I think they are optimizing for survival.
Serious news is expensive, and at this point, a niche market. Few people would consume it (or even be capable of doing so), even fewer are ready to pay the real price of it.
So they did the next best thing: they changed to please the market in a way that makes money. Grabbing a lot of attention, as cheaply as possible, so that you can sell it to the highest bidder.
You think it is self destroying, but only if you see it as from the point of view of a body that should inform people. But as a group that needs to survive, it's a working strategy. Certainly easier to implement than finding a novel way to survive doing the right thing.
Infortunaly, this will lead to suffering for the entire society. But that's the way our economical system work. It assumes that the markets balances things out. Unfortunatly, the common good is not something most individuals prioritize, or even conceptualize, when buying things. Often, they actually can't, because their survival depend on more pressing day-to-day matters.
I suspect that's correct. It's hard now to find any news outlet now that sticks to "Who, What, When, Where, Why". This is a consequence of pay per click, probably.
The left and the right now both have a checklist of mandatory positions required to avoid punishment. Those positions are in many cases contrary to fact. That's not good. Denial has become a core part of American politics.
When was the news ever "Who, What, When, Where, Why?"
It's always had a slant as long as I remember. Here's "the most trusted man in America" calling ror the U.S. to get out of Vietnam:
What is that if not a partisan political opinion?
The news has always chosen what and what not to report. Just deciding what is and isn't newsworthy is a political decision. Heck, my conservative friend used to read the Wall Street Journal. I'm talking when we were kids (10-12) I'd argue with him about whether Reagan was a good president. I thought even then he had a highly colored view of reality and I'm sure he thought the same of me.
BTW, I don't think the problem is the press. I think it's a lack of open-mindedness, critical thinking, and healthy skepticism. We get what we deserve by not educating our kids better about how to consume information and consider view points outside their own worldview.
What was partisan about what he said? He made no mention of US political parties. He simply said that the war was failing and it needed to end. May I suggest you are projecting your partisanship onto this?
Objective journalism is not about giving both sides an equal voice. It is OK to use rationale and logic to support one side over the other. Should all journalism about evolution also include equal time for creationism?
You don’t have to give time to things that are objectively untrue, but a fair journalist should acknowledge when other opinions exist.
Saying, “I think we should get out of Vietnam. People are dying, we’re spending too much money, and we’re probably going to lose” is bad journalism. Saying, “According to a recent poll, fewer than 40% of Americans support the war in Vietnam. Commonly cited reasons for the lack of support are the death toll, the economic cost, and that there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. Most supporters of the war say we should continue fighting otherwise all the soldiers that have given their lives will have died in vain” is good journalism.
And yes, a journalist covering the creationism vs. evolution debate should research and interview people from both sides. If you don’t then you’re writing an opinion piece and not doing journalism.
But I'm not sure I see why journalists should try to be strictly objective. A journalist is in a unique position to identify the BS, provide analysis and context, and help the reader understand what to make of the competing narratives.
I really enjoyed, and highly recommend, a recent podcast on this subject: http://www.sceneonradio.org/s4-e11-more-truth/
Some journalists that specialize in a particular field become experts, but it takes time to learn. Journalists don’t have some secret way to learn faster than other people.
Journalists do get training in interviewing experts and writing. That’s what they should stick to. Just like we really shouldn’t pay attention to a celebrity’s opinion of an issue that they don’t have special training in, we really shouldn’t be paying attention to a journalist’s personal opinion- we should rely on them to talk to experts and convey information, but their ability to form an opinion isn’t any better than yours.
It’s true that they may not be experts in everything that they report on, even if it’s their niche. Eg I think Kara Swisher does a reasonably good job of representing technology related things but there’s things she says that are not really true.
However the one thing journalists do cover well and have good expertise in is current event and politics. They are closest to the sources. And thus they become pretty good at identifying BS in those narrow fields at the very least. Given that, I certainly value their “take” on what the current events portray.
