is an invention of the new world order to seize control of the manufacturing industry is not a balanced presentation of the available angles.

There are credible scientists who disagree with the climate change narrative. Just because you don't agree with them doesn't make them "nut jobs" or "deniers" or any other label you care to attach. Equating folks who don't agree with a lot of climate change assertions with flat earthers is not productive in any way.

And I agree with you're analysis; legacy media typically trot out straw men only to signal how superior their view is.

I wasn't specifically saying all climate change deniers are nut jobs, just that the ones the media trots out often are. I'm not familiar enough with the denial side to evaluate their position - but that's the modern problem isn't it? We have to delegate to a third party to assess ideas for us because we don't have the time or expertise to fully understand every political position. But if that third party becomes biased, it all collapses.

> I'm not familiar enough with the denial side to evaluate their position

This is sort of third or fourth-hand, so don't just trust it blindly, but what I generally hear is that most of the real "other side" does actually believe climate change is real. They just oppose action because they believe humans aren't the cause, and almost any action we take will be a lot of wasted time and money that could be used better for other things.

The problem is that upon hearing that they oppose action, the "climate change is real" people totally ignore their reasons and lump them in with the crazy "climate change isn't real" people.

One: Roy Spencer.

The one time I heard him talk, he set off all of my kook alarms in the first few minutes of his lecture.

Why don't you go investigate the denial side? It will probably only take thirty minutes and might be interesting.

I did this once. I had fully accepted the media's narrative that these people were all kooks and idiots, so I was curious what could possibly cause them to think these things. I went and read some of their websites for the same reason I went and read some flat earther websites the other day, for amusement.

Unfortunately it turned out that (surprise) journalists had been wildly misleading me about what these people really believe, probably because journalists as a class of people accept intellectual authority without question, especially in the scientific realm. The problem of fraudulent psychology results is one well known example of this.

Here's what a lot of "climate change denial" really boils down to:

- CO2 is indeed a greenhouse gas. We are indeed releasing lots of it.

I've yet to see anyone deny this, although I'm sure there are people out there who do. However this is not mainstream "denial".

- But we don't really know what effect this is having, or if it's really changing the climate

This is where climate change "deniers" separate from journalistic mainstream. They aren't so much in denial as much, much less certain about climate science and its conclusions, to the extent that they often conclude nothing should be done.

- This is partly because the climate is too complex to model, and partly because of scientific bias, fraud and malpractice.

A lot of climate change denial turns out to be a specific case of more general criticisms of the scientific establishment. Their style of argument can easily be ported to criticisms of social science or economics, with hardly any tweaks.

Basically: proclaiming certain doom and that your field of study is the only way to avoid it is a surefire way to get massive amounts of grant money, media coverage and political power. In addition, the "deniers" tend to have lots of evidence of actual serious problems with the science. One recent article I saw pointed out that the thermometer dataset that has been used for over 20 years to measure climate change is full of obvious errors, like temperatures that would be physically impossible or which are clearly the result of bad celsius/Farenheit conversions, or which are taken from thermometers that are literally at the start of airport runways i.e. routinely blasted with jet exhaust.

When errors that are obvious to laymen are discovered in critical datasets that have been used for years to make very precise predictions about very complex things, it is reasonable for some people to conclude the science is less certain than journalists present it, and as a consequence that maybe the costs of inaction are lower than has been presented.

Thank you for this comment

It almost doesn't matter what a few credible scientists think about climate change--it maters what the overall consensus agree is and what most climate scientists believe. A huge part of science as a field is consensus.

How do you define or measure consensus?

I think this debate goes round in circles because we rely on news organisations to do several things at once, and they should probably be unbundled.

We rely on them to report immediate, factual events, like a fire in a hotel or an impending storm.

We rely on them to do longer form reporting on social trends, new scientific findings, business and governmental activities, etc.

We rely on them to locate and expose corruption and malpractice amongst the powerful.

We rely on them for book and film reviews.

And sometimes we rely on them to engage in analysis and generally telling us what to think, because figuring out our own opinions on complex topics is hard work. We'd like them to do it for us and then boil things down to an executive summary that we can then adopt wholesale as if it were our own opinions.

It's not clear to me that it makes sense to bundle so many things together, or if this is a useful combination or just an artifact of an earlier era when distributing the written word required lots of equipment and big agent networks. Now the internet exists should we be defending these agglomerations or breaking them apart?

>A huge part of science as a field is consensus.

How many were against Einstein for decades? Appeal to consensus among experts is still a fallacy.

Einstein finalized his theory of relativity in 1916 and it was widely accepted in the physics community by the 20s. Additionally, Einstein was primarily a theorist (vs an empiricist) so while there was room for initial disagreement, the solar eclipse in 1919 offered evidence and majority opinion accepted the theory.

Climate change has both consensus and evidence. It seems irresponsible to keep spreading doubt in the face of both.

He published his first important papers in 1905 and received the Nobel in 1921. His work was controversial for decades, but I would argue that there was no consensus in physics at that time.

I have encountered this before and am curious about the alternative take. My understanding of it is that they agree with the popular narrative to the extent that the climate is changing but that they disagree about how conclusive the evidence is that it is caused by humanity, is that correct?

Can anyone point me to hard, unbiased (in your opinion, of course) data that supports the assertion that climate change is caused by humans or otherwise depicts an accurate representation of our current understanding on the subject?

Is it possible that climate change is due to natural and not human forces?

That’s very reasonable. I doubt humans caused the last ice age. Maybe Mother Earth is up to some stuff herself. I rarely hear that discussed and instead hear news people pushing for aggressive measures.

I have yet to meet a climatologist who says this. Usually it is the other way around, they are exasperated that people don't take climate change as seriously as they should.

They need to stop being exasperated, because that implies that they keep hoping people will come around and that disaster can be averted. It can't. We might as well just prepare for complete ecological disaster, or resign ourselves to our fate which is going to be complete civilization collapse due to a climate that we simply can't live in at our current population levels.

Basically, instead of trying to convince people who still refuse to believe the evidence, they should be switching to something more productive, like building dome cities or building colonies on the Moon or something.

Your opinion on the predicted effects of climate change, are so far off from reality, that you are actually more incorrect than the climate change deniers.

No scientist believes that civilization is going to collapse because of climate change.

The predicted effects, according to the scientific consensus, is that sea levels will rise by a meter or 2 over the next hundred years. That is not an extinction level event. Not even close.

The scale of how bad things are, are more on the scale of trillions of dollars worth of damages. Thats bad, but it is bad on the same scale as another Iraq war, and not bad on the scale of billions dieing.

It's sometimes just incredible ignorance. You're right a more productive debate is called for though.

Case in point. The BBC trotting out Nigel Lawson as their standard puppet to "balance" pieces on climate change appears to have been about presenting the opposite point of view for balance. From a denier happy to spout easily disprovable fake facts, with no knowledge of the science. Every interview with a climate scientist appeared to come with a space for an unqualified denier. I suspect it's far more an indictment of a sad lack of scientific awareness in the BBC than deliberate political bias. Perhaps inevitable now they've been required to outsource so much.

Far from demonstrating the absurdity of the denier's position, for many of the public, it gave it credibility. For those with enough scientific awareness, yes his "balance" clearly consisted of cringe-inducing lies.

Of course it was made far worse by the BBC taking so long to realise and acknowledge their big mistake. I don't know whether to laugh or cry at the memo they had to send around late last year. I suppose cry, I expected much better of them. Maybe a little fact checking too.

> Presenting a climate scientist who advocates a move to solar panels against a conspiracy theorist who thinks climate change is an invention of the new world order to seize control of the manufacturing industry is not a balanced presentation of the available angles.

Remove the deliberately goofy language you've used ("conspiracy theorist," "new world order") and just say "someone who believes the danger of climate change is not real and is a lie perpetrated by the political left." When you've done that, you have a rather mainstream conservative American position.

What you see as deliberately manufactured, idiotic strawmen are sometimes just idiots.

> Presenting a climate scientist who advocates a move to solar panels against a conspiracy theorist who thinks climate change is an invention of the new world order to seize control of the manufacturing industry is not a balanced presentation of the available angles.

But this is litterally the position of both camps in the US right now. Donald Trump, Wells Griffith, Jeff Sessions, all have (or had) tremendous power over US energy policies, and they all share (publicly at least) indubitably non-scientific views on the climate change problem.

I'm aware of that. But then that's a slightly different topic - why do some people believe in climate change where others do not? I mean, I believe in anthropomorphic climate change but that's not because I have read the scientific papers and understood the nuance and the data - it's because I trust that the media is at least reporting in the right ball park, even if the nuance is lacking and the accuracy is minimal. And also that it makes logical sense that we can't just pump chemicals into the atmosphere and the sea at our world-spanning civilisational scale and expect nothing bad to happen.

But I think the whole issue comes down to a lack of trust in the media - if I already thought that the media is following a political agenda (or just exaggerating to get more views/shares) and then they started pushing climate change heavily, saying we need to aggressively regulate industries and eliminate blue-collar energy jobs in favour of high-tech clean energy (both generally considered left wing policies/strategies already) I would likely look at that with extreme skepticism.

So we're back to the issue of media trustworthiness. I think media needs to earn back the trust of the right in order that climate change reporting be taken seriously. There's still going to be the issue of industry advocates pushing fake science, but that needs a whole different approach to tackle.

> saying we need to aggressively regulate industries and eliminate blue-collar energy jobs in favour of high-tech clean energy (both generally considered left wing policies/strategies already)

There’s 180K people employed in oil, coal, and natural gas jobs compared to 370K in solar. From a pure numbers standpoint this is just a completely farscical angle, but it’s a great example of why there is no true media bias problem, but there is a huge problem with stupid people who will believe anything and vote with fear.

but you've just proved the point - the industry has shifted in favour of high tech over blue collar. I'm willing to bet that the disparity wasn't the same in the Bush era.

I don't personally think it's a conspiracy - as I said, I believe that we need to attempt to counteract anthropomorphic climate change. But the evidence does bear the idea out.

The idea that Republicans are all just morons is cancerous as fuck. And I'm British - I have no horse in that race. But seeing Democrats actively promote the idea that Republicans are white trash hillbilly redneck bumpkins with sub-80 IQ makes me really dislike those Democrats. Rather than basically claiming superiority over your political opponents, why not try to understand their position, and the circumstances that lead them to believe things different from what you believe? It's supreme arrogance to think you know everything and your opponents know nothing.

For what it's worth, most of the jobs "in solar" are installers. Very much blue collar (also, fairly dangerous work).

Agreed with the rest of your points.

yes you do raise a great point actually. I think my mental model for the fuel economy shift is moving from red geographies to blue geographies (with innovation occurring inside universities and cleantech startups, and the majority of solar panels being installed in bluer states) but you're right in that there's still plenty of blue collar work involved.

