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Left, Right & Center podcast also tries to address this. They pick a topic and try to get both sides of the argument.


To me, picking a single topic and trying to get to the bottom of it seems like the approach that journalism should take (and advertises itself as taking, I'm quite sure), but the reality is anything but (in my opinion).

I was excited when @oceanbreeze83 said:

> For any news junkies heres, I've built https://maagnit.com which gathers both Left and Right leaning sources [for any story] and displays them altogether on one page.

But unfortunately, I see nothing that does that on a per-topic basis.

> Left, Right & Center podcast also tries to address this. They pick a topic and try to get both sides of the argument. https://www.kcrw.com/news/shows/left-right-center

It looks like these guys are actually taking a shot at it, but then if I pick a topic that I know is subject to extremely propagandized (framed) reporting, ObamaGate, something that I happen to know a fair amount of lower-level detail about (but for from everything, it is an insanely complicated topic), and read their overview:

>> https://www.kcrw.com/news/shows/left-right-center/obamagate-...

>> President Trump is very upset about Obamagate. It seems to have to do with his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn — who the president fired after he lied to Vice President Pence and the FBI, and who pleaded guilty to charges that the Department of Justice is now seeking to drop. Is this a really important political issue? Or is this just President Trump’s effort to talk about anything besides the pandemic.

...I don't get a very strong feeling that what follows is going to be a sincere effort at truly "getting to the bottom of it", as much as is possible.

But this is just an intuition, I'd have to listen to the whole 55 minute talk before forming a tentative conclusion.

I find /r/NeutralPolitics to often be quite good on many topics, due to their very well thought out approach:

>> What is Neutral Politics?

>> Neutral Politics is a community dedicated to evenhanded, empirical discussion of political issues. It is a space to discuss policy and the tone of political debate.

>> Is this a subreddit for people who are politically neutral?

>> No - in fact we welcome and encourage any viewpoint to engage in discussion. The idea behind r/NeutralPolitics is to set up a neutral space where those of differing opinions can come together and rationally lay out their respective arguments. We are neutral in that no political opinion is favored here - only facts and logic. Your post or comment will be judged not by its perspective, but by its style, rationale, and informational content.

>> Neutral Politics is strictly moderated. Our full guidelines are here: https://www.reddit.com/r/NeutralPolitics/wiki/guidelines <--- Very much worth a read for those who are genuinely interested in learning more about how a "purely rational" society/organization should approach controversial topics. I would say that this is "how Journalism should be done".

Unfortunately, they seem to have only one post on the ObamaGate topic.


The submitter's question (see link for specifics) seems like an excellent way of approaching the question, in that he provides an example of how each side is framing/spinning the story, and then proceeds to ask a fairly awesome 5 part question on the matter. The post doesn't have much in the way of comments unfortunately - it's only 21 hours old, so maybe some will roll in eventually, but I suspect we'd have seen something by now.

Regardless, the fact that someone recognizes the true problem and is trying to do something about it, and there are 295,123 subscribers to the subreddit, is quite encouraging. But I wouldn't get too excited about the notion that this grassroots effort subreddit will get enough traction and subsequent publicity to make any serious change in the world. For that, I think any initiative needs help from famous people who will repeatedly promote it via their social media channels. But my intuition tells me that most people are so unconsciously biased, that they would be reluctant to do this, as (I speculate) the mind will sense significant risk in promoting an unbiased platform, and therefore decide against it.

I think this is the very same underlying subconscious phenomenon that @TulliusCicero and @dang are talking about in this post, but from a bit of a different perspective (italicized emphasis mine):


>>> (@dang) The underlying phenomenon, I think, is that people feel insecure in an internet forum, especially a large one, because the sheer quantity that shows up there is bewildering and our wiring did not evolve to process anything like that. Instead of seeing it as a statistical cloud produced by thousands of people (which is what it really is), we interpret it as the productions of a small group of individuals (which is how we're wired to see the world). Since that's such a distorted interpretation, those imaginary individuals seem weird and dramatic in our imagination. Either they seem super smart (because of all the information we had no idea of), which makes us feel dumb, or they seem monstrous (because of all the views that seem outrageously wrong or offensive), which makes us feel surrounded by enemies, if not demons—and so on. Because these feelings are uncomfortable, we end up creating an image of the community that we can diss in order to restore our sense of equilibrium towards it. The problem is that if everybody's doing this (and I think we all do it to some extent), it makes community really hard.

>>> (@dang) There's a long sequence of past comments on a related mechanism here: (see link above for two searches he references).

And also, while /r/NeutralPolitics have wrung about as much value as possible out of the generic Reddit reddit technical platform, I suspect doing this "right" is going to need a completely new platform, designed from the ground up specifically for this purpose. I assert that this is the most complicated problem mankind has ever had to address, it makes flight, putting a man on the moon, or splitting the atom look like a walk in the park. But if we ever hope to solve it, people will first have to realize the magnitude and complexity of the problem they are dealing with.

If we ever want to get the current state of affairs on this planet sorted out, I think some truly(!) independent organization, and platform, that is completely controlled by "the people" is an absolute pre-requisite. But I am not terribly optimistic that we will ever get one, at all, or that gets enough traction to make a difference. Just taking many of the comments in this thread as an example, it seems clear to me that there is significant intuitive opposition to a purely fact-based, freedom of speech approach - by this I am referring to how so many people frame/conceptualize this approach as a ~"false equivalence", that it gives the two sides equal "respect", something that does have some truth to it, but the manner in which people describe that problem is typically by picking the most extreme strawman example they can conjure up (exposing their subconscious bias in the process, imho).

Just a few examples (chosen at random, not the worst of the worst by any means):

> When I was a kid CNN used to do this: they would invite a single climate scientist and a single climate change skeptic and have them make their points on equal time. CNN would then say “who’s right? You decide.” And the program would end. This was extremely harmful to the overall mission of informing people and created a false balance between sides which are not equally valid. Today, this is almost universally seen as a failure of journalism.

> "Of course there are reasons why a gubernatorial election should not be decided by a ski race, but are there also reasons why it should? For the sake of fairness, we’ve brought in two experts with opposite opinions, who will now have equal time to just say those opinions, because that’s what news is."

> For example does it make sense to present advocates for science and pseudo-science on the same level, with equal weight? Putting a Biologist who explains Evolution on the same pedestal on equal time as a Priest who believes in Intelligent Design creates a false sense of balance between these viewpoints, even though these viewpoints are fundamentally different in their very basic quality.

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