They are only "good" at this because so many of them worked on campaigns and there's a revolving door between that campaign work and the politics desk at media organizations. That isn't a badge of honor, or a signal that they know what they're talking about. It's a mark of partisanship, and they try their best to cloak it when they do their reporting ... but then they go back to the campaign when their guy is running.
He may not, but having been through the grinder (on both sides), I do. I'm not even talking about the Ben Rhodes' quotes about them being young idiots.
> However the one thing journalists do cover well and have good expertise in is current event and politics. They are closest to the sources. And thus they become pretty good at identifying BS in those narrow fields at the very least. Given that, I certainly value their “take” on what the current events portray.
Funny. Meet Gell-Mann Amnesia:
The Vietnam War was started by a Democratic administration and continued by a Republican one, through several Congressional midterm elections. It was a bipartisan effort, so I don't see how having an opinion on it, for or against, can count as partisan in the sense of advocating for one political party over the other.
Well this is Hacker News, if you phrase it as a question about are we living in a simulation they will take it seriously, but of course a simulation would imply someone or something running it...
My point is that there was never an "objective" news that didn't fall somewhere on the left/right spectrum and which colored how that source presented the news.
> Objective journalism is not about giving both sides an equal voice. It is OK to use rationale and logic to support one side over the other.
I agree. But don't you think that reporters at The Atlantic and at the National Review both think they are doing that? Or NPR vs Fox News? And yet they present very different views of the news.
> Should all journalism about evolution also include equal time for creationism?
You won't find me arguing for that.
If we had an algorithm to sort fact from fiction then that would be fine, but we don't. Our method for sorting fact and fiction is to ask an expert. Experts are not reliable in political situations because there are experts who are willing to believe anything for money.
Particularly for economic questions where it is likely that the experts have a financial stake in one political outcome.
People of course have wildly different standards w.r.t what "better" means.
And once shaped, the goal is hard to change. It takes more than facts or logical arguments to change one's idea if what the ideal world looks like. It's part of your identity, it's intertwined with your community.
If a scientific finding in evolutionary biology which undermines some previously fundamental aspect of genetics or the timeline of natural selection (a finding which Creationists would exult in promoting and probably exaggerate for their own biases) is not given its due time in the trade journals then yes, we'd have a serious problem. While I realize this may not quite be what you meant, because Creationism simply isn't scientific, evolutionary biology as a matter of being a human endeavor is certainly subject to bias in publication.
Ideally a concept like "getting out of the war" could be a non partisan concept. Back then perhaps, but in 2020 definitely, there's no room for that. Maybe because of the internet, maybe because of cable news, I dunno, but even a single stated position plops you on the right or left in America. Sure it's not ideal but it's reality.
If only Republicans knew how many American communists were pro-armed-populace. If only it were possible to be conservative and reconcile your preference for self sufficiency and blue collar values with the ideals of people living on a commune, or the Green and Sustainability movements. But no, Climate Change is Fake News and Guns Are Bad. Full stop.
That was an op-ed piece. It's fine for media to do op-ed if it's identified as not news; the most trusted papers have done it forever. Real journalists (tm) can absolutely do neutral, fact-checked, 5-W, reporting on one story and then express an opinion in a different column:
"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function." -- F. Scott Fitzgerald
The problem with journalism today is not opinion, but that we’ve allowed “newsish” to pose as real news, to the extent that people can’t tell the difference. And on top of that I don’t think people are generally equipped well to recognize opinion as such.
Nowadays I follow American news channels for entertainment (both CNN and Fox Bews are soooooo skewed). I usually go to CBSN or AlJazeera for 'boring' unskewed news.
I think one of the things ailing us is that cynical partisans have been quite successful at pulling ever-growing amounts of our lives into this gravity well. Dry, straight, factual news has its place--but it also leaves a narrative-vacuum that partisans will happily fill.
It's been going on longer than the internet era. My dad jokingly blames entertainment tonight for starting the entertainment news trend, and while I don't think that's likely the reason, it does show an apt comparison. News has definitely become more like entertainment tonight, for nearly as long as entertainment tonight has existed.