I'm curious about the source of your numbers. In particular, see https://www.politifact.com/illinois/statements/2017/apr/25/b... (which has numbers comparable to yours for solar, but 160k jobs for just coal, not counting oil and natural gas, in the US).

Thank you for the link.

Per that document, page 29, there are ~370k jobs in solar, yes. But there are ~160k jobs in coal, ~360k jobs in natural gas, and ~515k jobs in oil. Plus the ~36k jobs in "advanced gas", whatever that is.

Unless you were talking about just the "electric power generation" column?

If you accept that client change is happening, man made, and inevitable, but you believe the best course of action for the United States is to do nothing...do you argue that cold dispassionate position with people that want to open the borders and eliminate capitalism?

Or do you double and triple down on denial so your opponents are busy trying to convince you rather than trying to maneuver you into compromise.

After all, based on progress so far your strategy has been exceptionally successful.

Exactly... one of the big problems is trotting out the weakest possible arguments for whatever view opposes your network's preferred narrative.

It's a "strawman". You see this in fake wrestling: a designedly weak contender is set up to get owned by the audience's favorite protagonist

In this case climate change denial and conspiracy theories are a mainstream opposition.

>"The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive." -President of the United States


Here he is ridiculing climate change as of last week, in case someone wants a more recent example (he missed the 15th anniversary of The Day After Tomorrow by a few months)

> "[..Its cold right now..] What the hell is going on with Global Waming? Please come back fast, we need you!" -Leader and representative of the United States


Do they still do that? I thought that was a 90's thing.

Also known as a "Squash Match".

If pro wrestling can move on from them, maybe news media should too!

Of all my random childhood / young-adulthood interests, I never expected a Hacker News tangent discussing this one.

The role of "jobbers" or "enhancement talent" (i.e. performers on the show whose role was to make the real stars look good) faded in the mid-1980's.

The industry consolidated, from a collection of regional operators focused on live events, to two main companies with national footprints and a focus on television (i.e. WWF and WCW). Competition heated up between the two, and the "squash matches" that had filled out live event cards were not compelling to the newer television audience.

With the dawn of The Attitude Era (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attitude_Era), squash matches became virtually extinct. They had already become more rare in the preceding years. Much of the Attitude Era can be seen as a postmodern deconstruction of the old-school tropes that came before. In this environment, a group of former-"jobbers" even formed an on-screen faction dealing wit the concept (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_J.O.B._Squad), which elevated them to moderate stardom by breaking the fourth wall for an increasingly-informed audience.

Today, some performers will still never have the same potential for stardom as other top performers. But no one is kept on the roster to always lose. It's too boring, and doesn't really work to enhance the winners.

You are correct, of course. The industry changed only because the "mark" fans "smartened up" and demanded it!

Jobbing is alive and well, especially on the mid-card, but not as prevalent as it used to be.

Related: https://twitter.com/klujypop/status/1018217609010012160?lang...

I see two modes to this. On factual matters (flat Earth, anti-vaxxers, chemtrails), I fully support the "figure it out and print/publish only the truth".

In opinion matters (how much tax should the poor/middle/rich pay, should public higher education be free/cheaper, should we implement UBI, etc), I'm far more interested in hearing from both/all sides, even at risk of some of the fringe viewpoints getting more airtime than currently.

"News" is not the simple reporting of facts, probably never was, and inherent in even the apparent reporting of facts is an interpretation of them (if nothing else by virtue of the facts you select to report upon and then emphasis you give them).

Yeah I rather just see publications own their bias and then come up with my own interpretation to blend them than have a publication do it for me.

I think the zeitgeist right now is people are afraid to fully own their beliefs AND be open to debate.

Right now there's too much fear of repercussion one way or another. Which is only pushing the extremes further.

It's possible to see why anti-vaxxers are afraid while disclosing verified facts.

There is no one "correct" side amongst people and events, only impressions and accounts, which can vary tremendously.

It's also important not to take a side in the news, but to lay out facts and people issues involved as fairly as possible, rather than what happens these days: hiding datapoints, falsifying statements, taking sides and rarely understanding anything about or relating to the people involved.

Perhaps on stories of grievance or accusation, journalists musy play devil's advocate by asking for a response to opposition and ask the question most people are too afraid to ask.

Taking sides is for the editorial, not news, lest it become merely a TV church espousing gospel and seed faith, while the polarized others are turned off and away. Neither group communicates to the other, and neither challenges the others ideas... a dichotomous, divided-and-conquered, atomized society falls apart.

PS: I've been around the sun a few times, and I note a liability red flag whenever a person espouses black-and-white thinking. It's usually an unreasonableness better kept at a distance.

Including "the other side" on such issues is only a problem if you include them uncritically. But that requires a debate, not just airing of opinions as most news is nowadays. Censorship of ideas only makes them grow stronger. Look at antivax - what we needed was a complete and repeated dismantling of their ideas in the mass media BEFORE it became a problem so that people would been vaccinated (in this case with knowledge) against the well-sounding and emotionally compelling arguments of the antivax movement.

So, no, we don't need balanced news. But we need critically inclusive news.

In that case it's the job of the journalist to keep the battle of facts going until one side falls silent or into denial rambling.

I would highly appreciate several angles, but this is extremely hard to do without falling into the "we respect all points of view no matter what" type of stuff.

For example, I would be interested in listening to a reasonable anti-vaxxer. Not the "vaccines-cause-autism" one, (although this point deserves an honorable mention), but someone with more methodical approach. I know it's hard to find a voice of reason in the choir of conspiracists, but who said making good press should be easy?

I also would be interested in listening to a good flat-earther. I see it as a very good mental exercise for the reader: if I had now knowledge about the shape of our planet, could I actually tell the truth from the false here?

Same goes for climate (non)changers, Russian hackers and so on.

Completely disagree. I want the facts, backed by people who know the situation. I do not want “fair and balanced.” Not all sides have equal grounding and I’m tired of this false equivalence.

We are seriously in times where one side denies climate change. There is zero point in giving them time because it elevates their point to being equal to the one backed by actual climate scientists, not industry that has a vested interest, like coal, in continuing to deny it.

> Completely disagree. I want the facts, backed by people who know the situation. I do not want “fair and balanced.” Not all sides have equal grounding and I’m tired of this false equivalence.

However, it's more subtle that that. It is a fact that so-and-so holds this-or-that position or belief, even if that position is wrong or incorrect. Those kinds of facts should be reported on, especially when they encode the beliefs and position of a major politician or political faction. A reporter also cannot outright contradict such a person, except in very clear cases, without seeming partisan, so they have to juggle with the prominence or try to inject a more authoritative counterpoint.

It's a hard line to walk, even when newsrooms were fully staffed.

That’s true, but the other side may have good points in regards to other topics.

If you ignore them altogether because they are a bit crazy in one regard (well, maybe a lot of regards), then you are throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

Right, there is a nuance, but it's often lost today because newspapers want to appear "independent." They are so terrified of appearing partisan, it dilutes their coverage to nothingness, just covering both sides. It too often is:

"Side A said X"

"Side B said Y"

Well, that's of no help to me. I could simply go to those PR pages myself and see what they said.

So this is not about ignoring them, but about not giving equal credit to both view points or being mouthpieces to propaganda.

I have completely different observations. Most of the time sites try to sell me opinion and thoughts of some sort of "experts", but I want pure facts with fact-checking.

If the people denying climate change are the exact same people denying the effectiveness of vaccines, it is likely that their stance is based completely on ideology. I can’t think of another reason the same people would share the same stance on two completely different topics.

The problem with that line of reasoning is that climate scientists have jobs too, and they get money for promoting their viewpoint just as the coal industry does. It's hard to argue coal workers have "vested interests" but science workers don't.

In fact if you investigate it, you'll find a lot of so-called "climate change denial" is not so much denial as skepticism about the robustness and motives of climate science. There are some remarkably famous climate change skeptics you wouldn't expect, like a former head of Greenpeace who wrote an interesting essay that basically claimed oceanic acidification (due to extra CO2 being absorbed) was junk science. I didn't bother digging in to the merits of that specific debate, but when even the former heads of ecological charities are flagging problematic scientific practices, and when I've witnessed quite a bit in other non-climate fields, it's not a big stretch to believe that academia may have been exaggerating or mis-interpreting things to unlock grant money. Certainly other areas of science have developed a big problem with that (p-hacking etc).

All kinds of "absolute tests" are generally wrong.

For instance, your climate change (which was called until a few years ago "global warming") test rubbed me the wrong way because you mentioned the "climate scientists". There is no such thing as a climate scientist because there is no climate science. There is climate research or climate studies but not Science. Science means application of Scientific method: (a) making observations -> (b) formulating hypothesis (falsifiable predictions) -> (c) proving or rejecting the hypothesis through experimentation. Climate studies lack the third step and therefore they are not science.

Should I dismiss the rest of your argument based on my own test of "the person fails to understand the difference between science and ontology"?

The NYT in particular is so flagrant with this. Endless profiles of Trump voters in diners, who are always the same bewildered, inarticulate hicks. We don't need to hear any more from these people.

And who decides who's right? Journalists? They are terrible at that.

I'm living in Switzerland at the moment and I really appreciate swissinfo.ch (don't know much about the other sources because I only speak English).

For example take a look at the news for their upcoming vote: https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/in-depth/vote-february-10--2019

They have numerous articles on the issue (urban sprawl) and unmodified opinion pieces from people on both sides of the issue.

It's not a publisher in the normal sense, but if you are looking for news from all sides, I have to recommend, well, allsides.com


I've found that just browsing through their opposing headlines is a nice balance.

I've also resigned myself to reading multiple articles on the same topic to try and pick out the facts. My least favorite tactic of most papers has been to leave out pertinent facts to better fit the narrative that they're known for, or to simply not cover what should be major news.

Here in Brazil, publications pretend they are publishing the "truth" while they are controlled by a handful of the richest families of the country. I'd like that they at least recognized their bias. They won't get a cent from my pocket.

Maybe the reason that news are controlled by the richest families is that news is so unprofitable only the richest people can afford to provide them.

I disagree. Most issues are in fact not best viewed through a lens of two equal and opposing "sides". Multiple opinions are meaningless (or in fact a net-negative) if those opinions aren't factually grounded.

There's also the fact that the MSM has made complete asses of themselves over the last few years.

Has "Fake News" ever knocked trillions of dollars off the stock market because they ran an unverified story that implied the president would be impeached?


At some point there needs to more accountability for these organizations than "Oh, sorry about that"

I'm not sure why the media and journalists still get held up to some nostalgic ideal of brave upholders of truth. The majority of news organizations are owned by billionaires pushing their own agenda or giant corporations that only care about profit. Truth is secondary at this point.

