Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Mainsteam News vs. The Web

In my previous post, I referred to the lack of reliability of the major news outlets. Scott Rosenberg in Salon covered this topic recently, and he did such a great job that I've decided to simply quote him at length. He discusses a particular instance when Stanford Law professor Lawrence Lessig of Creative Commons took issue with inaccuracies and false, black/white dichotomies in a NYT article about copyright and piracy. I'll let Rosenberg take it from here:

"This disillusionment happens every day, even with publications at the top of the heap, like the Times, the Post and the Journal....We're happy with what we read in the paper until we're reading about something we know really well. Then, too often...we see all the small errors, distortions, omissions and problems that are daily journalism's epidemic affliction."

Rosenberg then lists some of the reasons for these problems, including deadlines, lack of in-depth knowledge, and slant. He continues:

"Until recently, each reader who saw the holes in the occasional story he knew well was, in essence, an island; and most of those readers rested in some confidence that, even though that occasional story was problematic, the rest of the paper was, really, pretty good. Only now, the Net -- and in particular the explosion of blogs, with their outpouring of expertise in so many fields -- has connected those islands, bringing into view entire continents of inadequate, hole-ridden coverage. The lawyer blogs are poking holes in the legal coverage, while the tech blogs are poking holes in the tech coverage, the librarian blogs are poking holes in the library coverage -- and the political blogs, of course, are ripping apart the political coverage in a grand tug of war from the left and the right. Within a very short time we've gone from seeing the newspaper as a product that occasionally fails to live up to its own standards to viewing it as one that has a structural inability to get most things right."

I couldn't have said it better myself.

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