It's a problem when every news broadcaster reminds me of fox news from the 90's and they're now actually considered a proper news outlet.
Now for people that have noticed a distinct decline in news quality over the last ten years specifically, this may have something to do with it.
In 2012 restrictions were lifted by the government banning government disseminated news, essentially propaganda to the American public.
Since then, there's been a big push, by both sides of the media, to tell their approved stories. These companies lobby the shit out of the government.
Both the government and news companies have it in their best interests to keep major news organizations as shallow entertainment willing to spout whatever the message of the day is.
It's not much better than if the news was state run media, it's just hidden a lot better and government and private interests share the same goal.
The internet effectively broke this model.
No news outlet has ever really done that (and why is usually a matter of subjective ascription, rather than fact, anyway.)
The illusion of unbiased news comes from a time when the major national media were a small set of corporations with largely similar institutional biases, and when advertising was less targeted so number of eyeballs was more important than a narrow, focussed audience, passionate, demographic, favoring a blander presentation and more effort to avoid offending any large group, rather than trying to appeal very strongly to a narrow, specific group.
I blocked CNN from my phone because checking it repeatedly all day gave me high blood pressure.
1) You believe that the press did a good job during this unusual period.
2) You consider some of the sins of the past to be the fault of partisan press, at least in part.
By optimising for user engagement, media is ignoring the effect it has over society at large.
This is actually an argument for government sponsored news outlets implemented in a politically neutral manner; i.e. the television shouldn't just be a mouthpiece for the state/the ruling party.
For an example of state-financed but politically independent organisation, one can look at the civil servants system in the UK.
It may not even be possible for them to cover politics in a "neutral" way, because anything but the party line on a political issue is heresy to the partisans. If you gave people the hard truths on partisan issues you'd have both sides trying to shut you down because everything you said would be contradicting one side or the other.
This is the same ABC that reports on the BLM protests in Australia, is happy to parrot the 434 Aboriginals have died in custody since 1991, but fails to include the facts:
58% of deaths were due to natural causes
32% of deaths were due to hanging
5% of deaths were due to drugs/alcohol
4% were due to external trauma
In total, 9 Aboriginals have died in custody from unlawful acts from custodial staff. 10s of thousands of people are violating social distancing orders, because 9 people have been killed unlawfully since 1991. The ABC AREN'T REPORTING THAT. Instead, they have activist after activist deriding the system that is killing black men.
It's all bullshit.
In 2019, the Australian Institute of Criminology did a study on deaths in custody, and its conclusion was:
Indigenous people are now less likely than non-Indigenous people to die in custody, largely due to a decrease in the death rate of Indigenous prisoners from 1999–2000 to 2005–06.
So don't go around telling people the ABC isn't biased.
EDIT: To be clear, this doesn't mean there aren't things we should be doing better, given that Aboriginals make up 28% of the prison population, its just that the current narrative openly being pushed by the ABC and others is pure, unadulterated bullshit.
Case in point about the difficulty in covering politics in a manner most would consider neutral.
Or both. Both American parties are full of contradictions.
The very definition of an oxymoron.
He said everyone thinks they want the news to be deeply insightful and informative, but the people who would consume that product tend to go out nights and do interesting things like attend ballets or go to museums, or go to things like the aspen festival. Or at least they are just reading a few articles online.
They make news for the sort of people who just binge television news constantly. These people don't have a custom rss feed to make that efficient, and that is a special type of person.
"We run the market test against PBS every night."
If PBS started hitting numbers, every other station would jump to that model immediately.
The reason is clear. While there is distraction, the real issues are unaddressed and they can keep putting their hands in your pocket when you aren't looking.
Also, excessive pseudo-socialism is a great tool to drive down wages and have the whole world compete against each other. Locust capitalism.
Also, I see your account was created an hour ago.
As for the pseudo-socialism part, I have no idea what it could mean either.