Facebook lost a lot of stock value over the Cambridge Analytics scandal and the spread of fake info after it was reported on. Of course, this assumes this was the actual cause of its declining stock value, since it recently increased.

So yes, it has been assumed to have happened.


Indeed. There is way too little news specifically targeted at nr. 4, even though that group is rapidly growing.

Billionaires so it the other way round: buy a paper and tell it what to print.

it appears that you're suggesting that the only sides to politics are the perfect good people (presumably the progressive left), and their evil opposition comprised entirely of fascists, fascist apologists and cynical hypercapitalists. I presume most readers are already aware of this, but that is a highly inaccurate presentation of the range of political positions people hold.

To present politics as a battle of good versus evil is extremely harmful to discourse because it dehumanises the opposition. In my experience, most conservatives and liberals alike are moderate and policy-focused, believing that one approach or another will solve any given issue. Of course you do get extremists, but they are a fringe minority on both sides.

A few complaints I share with the other people in this thread:

- It's not clear that even reputed newspapers like NYTimes/WaPo produce quality content consistently. As someone in tech I can clearly see what they get and what they don't. Extrapolating it - it's not at all clear they understand economics or foreign policy or policy impact or environmental concerns and how to address them ...etc.

- Bias: every single one of them have bias. The burden is on me to spot bias and think objectively. Why do I have to pay do that? At least present news as it is? I'm not sure if even that would work - there could be bias in what gets chosen for reporting.

- The user experience is pretty bad. That I have to use an adblock after paying for the already expensive subscription is ridiculous. Not to mention the ridiculous amount of pixels and tracking embedded in their site.

- Big picture: By design, news focuses on the now and misses the big picture quite often and usually by a huge margin. E.g., the relentless focus on petty issues in last election (both major party candidates) and not enough attention at all on concrete policy measures. This extends to privacy issues (Facebook and the like) until it's too late. Wars/conflicts, foreign policy, long term economics.

For all these reasons, I have got rid of my NYT & WaPo subscription to FT now and I can't be happier.

It's better following individual journalists via twitter or whatever instead of the organization itself for quality content for subjects you like to read about.

Personally, I use the main site just to scan headlines and see if there's anything interesting.

Everyone's biased, but I don't think I'm more of an objective thinker than a trained journalist who's taken classes to study it and write about it specifically. I don't believe many people can spot bias as well as they think they can just from a reporter's writing.

And yeah, they aren't experts at everything they cover. It's not a scientific journal. They should use sources for that stuff and if they don't, you should move on. Remember they also don't write specifically for experts so details get left out.

Maybe journalists should go out on their own via Patreon etc.?

There are journalists that do that, e.g. Tim Pool. I watched a series he did on the so-call "no go zones" in Sweden which is worth watching. You can see he tries hard to push through the competing narratives and get to just the facts.


That was a great series for something lots of people say doesn’t exist in the slightest.

Reporting on this reporting: https://www.indy100.com/article/sweden-trip-crowdfunded-righ...

The question is, has he remained independent from his decidedly partial funder?

Do you have any proof that he didn't remain independent, or you just want to stir the pot? All I can see in that link is a newspaper saying "this guy got donations by someone we don't like, so he must be lying".

I see it's all video in that investigation, do the videos look like they've been manipulated?

I've found that for issues that are this extremely politically polarized and where there is this much misinformation floating around, the only way to really know would be to buy a plane ticket and go there. You can't trust any source.

A bit of a tangent but: this is how you keep secrets in the Information Age. You can't actually keep a secret, but you can fog up the air with so much competing nonsense that nobody knows what to believe and the secret is indistinguishable from noise.

Well, he did say, "Chicago has about 750 murders each year." This seems off to me based on the facts.

Murders in Chicago the last 10 years:

2009 - 463

2010 - 456

2011 - 449

2012 - 514

2013 - 455

2014 - 464

2015 - 512

2016 - 808

2017 - 683

2018 - 588

> Maybe journalists should go out on their own via Patreon etc.?

The problem with that is that the person with the byline isn't the only one that matters. Editorial oversight is equally important. You need the guy who's enthusiastically digging into a story and the guy who keeps his enthusiasm in check. I don't think those can be the same person.

We had quite a scandal with something like this over here in Germany some weeks ago.

A young journalist named Relotius who worked for "Der Spiegel" was found to have his stories a little bit too perfect. He acknowledged that some parts of his stories were "beautified" by him to make them more appealing to the readers.

So, while the core of a story might still be true, nobody really knows what happened and what was added by him. Nobody believes anything of these stories anymore after all.

It totally blew his career up (he was formerly found to be one of the "rising stars" of German journalism and had already got some awards for his work) and the Spiegel also found himself under heavy criticism, although they already have a concept in place, where another editor always fact-checks the other editors work.

So: Enthusiasm in journalists can go really wrong.

> He acknowledged that some parts of his stories were "beautified" by him to make them more appealing to the readers.

I think you are underselling it. Quoting from Der Spiegel[1], "he included individuals in his stories who he had never met or spoken to, telling their stories or quoting them. (...) He also made up dialogue and quotes."

[1] http://m.spiegel.de/international/the-relotius-case-answers-...

Oh, I'm sorry. I read into the story when it was more about things like "there was no music playing, although I wrote there was music and I didn't meet XY at that exact day". Didn't deeply look into it afterwards anymore. Thanks for pointing me to this, will read into it again.

IMHO what made it worse for "Der Spiegel", is that they have a huge fact checking department [1], but still failed miserably.

[1] https://digiday.com/media/inside-spiegels-70-person-fact-che...

I'm a fan of this idea. I've seen many a brand diluted after key journos leave and are replaced essentially by clickbait artists. The problem then is that it's tacit admission that the idea of branding in journalism is prima facie useless, but that feels somewhat natural. A large corporate publication is a large corporation first and foremost -- if it can't effectively create a product, then maybe I don't want that product from that large corporation.

But, where I get worried is what happens to the public commons when the labor of large scale journalism which is out of the reach of a single journalist (or even a small confederation) resources wise gets lost. Would it be replaced by individuals or small federations that are as effective? I mean, I don't think effective journalism will die anytime soon on the whole. But, I wonder if pockets will go extinct, and I'm nervous about what that means. I still don't think I've really seen it all that much yet.

There has also been at least one attempt at a site that facilitated this: pay the journalist you want to follow. It didn't take.

I'd love to find out which startups attempted this. I guess the network effects of YouTube/Patreon were simply too big for them to overcome.

The website I'm aware of is ne.ws (I knew the guy- a seasoned entrepreneur). I don't know what that website is now- same thing but Asian? Anyway I don't think he's doing it any more.

This is an interesting idea. I'd like to see more of this in the future. Large news orgs only existed before because of the necessity of combining resources. These days I bet you can do the same thing with only a couple of people or even solo given the advent of high technology.

smsm42 15 days ago [flagged]

But not Patreon. Patreon probably will shut them down after the first controversial article. If you want journalistic freedom and independence, relying on Patreon is like investing with Bernie Madoff.

I think that would lead to an echo-chambered niche on its own from incentives. Granted larger groups certainly can go astray as well. Greenpeace went essentially batshit a long time ago and the founders said screw it and left after falling to get through that banning Chlorine is an impossible and stupid idea given its role in health.

NYT's feature stories often seamlessly weave in certain choices of words that reflect the author's personal bias/ignorance. It's like enjoying a decent dessert then suddenly chewing on a piece of fingernail in it. Even WSJ doesn't really have this problem.

The WSJ pleasantly keeps its editorial content on the editorial pages. The NYT thinks all pages are editorial pages. Note this is different from choosing what to print. Both papers do that.

A very long time ago, I used to enjoy reading The Times (British newspaper) for exactly that reason. It was a very thin newspaper with 1 page of editorials and virtually no fluff sections (like leisure, travel,etc). Just news.

I haven't seen the print paper in a very long time, but I go to their website and see the following headlines: Sunday Times journalist was murdered by Assad, Bitter split on assisted dying hits Royal College of Physicians, Snow Alert as Britain stuck in deep freeze, Killer driver law a farce - says Olympic star, Labour MPs branded cowards for 'selling votes' to help May's deal, Job interviewer 'was like abusive ex', Giving Statins to older people could save 8000 lives a year, Times Christmas appeal attracts record donations, Improve or face closure - Steiner schools warned, Woman reunited with train driver who stopped her killing herself.

Where is the news? Virtually every headline is either exaggerated or clickbait or both. The article on the killing of the journalist is at least news worthy, but the headline is way over the top -- "US court determines Assad regime liable in journalist killing" would be much more neutral. There is a debate on assisted dying in the Royal College, but when has there not been? What's this about? It might snow in Britain. In February. Wow. "Killer driver law"... obviously a story, but obviously not unbiased... The rest of it is fodder for the tabloids. What the heck happened to the newspaper?

The Times is one of the oldest and most respected newspapers in the world. And while it has always been biased (as they all are), it has an amazing reputation for journalism since the latter half of the 1700s! But people don't want news. They want shock and awe. It drives me crazy.

Exactly the same thing that happened to the WSJ. It became wholly owned by Fox News.

Lots of the media seem to have lost their marbles over Twitter etc. eroding their hegemony.

WSJ used to. It is now a murdoch paper and you can see its editorial pushing through to news. Fox-WSJ. Yep. We don't have to like it...

I think the WSJ used to do that - before Murdoch purchased it. Now the "non-editorial" show he apparently breaks out in a cold sweat whenever sexual harassment comes up judging by the concern trolling and his ocerwhelming blonde anchor bias, openly acts like whistleblowers are big business bullying innocent comoanies, lobbyists are underdog small businesses, and the editorial writers are frothing at the mouth declaring well tested concepts are new and dangerously radical.

I moved from NYT to Economist for all of these reasons.

NYT went berserk after the 2016 elections if you ask me. Now every article feels like an opinion piece.

I agree with you but to be honest, 95% of the traditional medias decided to chose a camp after the 2016 elections.

Since then It is extremely difficult to find a neutral news with clear facts. I distrust the NYT as much as I distrust Fox news.

Are you sure it is bias or justified criticism? From my POV, the "bias" always seems to me to be justifiable criticism of Trump. I mean, the man lies so frequently it's almost impossible to present "his side".

I worry when I see these comments. They seem to make the same mistake that the BBC did when they presented equal time to climate change deniers as they did to climate change scientists.

I think your latter point is one of the defining sociocultural challenges of our time. We have stressed openness and fairness in public discourse to the point of enabling actors who 1) seek to undermine that public discourse 2) hold positions that are really spurious in relation to the discussions we need to be having. E.g., the public should be arguing over how to respond to climate change ---especially the social and economic trade-offs that might be necessary--- rather than about its existence.

> For all these reasons, I have got rid of my NYT & WaPo subscription to FT now and I can't be happier.

I think you have a typo. Are you saying that you switched to FT (Financial Times), or that you got rid of the FT as well?

Anyway, if you are a US-based reader, one way to avoid some of the bias and noise is to subscribe to a non-US paper. You don't have reporters and columnists trying to sway voters, because that's not who the audience is. Plus you might discover that interesting events do take place outside of the US. (And uninteresting events. Brexit seems like it should be interesting, but all the daily political ins and outs are, in my non-UK view, a bit tedious...)

Sadly non-US sources incur the bias of however said source feels about the US. I've seen the BBC home page highlight more random shootings than the actual US mainstream media. And in my experience they'll keep them on the front page longer than CNN when reporting on the same one. It could just be the page I'm being presented via cookie-stored history or whatever, but that seems unlikely as I hardly ever click on said stories.

Unfortunately it seems the only way to effectively reduce bias is to go straight to the primary source and judge for yourself, which is time-consuming.

And what makes you so sure that the BBC's handling of those stories isn't the correct one?

Your personal bias, of course.

We see in this thread many people who condemn newspapers because they report differently than they themselves would, and then have the gall to call that "bias".

The problem is not that they report differently, but that they fixate on a particular part of the whole picture, and emphasize it beyond all proportion, while neglecting other parts of the picture. It's like if you asked somebody to describe an elephant for you and they'd spend 99% of the time on its tail, describing it in a minute detail up to each hair on its end, and then spending only a couple of words on the rest of the animal - would you be able to adequately imagine what an elephant look like? You probably would think it's like some hairy snake or something :) That's the kind of coverage some biased news outlets provide.

You think the other parts are important because you don't like the tail.

But say, do you look forward to daily reports in your newspaper how on XY street there was no traffic accident yesterday? Or that no criminal escaped from YZ prison last month?

It's perfectly legitimate to focus on the interesting parts. You want to learn about an elephant's anatomy? Read a biology textbook, not journalism.

smsm42 15 days ago [flagged]

> You think the other parts are important because you don't like the tail.

Thanks for a case study. That's exactly what the press does - describe only the tail and call everyone who objects tail-phobes. No, I'm not going to pay for such baloney. If they find advertisers gullible enough to pay for it - good for them. Otherwise, good riddance.

> It's perfectly legitimate to focus on the interesting parts.

Of course. It's also perfectly legitimate for me not to pay for it if I'm interested in whole picture, not tail hairs. Let the tail hair enthusiasts finance it.

Tomte 15 days ago [flagged]

"I don't care about it" is a fundamentally different thing than "they are biased".

Sure, don't pay for it. I don't pay for Magic: The Gathering cards. But I also don't troll message boards how WotC deserve to die because they neglect XBox games, thus showing their bias towards Collectible Card Games.

smsm42 15 days ago [flagged]

> "I don't care about it" is a fundamentally different thing than "they are biased".

If they describe only what they care for, and only in a way they care for, it's the definition of biased. I challenge you to provide a definition of this word that would not be equivalent to this.

> But I also don't troll message boards how WotC deserve to die because they neglect XBox games

I don't care if they survive on their own - but they are whining that unless people start en masse paying for them, they'd die. I say - in that case good riddance, just as you would say if somebody asked you to pay for local MtG tournament because otherwise they can't survive. If they want my money - they have to provide quality content and do decent work. If they want to prostitute themselves to partisan politics and clickbait - ok, that's a way to make a living too, but I won't pay for it.

Oh, and another thing: I don't think any MtG club ever driven anybody to suicide or ruined somebody's life or career. Media does it all the time (Gawker, finally and deservedly resting in peace, pretty much was built for it). For example: https://quillette.com/2019/01/30/the-death-of-a-dreamer/ And then they want my sympathy. How about "no"?

P.S. you don't have to like my arguments or agree with it, but calling me "troll" just because you disagree with me is rude. Just so you know.

Sounds like they are pointing out the normalization and you are doubling down after being told that no, having a heart attack at 30 isn't normal.

No it isn't normal. It also isn't common. Gun homicides don't even crack the top 10 causes of death in America, yet the BBC chooses to devote a disproportionate amount of their US front page to it. They certainly front-page shootings more than heart disease, that's the definition of bias.

Right or wrong, noble intentions or not, it's not an accurate portrayal of America as a whole on the part of the BBC. If CNN ran a front page column every time someone in the UK died of alcohol poisoning, would you consider that unbiased coverage of the UK?

There's no "normalization" - nobody treats murders as "normal". However, there's a difference between treating it as normal and treating is as bad, but rare abnormal, and putting it in the context of overall big picture. You can say "66 people are attacked by sharks recently" and it would look like a bloody carnage which warrants very grave concern. Or you can put it in the context that it's over all wide world, and there was one single shark attack fatality in the US over whole past year, and about 10x more people are killed each year by vending machines.

It's the definition of selection bias. Gun homicides don't even crack the top 10 causes of death in the United States. But the BBC sure seems to front-page it more than heart disease.

Of course we all have our personal biases that can never be fully eliminated. But if you wanted to summarize the "current state of America" in one web page, statistically speaking some bastard shooting 3 bystanders in a botched robbery in a high crime area of East St. Louis (made up, but similar to stuff I've seen on the front page before) shouldn't even approach making the list.


Do you have any sources for what you’re saying? Specifically for your third paragraph.


Here is a report from OFCOM itself about a talk given by Ms White on the subject of diversity and how OFCOM can support a “positive change” agenda. [1]

Here are details of Project Diamond a programme to enforce and monitor Ms White’s diversity agenda across the industry [2]

Also [3] where Ms White speaks about punishing the BBC for not meeting her requested standards.

[1] https://www.ofcom.org.uk/about-ofcom/latest/media/speeches/2...

[2] http://creativediversitynetwork.com/diamond/

[3] https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/sep/27/tv-industry-di...

matt4077 15 days ago [flagged]

The BBC striving for diversity in hiring != Th BBC pushing a “social justice agenda” in its content.

If you can’t see the distinction, I doubt you will find any journalism stooping to your level.

Actually it's more than just hiring practices and directly covers content.

One example would that the BBC now has to have a 50-50 gender split for experts brought onto its flagship Radio 4 Today programme. That was decided to presumably to broaden opinions given to be more inclusive.

Another example would be this speach by Ms White where she clearly states:

"So today we have announced that the BBC will have to agree with Ofcom a new Diversity Code of Practice. This will set out how the BBC will commission programmes that authentically portray the whole UK population." [1]

As to "stooping to my level", I've so far not said anything about whether this process is good or bad or if the ends justify the means. Just that it is going on and you can read about the details if you wish.

[1] https://www.ofcom.org.uk/about-ofcom/latest/media/speeches/2...

You haven't at all backed up the assertion that the BBC are "under _specific_ instructions...to drop impartiality and implement a social justice agenda" (emphasis mine). You provided evidence that the regulator has demanded that they hire and air a more representative mix of gender, ethnic background etc.

Nowhere above has OFCOM directed the BBC to air different opinions. Regarding the Today programme example: Deliberately featuring a female (rather than male) climate science expert after featuring a male vaccination expert is entirely orthogonal to impartiality.

[EDIT:] I'm not specifically arguing that the BBC has no bias. I'm saying you haven't demonstrated that OFCOM have demanded a bias.

>And what makes you so sure that the BBC's handling of those stories isn't the correct one? Your personal bias, of course.

Well, actual verified accounts and statistics for one. BBC loves nothing more than highlighting USA shootings - despite near historic record lows of gun violence and definitely lows of gun ownership to crime ratios.

BBC does this because they want to “prove” how much better they are not being allowed the choice of how to defend yourself. It’s British smugness 101.

Btw... Did you see the school shooting last week where the aggresor was wearing a smash the patriarchy shirt - no you probably did not, and definitely didn’t see it on BBC.

Narrative and Bias. BBC can be trusted at all on firearms anywhere.

In my country all school and mass shootings that have occurred have been top news for days, if not weeks.

Now look at this list of only school shootings in America and tell me again that the BBC is unfairly reporting on too many of them: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_school_shootings_in_...

What percentage have they reported on, anyway? Low single digit?

Your "near historic record lows" are how many orders of magnitude more than in other countries?

That list of school shootings includes someone firing a gun near a school, and someone shooting a cat a 3am, as well as an officer discharging his gun negligently. Nice list, not hyperbolic at all.

You’ll be happy to know there are less school shootings today than the 90s. [0]

As opposed to other countries, where guns are available they are used... shocker! The fact is that where guns are in the USA, our rural areas have violence rates as near European rural rates. We have a lot of metropolitan areas with populations of 250k+ where our crime is, those are areas with illegal guns, that go with the drug, gang, poverty, inequality of social mobility, and gang problems. We have issues in the cities - but it’s not because of guns. That violence committed with guns is falling, despite record gun availability. The CDC found that where we have 10k homicides including all the drug and gang violence per year, we have 500,000 to 3,000,000 successful and legal defensive gun uses. And... to wrap up the “but other countries” argument, I don’t care what other countries to, in the USA we have a fundemental freedom to defend ourselves with the lost effective means of personal protection ever invented, it’s a natural right enumerated as a civil right.

[0] https://news.northeastern.edu/2018/02/26/schools-are-still-o...

> That list of school shootings includes someone firing a gun near a school, and someone shooting a cat a 3am, as well as an officer discharging his gun negligently. Nice list, not hyperbolic at all.

All of those things would make national news if they occurred in the UK.

Cool story! When we're talking about UK that will be worth bringing up.

In the UK you go to jail for defending yourself [0,1,2]. The UK police themselves tell you the only legal tool for self-defense is a rape alarm [3].

If you think it's good the UK government has made the choice for people on how best to defend themselves, that's cool. I understand how if you've grown up with that culture, it's probably difficult to understand the freedom of choice we have in the USA.

[0] https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1461346/Five-years-i...

[1] https://metro.co.uk/2017/12/11/pensioner-jailed-shooting-bur...

[2] https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-london-43639183

[3] https://www.askthe.police.uk/content/Q589.htm

You're making it out to be irrelevant, but the context here is why it might be given 'disproportionate' (through an American lens) coverage on the website of the British Broadcasting Company.

You make a quick slight-of-hand in this comment. You start off talking about how gun violence, as a whole, is at low historic levels. Then, you go on to talk specifically about school shootings. As far as I can tell, school shootings are at historically high levels.

It seems legitimate to report on that considering schools are places that parents send their kids every day and have historically viewed them as safe. Add that most schools are publicly-run institutions and you have an interesting story of children shooting children at government run locations. If that doesn’t seem newsworthy to you, the bias may be in your own interpretation.