Example: The US healthcare system. The financing is through socialist policies (Medicare, state assistance, regulatory requirements/incentives for employer-provided insurance), but the system itself if thoroughly corrupt and inefficient.
Example: "Affordable housing" subsidies/requirements. Instead of actually addressing high housing costs in general, set aside an inadequate amount of substandard housing with burdensome hoops to jump through to get it and call that a solution when it isn't.
Example: Environmental rules that apply to where a product is manufactured but not where it's sold, so that instead of eliminating pollution, manufacturing jobs move to countries that allow pollution.
The half measures are the worst of both worlds. You get the inefficiency, incompetence and unaccountability of central planning and the externalities, corruption and high prices of market failures.
Thats just socialism.
The definition of socialism is social ownership of the methods implemented. In all cases above, the public at large owns the cost (and benefits) of the methods implemented:
Medicare, Medicaid, affordable housing etc. We all pay for them, full stop.
Just because some of the programs have worse outcomes than elsewhere in the world, doesnt make them "less" socialist policies.
Socialism is meant to be a counter-force to unrestricted capitalism. America lacks this counter-force. Instead, America has a (so called) Left that is afraid of being branded "socialist". Because they cannot embrace genuine socialist policies for fear of upsetting their very wealthy and powerful patrons, they are trying to win votes by appealing to people's pathological tendency to form rival tribal groups. This is quite the irony, considering that socialism's original rallying cry was the (inherently trans-tribal, trans-national)"Workers of the World, UNITE".
True socialism looks for opportunity in horizontal social partitions (the social classes), whereas nationalism looks for opportunity in vertical social partitions (ethno-linguistic and religious segregations). This is why nationalism is the capitalist class's preferred evil -- it directs the dissatisfaction and anger of the lower classes against each other, away from the wealthy. Both the American Left and American Right are focusing on the vertical (tribal) partitions -- it's just that the Left is very polite and composed about it.
This is what (I believe) the GP tried to imply with the term "pseudo socialism".
Accurate. Agreed. And a completely fair business decision. We all have bill to pay.
Unfortunately, they (wrongly) continue to sell this new version of their craft (?) as journalism. The masses buy in - confirmation bias is a powerful force - and we are today exactly where we should be: Truth is fluid. Editorial is journalism. Everyone - blue, red or orange - gets hammer their facts into their echo chamber. Etc.
It's important to realize that there is no democracy or democratic process without a health and proper Fouth Estate.
Btw, Tali Sharot's "The Influential Mind" is a great read on the subject on influence.
Edit: their to there. with to without.
How is the general public supposed to learn what is happening though? If the entire MSM had adopted this new business model, and with the whole fake news thing that's been drilled into people's heads for so long, along with the narrative that anyone that disagrees with trustworthy organizations is a conspiracy theorist...is there a path out that consists of anything other than a major player committing financial suicide by breaking ranks, or them all deciding to come clean simultaneously?
Bloggers might be the one bright spot, but what percentage of the population reads blogs, and if they started to get too popular they may be framed as conspiracy theorists before long too. Not a good situation, unless you're China or Russia.
If you happen to see this late reply and have any recommendations of such people, I'd appreciate any suggestions you could make.
That's a good question. In theory I'd like to suggest they think. That is, develop critical thinking skills and some basic analysis skills. Yes, it's a big ask. But it would be useful across the board. Basics such as: confirmation bias, correlation vs cause, conflict of interest, and such. These skills are not as common as they should be.
That aside, broadcasters and publishers should be required to label news as news and editorial as editorial. Anecdotally, many people don't understand the difference, or why it matters. It's difficult to have discussions when "the facts" most people cite are based on editorial opinion. Sadly, hammer that option often enough and loud enough and it becomes "true."
Even so, it's a massive problem. There's still too much wiggle room for senders to "baffle them with bullshit." (See below.)