>As far as I can tell, school shootings are at historically high levels.

And you are also wrong about that. [0] My comment wasn’t about number of school shooting - but narrative. You don’t hear about them unless they fall into a given narrative. You don’t question what you are seeing at all, just happily accept it because it fits your bias.

[0] https://news.northeastern.edu/2018/02/26/schools-are-still-o...

Ah yes, more slight of hand. In this instance, you have moved the goalposts to "mass" school shootings, only counting instances where 4 or more people were killed/injured. This list also doesn't seem to include shootings that took place at colleges, which are also schools (Virginia Tech, Northern Illinois and Umpqua come to mind). It almost like you don't question your source at all and just happily accepted it because it fits your bias.

Even if we just focus on K-12, you could download this [1] data from US Naval Postgraduate School and run a trend line all the way back to 1970.

[1] https://www.chds.us/ssdb/number-killed-by-year/

Yes, perhaps the study I linked to that from Northwestern using FBI Unified crime report sources, and a published data set you can examine - is biased and wrong.

While your source that has no data at all - that does seem more trust worthy. Not to mention rate vs incidents.

Your source was a news article from Northeastern, not Northwestern, about a study. That said, the study's data source is cited in the article as: "Fridel and Fox used data collected by USA Today, the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Report, Congressional Research Service, Gun Violence Archive, Stanford Geospatial Center and Stanford Libraries, Mother Jones, Everytown for Gun Safety, and a NYPD report on active shooters."

The source I provided is literally only data, with no editorializing. It comes from this source: "The School Shooting Database Project is conducted as part of the Advanced Thinking in Homeland Security (HSx) program at the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS)."[1] It also has a publicized data set you can examine.[2]

You are not biased at all, but anyone who dares disagree with you must be.

[1] https://www.chds.us/ssdb/about/

[2] https://www.chds.us/ssdb/dataset/

Another view on their methodology:

"The (K12SSD) table at right shows that the majority of “school shootings” over the last 48 years occur outside while on school campus. When tied in with non-shooting “school shooting” definitions, such as brandishing, we get a very different picture. By this project’s definitions, if someone on the sidewalk outside the school brandished a gun, that was a “school shooting”. Three percent of “school shootings” in the database involve no shots being fired at all. And if we include single shots (regardless of from where they came, or if they were suicides, or if they were late at night, etc.) those add up to 63% of all incidents."


I hardly think K12SSD's releases come "with no editorializing".

==I hardly think K12SSD's releases come "with no editorializing". ==

We could have a long discussion about what should and shouldn't be included in the data set. Should a bullet that hits a school building be counted? Should brandishing count? Should we only count incidents where people die? Does there need to be 4 or more injured? etc.,

The comment about editorializing was in reference to how one source was a news article interpreting a data set (the definition of a narrative) and the other was simply a data set.

You got rekt. Just let it go.

I think we Brits are finding Brexit extremely tedious right about now, with no sign of an end to it. Our government tried for unicorns and rainbows to achieve a better deal in leaving than we had as a member. The EU, obviously, have to ensure it's a worse deal than being a member.

I used to subscribe to the FT. It's pretty balanced in its reporting, with good news coverage. Surprisingly perhaps, without the bias you might expect of a financial paper. For a while I'd be surprised to see well argued pieces making a case for less inequality, higher taxes, or a universal basic income. Then you stop being surprised they're not just a vehicle of the Tory party, like the Telegraph and Times mostly now are.

What non-US paper though? In my experience as an Australian all of our papers are totally fucked. We don't have anything anywhere near as good as NYT or WaPo.

Crinkling News [1] was a surprisingly good Australian newspaper. It ceased publication in January 2018, but I gather they would reopen if they could find the money (Costs $200k/year to run?).

It was written for children, essentially the print equivalent of ABC's Behind The News bulletin [2]. The writing level wasn't too far removed from the "adult" papers (I gather broadsheets are written to a 12 year old reading level and tabloids lower than that). Articles were a mix of mainstream news and kid specific stuff. There were fewer articles than an adult paper, but was basically all there with the extraneous stuff removed. It was completely independent.

[1] https://www.crinklingnews.com.au/

[2] http://www.abc.net.au/btn/

The Saturday Paper is quite good. It's only a weekly, but really, there's usually only enough truly important stories around to fill a paper a week, which is why there's so much ephemera and filler in the daily news.

Typo. I switched to the FT for the exact reason you mentioned - at least somewhat neutral third-party perspective.

> Bias: every single one of them have bias. The burden is on me to spot bias and think objectively. Why do I have to pay do that? At least present news as it is?

This has always been and will always be the case. There is no possibility for objectivity; unless they compile every fact about the universe and present them all to you (quite a dull read), there’s inherently an editing process and selection of facts the writer thinks is important. You will, and should, always have to think for yourself. Even if news were presented in as dry a fashion as possible, you’d still have to think (or what’s the point?). And the facts will always be incomplete.

> At least present news as it is?

This is exceptionally difficult. My favorite example is choosing which photo to run for a story. Let's say a photographer take photos of Trump at an event. He has a photo of Trump smiling, a photo of Trump frowning, a photo of Trump scowling and a photo of Trump laughing. Which one is correct? They are all technically correct because they happened, but they all convey different tones, some of which will be completely inappropriate in the context of the story it runs with.


There was a very famous image of the UK miner's strike, at the battle of Orgreave, 1984. Another photographer captured the same scene that day. They give a very different impression.

Both images compared: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2018/dec/06/photogr...

I don’t get why people fall over themselves to point out the differences in these images. They both seems fairly neural to me.

It’s just that one doesn’t give much context, it’s just a miner.

Another problem with that example, at least for me, is that it is not apparent who is looking at who. It's a two dimensional photo and the depth of field is enough that you can't really tell which cop the miner is looking at.

One shows a miner and cop each grinning slightly. In the other, the same pair appear to be eyeballing each other. The second seems much more confrontational, to me anyway.

Use a montage of all four. That conveys the range of emotions of the event.

The journalistic emphasis in selecting just one ( viewpoint, photo,lede ) is partly why the news is so broken.

Then only run a photo if it helps explain the facts, otherwise who needs it?

If the photo supports the central truth of the piece then run it, otherwise you’re undermining yourself.

I think this is a common objection, but is it really so reasonable? Why show any image of ephemeral emotion at all? If you must include not strictly necessary multimedia, something that would be obvious would be a long range wide-angle picture of the entire venue.

It's similar to when people try to claim that journalism without bias in writing is not possible. No, it's very possible. See articles of the New York Times from decades ago. This [1] is the first article on what would become "Watergate" from the NYTimes. The article does nothing but provide a detailed and objective recounting of all information available. There is no speculation, and I certainly can't tell anything about the author's biases, political leanings, etc. And keep in mind that this is a huge event - that is what would eventually lead to the impeachment of Richard Nixon. That tempered and impartial reporting, over decades, is what gave the New York Times the reputation that it's rapidly destroying today. Imagine if that article was written by the New New York Times of today.

The problem of course is that that article is 'boring'. It's not going to drive a million clicks and be shared on social media sites getting those upvotes to get to the top which leads to even more clicks and even more money. Hacker News is definitely higher brow than most social media sites. Regardless, this [2] is a list of all submissions to this site from the New York Times. Go and see what gets upvoted and eventually makes its way to the front page (following are all 30+ point submissions from first page):

- Want to Stop Fake News? Pay for the Real Thing (nytimes.com)

- Opinion: A.I. Could Worsen Health Disparities (nytimes.com)

- Locast, a Free App Streaming Network TV, Would Love to Get Sued (nytimes.com)

- This is Your Brain Off Facebook - study offers glimpse of unplugging (nytimes.com)

- Another Side of MeToo: Male Managers Fearful of Mentoring Women (nytimes.com)

- Foxconn Is Reconsidering Plan for Manufacturing in Wisconsin (nytimes.com)

And so on. It's frequently sensationalized and hyperbolic reporting that often even starts the ball rolling with a fake title. No, AI isn't going to worsen health disparities. No, no company wants to get sued. And no, male managers are not fearful of mentoring women. And it's only downhill from there. Even the articles that seem real, often quickly expose they're just click grabbers. For instance the "Foxconn is reconsidering plan" states. The lead paragraph states,

"It was heralded a year and a half ago as the start of a Midwestern manufacturing renaissance: Foxconn, the Taiwanese electronics behemoth, would build a $10 billion Wisconsin plant to make flat-screen televisions, creating 13,000 jobs. President Trump later called the project “the eighth wonder of the world.” Now that prospect looks less certain."

Several paragraphs later you get, "Foxconn said that it remained committed to creating 13,000 jobs in Wisconsin and that it was “moving forward with plans to build an advanced manufacturing facility.”" In other words they are doing what they said they would do. This is not meaningful or good reporting. But it gets those clicks, and that's all that matters now a days.

[1] - https://www.nytimes.com/1972/06/22/archives/4-being-hunted-i...

[2] - https://news.ycombinator.com/from?site=nytimes.com

> It's similar to when people try to claim that journalism without bias in writing is not possible. No, it's very possible.

I couldn't put it better. I'm longing for the day someone creates a website that scans all news, detects and removes anything but the facts, and presents it to me as terse prose with a picture or two if strictly necessary. No ads. No cookies. No commentary. No opinion. Just the facts - all of them.

It's more likely the algorithm behind this will encode one person or organization's bias as objective truth based on a biased view of what a fact is.

- I am an 11 year old who is 9 feet tall and have won a Nobel Prize for my work in physics.

- Elephants are big.

Which one of these is a fact? English is unusually elegant in this regard. A fact does not mean true, it means something that can be shown to be indisputably true or false -- something that is falsifiable. The first statement is the fact. Because the second statement has no defined or falsifiable meaning it is an opinion. An elephant may be big compared to a mouse, but they're infinitesimally small compared to a planet. What does big mean?

In the New York Times' Watergate article [1] you'll find every statement made is a fact. Compare this to their writing on contemporary issues, particularly ones that are politically charged, and you'll find it's a night and day difference. The articles generally severely lack for facts and what facts are provided are often in the form of quotations which, in turn, are often non-factual.

Of course facts alone are not the end of the story. Facts can be misleading: 'Uber drivers were engaged in 47,341 more accidents including 27 more fatal accidents than all the licensed taxi drivers in New York.' That implies one thing, yet it omits a rather critical piece of information - how many miles did both drive? And there is also a bias in the stories that are covered. A news organization that chooses to only cover stories that reflect positively upon one side of an issue, or those that reflect negatively upon the other side, would be actively misleading their readers even if each story was independently factual and in no way misleading.

So aiming for factual reporting is certainly just a benchmark rather than the finish line. But it's really pretty easy to do, and it's something that'd leave us with magnitudes greater reporting quality than what we have today.

[1] - https://www.nytimes.com/1972/06/22/archives/4-being-hunted-i...

That first point sounds a lot like you've conquered the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gell-Mann_amnesia_effect

>"It's not clear that even reputed newspapers like NYTimes/WaPo produce quality content consistently."

Doesn't the Washington post charge for articles with named sources?

Almost every time I follow a link to them the source has been "someone familiar with the matter". However, one time I was surprised see there were actual names attached to the quotes, but they obscured most of the page and wanted me to pay a dollar to read it.

> It's not clear that even reputed newspapers like NYTimes/WaPo produce quality content consistently.

Example: Washington Post pushed the "Covington boys surround and intimidate native man" narrative that's been completely shattered by about 200 hours of video footage in the last week, and led to Twitter disabling the account that spread it, refutations (oddly enough from the NYT) and various apologies from those who came after the child on question.

That story is a perfect example of perception of a situation and how people view it in many ways. While you say the narrative is wrong, many feel the narrative was right.

No. Not at all.

Either the children surrounded the man and one boy stood threateningly close (as the Washington Post reorted at https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/01/20/it-was-gett...), or this did not happen.

As it turns out (Bari Weiss at the NYT viewed over 200 hours of footage) this did not happen. The man moved into the middle of the boys and stood very close to one of them. You can watch this from multiple angles and multiple cameras on YouTube and confirm this for yourself. David Brooks in the NYT also has an excellent summary: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/21/opinion/covington-march-f...

Reality is not a matter of perception.

I am not disputing the moments before and during. There is no doubt the events going on were a powder keg of problems waiting to tip off.

However my comment was about how that actual scene can be viewed differently by people, and is exactly what is happening. This is not a matter of scientific facts being disputed, it's an interpretation of a real life event that took place. Too many people, the scene of 30-40 boys yelling and acting how they did invoked a sense of fear and intimidation to them. Too many others, it was just 'boys being boys'.

The other reason people are so miffed over this is because of the actual people in it and the narrative. For one, a boys family had the means to hire a PR firm to help with the ordeal (again, a place of privilege). And two, there is so much hand wringing over this boy and this event, but for some reason when many young men have been shot or hurt by cops it's often met with negative depictions of the person hurt. You can call this whataboutism all you want, but that's the reality of it. Why in this instance where a boy and his group of friends, that are clearing acting up and provoking others (not even touching the negative nature of their hats), are given a free ride as 'boys being boys' but yet we chastise people who get in trouble with cops? Aren't those same people "just being boys"?

> I am not disputing the moments before and during.

You mentioned a fact was a matter of people interpreting a narrative. "While you say the narrative is wrong, many feel the narrative was right." That is not how facts work.

> There is no doubt the events going on were a powder keg of problems waiting to tip off.

Nobody is discussing whether there were "many problems".

We are debating whether children surrounded and intimidated an old man as reported by the Washington Post. We are doing so because WaPo was cited as an example of 'real news'.

That did not happen. WaPo was wrong.

> This is not a matter of scientific facts being disputed

Do you think the boys surrounded and intimated the old man?

You keep discussing unrelated issues without specifically answering whether you believe this happened or did not happen.

> You mentioned a fact was a matter of people interpreting a narrative. "While you say the narrative is wrong, many feel the narrative was right." That is not how facts work

I'm speaking to how some watched videos and felt they agreed with WaPo on the matter. There is no 'fact' to this story beyond an interpretation of events. This isn't a situation of clear cut and dry (like the recent released footage of the Chicago officer). It's people reacting to a situation and how it's making them feel.

> We are debating whether children surrounded and intimidated an old man as reported by the Washington Post. We are doing so because WaPo was cited as an example of 'real news'. > That did not happen. WaPo was wrong.

Your statements are perfectly proving my point. To people that scene and moment gave them a sense of intimidation. You cannot tell them their feelings and interpretation of the situation is wrong. If I walk up to you and stand in your face, and you tell me that it made you feel intimidated I don't have the right to go "Stop, you're wrong".

> You keep discussing unrelated issues without specifically answering whether you believe this happened or did not happen

Im trying to explain to you why that particular situation is not something you can clearly point to as fake news. I'm trying to paint a larger picture to the whole matter and why many took issue with it.

Since you're so hung up on the matter, yes to me I viewed the way those kids acted as intimidating and inappropriate. If I saw that many kids in a group, wearing those hats, and chanting the way they did I would not want to be near it.

> There is no 'fact' to this story beyond an interpretation of events.

Yes there is. Either the boys surrounded and approached the old man to stand intimidatingly close as WaPo reported, or they did not.

>> Do you think the boys surrounded and intimated the old man?

> that particular situation is not something you can clearly point to as fake news.

Yes it is. Things are real, or they are not.

You seem genuinely confused about the nature of reality.

Let's not continue communicating.

> Either the boys surrounded and approached the old man to stand intimidatingly close as WaPo reported, or they did not

The video clearly shows boys standing around a man, with one of them face to face with him. That is right in the video, clear as day. That is very much a clear fact. What you seem intent on breaking down is whether or not this was seen as some form of intimidation tactic and I'm trying to explain to you that people can, and do, interpret personal encounters like that in varying ways.

You seem to be one who can't understand the way in which people are able to react and interpret actions of people different. You asked me my opinion of the situation and then proceeded to tell me that my perception of reality is wrong. I watch that video and I personally feel that they are being intimidating, how am I in a 'confused nature of reality'. I am watching people confront each other and reacting to the situation.

Your whole argument on this video boils down to "your personal feelings don't match mine, so you're wrong".

> > Either the boys surrounded and approached the old man to stand intimidatingly close as WaPo reported, or they did not

> The video clearly shows boys standing around a man, with one of them face to face with him.

Did the boys surround and approach the old man to stand intimidatingly close as WaPo reported?

Answer Y or N.

> > You seem genuinely confused about the nature of reality.

> how am I in a 'confused nature of reality'.

That is not the what I wrote. I've included the real quote above.

I say that you're confused about the nature of reality because you repeatedly say a documented fact is a matter of perception, and cannot say whether you believe it is true of false.

We are on Hacker News right now. If someone reported we were having this conversation on Ars Technica, that would be false. That is not a matter of perception or feeling. This is how facts work.

Do you the footage of the old man approaching the group of boys and standing very close to one of them is fake?

Note this:

> > The video clearly shows boys standing around a man, with one of them face to face with him.

I suspect they've only seen the short context-less clip, not the actual video, and that's why they can't answer yes or no.

I suspect this too. Also

> If I walk up to you and stand in your face, and you tell me that it made you feel intimidated I don't have the right to go "Stop, you're wrong".

Makes me think they never watched the many videos of the old man doing this, not the boys.

But they said they watched the videos and it wouldn't be civil to say they're not telling the truth.

I honestly don't even know what you're arguing over anymore. You asked me questions, I answered them and offered context on my responses but yet you continue to tell me how I'm wrong.

>> Do you think the boys surrounded and intimated the old man?

>> Did the boys surround and approach the old man to stand intimidatingly close as WaPo reported? Answer Y or N.

>>Do you the footage of the old man approaching the group of boys and standing very close to one of them is fake?

You have not answered any of these questions. Instead, you've either changed topic or made up your own questions and answered those.

The issue is not that I think your answers are wrong, it's that your answers don't exist.

Please don't do tedious tit-for-tit flamewars on HN. You also crossed into incivility. That's not cool, and we've had to warn you about it before.

Hi Dan. Acknowledged re: tit for tat, I did try and end it earlier as you can see but got lulled back when the other poster misquoted me.

I was being very cafeful to be civil though - even though this is difficult with someone who won't give a firm opinion on something. I succeeded in that.

You haven't said I was uncivil before either - we've had a few discussions about articles I've written that have been on HN and you once disliked me criticising the Bay Area.

Email is in my profile if you'd like to discuss further.


I think the bit that struck me as uncivil was "You seem genuinely confused about the nature of reality."

Keep in mind this is someone watching multiple videos that everyone, regardless of politics, agrees depicts something, and the person is saying they depict something else. "You seem genuinely confused about the nature of reality" is the most civil way I could have possibly said that.

Please don't do tedious tit-for-tit flamewars on HN. They're not interesting except to the two people who are tangling with each other, and even then not intellectually interesting.


Example: The narrative in many news outlets that the Covington students were doing nothing wrong. Quote: "It’s not rape if you enjoy it." for example why that's not right.

Do you know what whataboutism is?

In many cases it's the same news organizations getting the story wrong both ways. It's a very interesting case study in bias. (and the power of PR firms)

Also I don't see how it's whataboutism when I'm agreeing with the general thesis.

Cool. I thought you were saying that it's OK to lie about bad people but you're not. Totally support reporting on anything that happened (and yes a kid said this)

Edit: it's not me modding you down, I think your second post was quite reasonable. I wish HN didn't downvote civil discussion like this.

I signed up for NYT and canceled the next day.

After becoming a paying customer they do not remove the ads from apps, pop ups on the website, etc etc. I was annoyed so I decided to cancel. The cancellation process was also quite annoying. Couldn't just do it through a form, I had to chat or call. I was on hold in the chat room for 35 minutes before someone got on and asked me what I wanted. At that point I was quite annoyed.

The person in chat was perfectly friendly and handled the rest of the cancellation process swiftly.

I am happy to pay for content but I'll be damned if I am going to pay and still be subjected to popups and ads between every paragraph.

The problem is that newspapers still make the majority of their income from advertising. This is why ads still appear after you're subscribed and logged in to their websites.

Shifting to a subscription-only revenue model is not an easy proposition, and requires a huge adjustment that most newspapers are not yet ready to make.

Source: I used to work for a major regional newspaper.

This is what I had always heard, that the price of the paper just covered the printing and shipping. It seems like all these papers already have advertiser contacts and should have been able to easily transition into an online advertiser only model.

and as far as paying for ads, I find it absurd that anyone pays for cable tv anymore.

I'm not a cable subscriber but I don't think it's a bad deal for the average American, especially families. DVRs have allowed cable subscribers to skip ads with a bit of planning and a slight delay in viewing for over a decade. This allows for unlimited viewing of the newest content on demand without advertisement. Basic cable seems to start at about $40/month which is about 2x more than having a Netflix and Hulu subscription while offering more movies, the latest season of every show, cable news, and sports.

I still pay for cable TV because

1) its my cheapest option to have local channels

2) of the DVR options (so I don't deal with those ads), it still has the best experience (tried Hulu, DirecTVNow, YouTubeTV) - YouTubeTV was the closest, but they inject ads you cannot skip in on demand programs and replace your "recordings" with on demand programs as soon as the network makes them available.