Editorial: My definition of news is: facts that are not only true but are also relevant and important. Anything - true or not - that doesn't meet this standard - again, to me - is fake news. In other words, when important and relevant stories are buried with trite fodder, the fodder is fake news. Just because something happened, just because some is true doesn't make it news. The sun coming up again is not news.
It is not about the economics of the American Press, it's about the lynchmobs that have formed around thoughtcrime and the sometimes public hounding of people who don't push the proper narrative.
There might be economic factors intertwined with the push for more groupthink, but I think there is a link missing in the chain of logic from this article's subject matter and your reply.
I agree with you entirely except for this. For the poor, yes. But there are plenty of people the more pressing day-to-day matters is not survival but how to hoard even more wealth and advantage than they already have. Like sending their children to private schools despite that only exacerbating the already gross iniquities of life for poor children vs elite children. Or figuring out how to upgrade to an even nicer house or which gentrifying neighborhood will yield them the best returns in 10-20 years once it is fully taken over.
This is why NYT is going to stop growing if Trump loses in November. With no need to resist there is no need to subscribe
NYT's most passionate tribe is not the Left, they're not left enough for them. But they're not playing to a tribe, but the passion itself. Seattle is no longer front page news for the NYTs because articles talking about hippies sitting around in drum circles not beating people up, or being beat up by police, is boring.
I’m not an American, so no horse in the game - but this is obsessive.
But TFA isn’t about bias so much as the the left leaning press eating itself with doctrinaire purges.
Slow down. This is the hackernews equivalent to "yada yada yadaing" over the real stuff. You say points big and silly you can't backup. I work at a business news organization, and know someone who just left WSJ. Now, think again how you'd tell them face to face they're niche? You're gonna tell them how the media business works? Like what are you going to say?Are you claiming FB is a new organization? In fact, are you really saying anything at all?
Those issues are important, but what I find most concerning about your reply is "the way our economical system work".
You're either not in management, are an incredibly crappy manager, or don't know anything about it. You do it for the money like some lame reach for that Tesla R&R refrain to argue for lower intellectual (ethics/morals) standards ... that's the beginning of the end for organizations ... what you fail to get is that other organizations who are not so easily sold your sale of good will be still doing the news and fighting the good fight.
Those who understand money the best and make the most over the long term know best money is NOT the measure of all things.
I mean, those kinds of market failures are exactly what large parts of "the left" are frequently highlighting.
If only subjectivity is true, society must fragment. Everyone forms a different view -- unity is lost
Do people just want to pay and read opinion. Or do they seek a reality truth
The second goal will succeed no matter what newspapers do
It's not working though. A lot of people canceled their NY Times subscriptions after the "Send in the troops" op-ed. Massively pissing off your customer base like that is not a winning move.
If a group of supposedly "peaceful, law-abiding protesters" is going to make the revolting moral equivalence of corrupt cops to properly behaved cops, they shouldn't complain when they themselves are considered equivalent to the worst among their group.
David Dorn, a black ex-police officer, and 14 other people died due to the unhandled looting.
If they would have sent National Guard in to protect storefronts those deaths would have never happened.
Those peaceful protesters deserve protection from the looters as well btw.
I don't care if they want it or not, if they don't, they don't know what's good for them.
Scanning the google results for “nyt subscribers” I see them reporting 5 million in Feb and 4.7 million in Aug 2019, so it looks to me like subscriptions have been accelerating in recent months.
Can you please share the information you have regarding mass subscription cancellations due to this op-ed? I would like to see it.
Seems like a fireable offense to print something you didn’t read, when it is quite literally your job to.
Notice how they didn't say HOW the OPINION piece didn't meet their standard.
The whole thing is absolutely bizarre
But as a whole, it's working.
They are just copying each others, because they can see what works and what doesn't. But because everything has a context, and luck is involved, they will be many dying anyway.
Reducing the cost could be one way to compete with "non-serious news".
Then you have to actually write in such a way that the reader/viewer gets only a series of facts, and any inferences or opinion they draw should be their own.
That ain’t cheap.