1) its my cheapest option to have local channels

cheaper than an antenna? Do you live somewhere with too much interference?

Condé Nast seems to have figured out a workable majority-subscription revenue model.


> “The New Yorker, which introduced a metered paywall in late 2014, generated about $115 million in paid-subscription revenue in 2018, up 69% from 2015, people familiar with the matter said. That revenue includes consumers who subscribed to the digital and print editions, although subscribers today no longer have the option of subscribing solely to the print magazine. The New Yorker’s regular renewal price for a print and digital bundle is moving to $149 a year from $119. The magazine will publish 47 issues this year.”

Granted, there’s a big difference between publishing 47 issues of long form writing a year, and 365 issues of a much longer daily-reported newspaper.

EDIT: not to mention that the Times and other big newspapers probably see themselves as informing the public discourse. It probably wouldn’t fly to put general newspapers behind a paywall, though the FT has greatly increased profitability with this strategy.

What's it like to try to unsubscribe from the new yorker? Do they still track you digitally and show ads with a sub?

It's similar to the newspaper. You still see the advertisements in the newspaper even though you paid for it. I guess it would be more expensive without ads.

I believe https://app.nytimes.com is ad free for subscribers (tablet-friendly version of the day's paper).

Full disclosure: as my handle implies, I'm one of the co-founders of presscast.io. Obviously, I have a horse in this race.

I want to point out that advertising doesn't have to be intrusive. While this isn't appropriate for an independent journalistic institution like the NYT, the vast majority of for-profit publishers actually can continue with an ad-driven model without degrading their site's experience. One solution is to accept paid contributions to articles by advertisers with actual expertise in the subject matter. For e.g. marketing or tech periodicals, this works quite well.

> One solution is to accept paid contributions to articles by advertisers with actual expertise in the subject matter. For e.g. marketing or tech periodicals, this works quite well.

Advertorials are an even worse solution than ads.

Agree. What I'm proposing here is something closer to "paid expert contributions", to an otherwise non-advertorial piece.

Obviously this needs to be properly disclosed, but the result is very different from an advertorial, i.e.: _actual_ expert commentary on a well-researched piece.

> Obviously this needs to be properly disclosed, but the result is very different from an advertorial, i.e.: _actual_ expert commentary on a well-researched piece.

No. If an advertiser is paying to publish it, it's an advertorial, full stop. Why would they pay to produce and publish an actual quality article that doesn't push an agenda in some non-journalistic way? It's literally the job of advertisers to push an agenda.

I have a NYT digital sub and I never see any ads or anything. I think uBlock Origin is required, when using any website, even for websites you pay for.

I had the same setup (uBlock Origin) and I just cancelled my subscription over ads. Not because I saw any, but because every NYT web page had a static (did not scroll) gray banner telling me to disable my ad blocker.

And then when I couldn't take it anymore and went to cancel, their retention department had the gall to suggest the message was not from them and maybe was from my browser.

Fuck you, New York Times. Paying subscribers should not see ads or be hassled to be tracked by the ad industrial complex. Raise your prices if you have to.

As a counterpoint, I use NYT + uBlock Origin and never see a banner about disabling the ad-blocker.

In general though, I agree that paying customers should not be subjected to ads. But as someone who worked in the news industry (quite some time ago now) I don't think newspapers have learned that lesson yet or can afford to do that.

This cancellation via phone seems to be a common practice with all subscription newspapers.

I just subscribed and added an ad-blocker.

If I wanted to cancel, I'm not going to be able to call though, as I live in Australia. I thought there were laws in some states of the U.S. that meant you have to be able to unsubscribe through a form though?

I'm confused, why can you not call a US number from Australia? Is it prohibitively expensive?

In the UK it would certainly be _annoyingly_ expensive, given I'm calling because I want to stop spending money on whatever. I'd expect a connection fee + ~£1/min + rate they charge an American caller, and you know you're going to be kept on hold for ages.

It's bad enough calling to complain/cancel a local company - I've paid several pounds a time; I certainly avoid it if at all possible, and would more so with an overseas company.

Yes, it would. There is also the time zone difference.

might also be the time difference. You'd have to wake up pretty early to catch 5pm.

I think I've heard that Direct Debit isn't really used in America? Certainly subscriptions I have based there are only recurring card payments.

If I was going to have to go through that to cancel my subscription to a British newspaper, I'd just cancel the DD - a few taps in my bank's app.

I can't help but drawing a parallel between the news industry and software industry here. People hate paying for software for a reason; an expensive solution is not necessarily better, and there are tons of unscrupulous business practices in the software industry. Furthermore, most people can't discern quality software and bad software (especially when it comes to invisible elements like reliability and security). The same goes for news organizations. We (at least some of us) don't know what's quality journalism, and even in a reputable news organization there's some shady part. We've lost faith to them and thought that we deserve something better. I don't know. I'm paying for NYT for now as well as paying for crappy software that I sometimes use grudgingly. Maybe it's an age thing, but I can't go radical and dump everything just yet. I feel that our new system (whatever it will be) isn't going to be drastically better than the current ones.

"The impact on journalism has been clear. Just within the past week, we have seen over 1,000 planned layoffs at Gannett, BuzzFeed and HuffPost"

I had never considered the click-bait outlet "HuffPost" as "quality journalism".

"We can start with the fact that “free” isn’t a good business model for quality journalism." Well, paid journalism is not a guarantee either: http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/claas-relotius...

Stopped reading after this. Whining does not suit the NYT well. It is an outstanding newspaper and has basically, also thanks to the internet, a world wide audience. It is better prepared to the changing business model as most other newspapers. Whining here about google and facebook is rent seeking.

I'm just incredibly baffled by what you're proposing the solution is if its not a cultural shift towards paying for content? In an exclusively programmatic ad based market, the only long term winning strategy is to write click-bait and fake news.

We should all be extremely concerned about what the writer is getting at. If you're going to call it whining, and say they need to change their business model, what should they change it to?

I think there are a couple of issues here.

If we shift toward paying for content, is there not going to be a market for subscriptions to fake news as well as subscriptions to real news? Paying for content alone doesn't solve the problem of fake news. How does Joe Average even know which subscriptions are the right subscriptions? Please don't let an algorithm decide for them.

In terms of payment itself, I feel the going rate is a big issue. Checking the NY Times just now, they're asking $5 per week of me for a basic subscription. Let's make the math easy and call that $250 per year, and assume four subscriptions are needed to be sure we have a well rounded intake, giving a $1000 per year news budget. For a person with a net income of $100k+ per year, maybe this is not a big spend. But for people on lower incomes - who I would argue are likely the people most susceptible to fake news - this becomes a much greater expense and will discourage them from subscribing to anything. Compared to freely available news, it would be putting disadvantaged people at a even greater disadvantage, and let's face it - in a democratic society, I'd rather everybody have access to the same information, than know half the population is making decisions based on garbage. Garbage in, garbage out.

In terms of what the new model should be, I don't think I have any answers. I just know that I have a budget for news and it is not in the order of a thousand dollars a year for a well rounded intake, however I also want everybody to have access to the same news, so I don't think paywalls are a good idea.

> If we shift toward paying for content, is there not going to be a market for subscriptions to fake news as well as subscriptions to real news? Paying for content alone doesn't solve the problem of fake news. How does Joe Average even know which subscriptions are the right subscriptions? Please don't let an algorithm decide for them.

It doesn't solve fake news, except that subscriptions might keep the production of real news economically viable. Internet-ad revenue probably can't support real journalism at all. It's too labor intensive.

Real news is expensive to produce, you have to pay reporters to spend their time finding the facts; fake news is cheap, since lies can be made up in your pajamas.

It's easy: better, and less, content.

The internet makes it that they don't need to fill pages and pages every day just to be tossed into the trash bin. A year old article can still be valuable, and it can be augmented with additional sides and updates. It just takes diligence and work, not to mention setting up publishing and formatting abilities way beyond the average cookie cutter CMS. Investing in their own production processes and technology, in other words.

But nobody's doing that. They're just making the churn more efficient. At most they'll link to some previous articles, forcing you to do the sifting yourself, and only linking one way.

By the time a newsworthy event reaches mainstream level, it's already been going for a while. That's the point at which I'd want to read a brief one pager of backstory, before diving into current events, surrounded by more context. Take the conflict in Syria: it might just be me not paying attention and being too busy with other stuff, but I genuinely missed when that started. When it did enter my radar, everyone was talking about it like we all knew how it happened. Well, if you take a random person on the street, someone who was upset at the (staged?) pictures of a dead kid... How many can tell you what that conflict is about and get close to the truth? I bet it's incredibly low, the only difference is I'm being honest about my ignorance instead of doing the stupid primate thing of pretending to be in the know in fear of looking foolish (and, I guess, western propaganda being just that when it comes to these subjects).

There's your hole in the market. That's what people want to pay for: not being the person who can't join in on interesting conversations. Well, are our current journalists up to that task? I very much doubt it, cos most have no ability beyond being a newsperson, jacks of no trade at all. Instead of letting experts do the talking, we're letting self important pretenders do it, and then, mostly to push an agenda.

The Quillette expose linked here about the geneticist bullied into suicide should lead us all to ask: why are we letting these morons tell us anything? They just want to enter industries and scenes they don't know, mine them for brief moments of relevance, and leave behind a wreck of human dignity. All over a ten minute talk they couldn't be bothered to understand, because bullying a sperg was more useful to them.

I agree with this. The 24/7 news cycle ruined us in many ways, even print.

I’d rather have a journalist spend a week on a story (or more) and give more context instead of basically rehashing what was said by both sides.

I like The Atlantic, as it is mostly long form, not breaking news, but the impact of social media and 24/7 news has affected it as well.

Either way, I think the more you focus on the larger picture through long form journalism instead of the daily machinations, the better informed we will be and less spun up all the time.

> setting up publishing and formatting abilities way beyond the average cookie cutter CMS. Investing in their own production processes and technology...

I need to point out that the NYT is doing this. They probably have one of the more advanced CMS setups and their tech team puts out some really interesting things as well.

As to your other point, I want to see good, factual, long form content, but a lot of people will not read that. They only want the headline and bullet points. So newspapers need to adapt to that and ensure the main facts are presented right up front, but then have the detail and back story for those that want to do a deep dive.

"I'm just incredibly baffled by what you're proposing the solution is if its not a cultural shift towards paying for content?"

I am not in the news business. Nor am I am in the diesel motor business. It is not my task to suggest solutions to a changing business environment. The NYC can now, thanks to the internet, deliver its content to a world wide audience. A paywall can be easily established. I pay for good news (e.g. "The Economist"). For institutions like the NYT or "The Economist" it would take quite some skill to screw this up. The market may move into "the winners take it all" direction.

I agree that free news is a problem to many newspapers. Fake news are another problem. But solutions like screaming for government subsidiaries (e.g. in Germany) or getting fees from google or facebook are not solutions. Taxing eCars to pay employees that produced diesel engines to save jobs is not a solution either.

If you don't want to get indexed by google because you are afraid they "steal" your content, then this can be solved by one line in your robots.txt file

And it is really hard to ask for redistribution of common news without any further added value.

Wether you want it or not, you are in the news business – as a Customer, that is.

Since that business is integral to democracy, it would seem we all have some stake in its success.

"Wether you want it or not, you are in the news business – as a Customer, that is."

Thanks for clarifying this for me. Based on this, there is nearly no business I am not in. Does that make me a businessman extraordinaire?

I dont consider BuzzFeed as quality either. Wishing a meme producing site wasnt sharing the name as whats supposed to be a news site. My other issue is when they dont properly check the source of a story like the MAGA teens whom they claimed were doing things they clearly were not if you saw the full video.... Fake News goes both ways... If the "mainstream" media wont check sources better then they are just as much a part of the problem.

BuzzFeed News produces pretty good news reports. It's not the same as BuzzFeed proper.

Why BuzzFeed chose to use the same brand to cover such different sites is beyond me. Every time a quality article is linked here, almost without fail there is someone who will comment along the lines of "BuzzFeed is trash, I'm not clicking that"

I don't blame them. It's not their fault that the news site decided to share their name with a trash clickbait site.

I've noticed how prevalent the "BuzzFeed News isn't BuzzFeed, it's totally different and actually does some decent journalism" meme has been in the past couple years, to the point where I caught myself explaining it to someone that way, with zero first-hand knowledge, just repeating the meme more or less verbatim.

Isn't it precisely their fault for choosing that name and branding? They are not blameless for the title they chose.

Unclear on my part. “Them” refers to commenters who associate BFN with the listicle site.

It is the fault of BuzzFeed News, yes.

Yep. Especially since communicating clearly is exactly their job.

I acknowledged this in my comment, I also raised a concern about quality of reporting. Sure they can have some good apples, but the bad apples are the ones that poison you.

Look at what BFN wrote about Austen Heinz in the Quillette story also submitted today, for one example:


Huffington Post occasionally has deep and (what looks like) well researched articles though.

It's a real mix and that's my problem. I want to pay for something that's good. I don't need all the bullshit filler, and in fact seeing the bullshit filler makes me not want to pay at all because it's an insult to my time.

Look at what HuffPost wrote about Austen Heinz in the Quillette story also submitted today, for one example:


It's an Op-Ed.

I paid for a newspaper and the only thing factual was the cartoons. Fake news has been around longer than the Internet. Look at Supermarket tabloids. Look at all of the journalists being fired now.

Fake news is paid for with advertising and collecting info on the readers. Sometimes you have to pay for it as well.

Newspaper I paid for reported falsely that a friend of mine's parents had neglected their spinal meningitis daughter and she died. They rushed her to the hospital in their van knocking off the rack on top to get her help because they couldn't wait for an ambulance. She died anyway, and they charged the parents even if they did everything correctly to save her. From that day I learned of fake news.

I was involved with a news event that the local news covered once. They got pretty much every fact wrong. It wasn't due to bias (for example, they described the building as a "warehouse" when it was an obvious office building), it was just sloppiness and failure to check any facts.

It made me skeptical of news ever since.

You don't really understand how accurate the media is until they report on something you know a lot about. Journalists are generalist laymen with strong incentives to be sensationalist and alarmist. Well researched journalism made by somebody who spent long enough on the story to understand what the hell they're talking about is legitimately rare. Uncommon would be an exaggeration.

One of the things that irks me is the rhetoric that Trump-era distrust of the media is somehow undermining democracy or whatever. If you aren't distrustful of the media you are a naive and dangerous fool. I remember the overwhelming majority of US mainstream media pushing the Iraq war with stories that relied on bias and bogus sources. Interviews with officals & experts that had skin in the game. Blind faith in the media is even more dangerous than the also dangerous posture of not paying any heed to what they have to say.

> Newspaper I paid for reported falsely

> they charged the parents

So the newspaper just reported the fact that they had been charged?

> From that day I learned of fake news.

You learned to label things you don’t agree with as fake news.

I'm more than willing to bet that the newspaper vilified the parents. It seems to be happening more and more frequently.

Yes the paper vilified the parents who had done nothing wrong. Kick them when they are down sort of thing to sell more papers.

The parents were not neglectful, they took care of their daughter and took her to the hospital as soon as they noticed the trouble.

Parents were not charged with neglect until after the article was written saying they neglected their daughter. There was no neglect just dirty laundry.

> > had neglected their spinal meningitis daughter

Want me to pay for real news? Be worth paying for. 90% of "news" (like everything else) is crap that isn't worth supporting. I am not inclined to subsidize the good things by paying for bad things.

That being said, I do wish google or some other search engine would get better about favoring original sources rather than other sites that just take stories and rewrite them. I hate seeing a headline to a story only to find out that it is just re-reporting what some other site reported. Often it is a game of telephone where site A rewrites a story from site B that rewrote a story from site C.

If a search engine could find a way to return the original site first then it would help highlight original reporting and make re-reporting less worthwhile.

I think most commenters here are missing the point of this op-ed: it's not to convince people to pay for news content, it is to promote legislation that allows the author's News Media Alliance to form a cartel that is exempted from anti-trust regulations, so they can try to force Facebook and Google to pay them directly. His organization spends of a lot of time over these past couple of years railing against Google and Facebook, and take note that the true target of this article is not consumers of news, but Facebook and Google.

The author of the article, David Chavern, since he took over the reins of the News Media Alliance, has argued that media cross-ownership rules are antiquated, that greater consolidation of news firms would be beneficial to citizens.

"A new op-ed from trade association News Media Alliance’s president and CEO David Chavern dismisses the contributions of leading tech services and argues publishers should form a cartel and extract rents by implementing controversial new regulations. In reality, though, leading tech services have taken great steps to empower publishers in the Internet Age, while the “cartel solution” would do little to bolster innovation."

link: https://springboardccia.com/2019/02/01/nmas-cartel-solution-...

It seems like The NY Times could do this by separating tiers. Let me subscribe to the magazine, which has good long-form journalism, separately from the breaking news daily machinations that the average person doesnt need to pay attention to.

I would love to pay for real news, but I can't find anyone making it consistently. The New York Times at its best produces "mostly believable" if slightly confused material, and at its worst outright propaganda.

I agree. One of the most consistently fact-based publications I've found it Financial Times, though it's pretty dry.

FT is probably the highest quality newspaper in the world. They do charge a premium though.

Didn't the NYT have the dark pattern of being one-click subscribe, yet made you fill forms and emails and physically call them to unsubscribe? (At least up until a few months ago, last I heard)

Stuff like that is an absolute deal breaker and turns lots of users away from subscriptions entirely, before even talking about article/content quality.

That is indeed a huge problem. I would happily pay hundreds of monetary units a month for journalism, but I want to be able to stop when I want.

There's also the awful "1,99 a month!" line of advertising that only tells you it's actually 39,99 after you click. I might actually be willing to pay that price, but not after being made a fool.

Also, if you work in media, sell me a completely frictionless day pass. Without the need to create an account. Sometimes I just want to read that one series that I found interesting, and it's not worth 29,95 and the hassle of maintaining another account and unsubscribing later.

Cancelling an Amazon account takes about an hour of redirects and customer retention chats and emails. I decided not to subscribe to some papers for that reason yesterday

What do you mean by "cancelling an account"? The last time my prime subscription expired they just let it happen, has that changed? Or do you mean deleting an account, which is completely different from cancelling a subscription?

I subscribed to the NYt via iTunes. There you can remove the subscription just as you would any other (eg Apple Music).

I want a service where I can subscribe to journalists not news papers. I want to know that they are getting a portion of my subscription and being successful. I want 0 advertising in this news paper.

Where do I get it? Is this something we need to create? I'd love a fact check o meter on each journalist as well, but I think that'd be very open to bias, so I don't know how that'd happen.

Anyway, I don't subscribe to newspapers because I don't like their model, not because I don't want to support the journalist. I have no clue if I'm missing a massive part of how the newspapers actually front a lot of money to make journalism better by paying expenses for journalists. I'm no expert on the ins and outs of journalism. I just see a lot of crap reporting that doesn't hold water and I'm tired of reading op-ed pieces falsely labeled as journalism.

I tried building a version of this in 2015 called Uncoverage. Beacon did too. Not enough people cared enough to support individual journalists. real stories take too long to write, all journalists need editors, and the value prop feels unfamiliar and seems thin for subscribers. Some are trying now on Patreon.

I think that's an important point that you'd have to support a small group like, editor/journalist combo.

I imagine you could get a pay scale based on page views, and a model where if you don't use the subscription you get ads.

It'd be interesting to see built.

I was also thinking it'd be nice to see recommendations separated from the hosting. I guess there just aren't enough people interested in it.

That sounds like your feed would become a series of blogs by the same authors. Perhaps if kept under the thumb of a responsible organization and editor that could work, but in my experience whenever a respected reporter goes off to create their own blog their writing tends to devolve into fringe posts crafted just to please their niche audience.

You are correct. I think that introducing more silo's into a system would be a bad idea.

I was thinking about this last night and I think it'd be interesting to see authors actually have to cite another post that has a good strong counter argument to theirs and point out places where they disagree. It probably wouldn't work on a systemic approach but might work if an individual with this sort of temperament did it.

Despite not liking their model do you still read their articles?

Yes - but I'm not subscribing to 10 news papers. I try to reference CNN, NBC, ABC, MSNBC, Fox News, NPR, Bloomberg, Guardian, NY Post, NY Times. I will even read some of the alt-left and alt-right stuff as well.

I find there are some journalists I'd like to block and never read their trash again from each paper and some I would like to go back to over and over again. (Chris Wallace is a good one)

The fact that I can't get consistency from any one of the above is frustrating and I'm not paying 10 bucks a month per newspaper, the most I'll do is turn my ad blocker off.

I want to give journalists my money, but I don't want to give a newspaper with a single agenda my money.

(as per my other post) crowd sourced investigative journalism... money gets pooled and goes directly to the journalist doing the research...

plus a reputation system

that's it, that's all we need to change right now... seriously, it will work

How does the reputation system work? And what depends on it?

I can't name many journalists off by heart. I'd like stories (or writers) to be rated based on quality (the way StackExchange does with answers) so that I never have to see the chuff. I don't care if the content comes from a trained journalist or a blogger who happens to be a subject matter expert.


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