Journalism and Propaganda

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Journalism and Propaganda

Postby Thesh » Thu May 09, 2019 7:34 pm UTC


idonno wrote:I have now read manufacturing consent and my questions have not changed. In fact, it is my opinion that the issues discussed in that book back up my questions.

1.3 acknowledges that it is more expensive to report if you don’t just take information from sources which are presumed credible and explains how the government currently takes advantage of this to provide their version of “credible” information to the media

So the question to ask here is what information is available? Where is the false information coming from? Where can you get good information? As for it being more expensive, keep in mind that Manufacturing Consent was written in 1988 when people were being served by daily newspapers and we didn't have the internet. The dynamics have changed significantly here.

So with Venezuela, if you are on social media, you can post links to coverage from Democracy Now. If someone is talking about Maduro and the failed socialist policies, link them to a website like FAIR: ... n-america/

The second thing that needs to be done here is that the articles on the topics need to be put into a database, summarized, and analyzed. Academics need to put together research showing how this misinformation spreads. The public needs to be informed, and activists on social media need to push back against the narratives. The more data we have, and the more clearly we can lay it out, the fewer people it will affect. The first goal is to try and insulate progressives from the propaganda itself.

idonno wrote:1.2 Blatantly points out massive issues caused by using advertisers for revenue.

It is not simply a question of whether advertisers corrupt, it's a question of whether those advertisements result in a conflict of interest. If you have a foreign policy journal, for example, then advertising for entertainment is not going to be a problem. This is less of a problem with cooperatively owned media as well, because the people who run it represent the people who want to be informed rather than the people want to profit.

I hope I've given you enough of a starting point to understand the problem.
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Re: Journalism and Propaganda

Postby Zamfir » Thu May 09, 2019 10:09 pm UTC

So with Venezuela, if you are on social media, you can post links to coverage from Democracy Now. If someone is talking about Maduro and the failed socialist policies, link them to a website like FAIR:

But that is also the main vector for fake news - people on social media who say "don't trust the mass media, read this instead". There is no mechanism that makes such referrals go mostly to reliable sources. Perhaps yours do, but ten others might not.

It is also hard to check the reliability of such sources. For example: Wikipedia tells me in its third alinea that Democracy Now is funded by billionaire foundations. Everything in the US seems to be funded by billionaires, so this could be true. If I click on one of the sources for that, I end up at "where's the change Obama", a website that claims to offer working-class criticism of the mainstream American left. In particular, it tells me that Democracy Now was funded by the same people that helped the CIA to infiltrate labour unions in the 60s. Is that true? Is it relevant? How do I find out?

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Re: Journalism and Propaganda

Postby Thesh » Thu May 09, 2019 10:36 pm UTC

That is the purpose of the database I mentioned. It allows you to track information by journalist, publication, and subject and develop a clearer picture of biases. You can monitor social media for bad sources, provide tools like browser add-ons that flag articles that are dubious, or automatically block bad sources, and work to counter misinformation wherever it is. Create groups on social media that seek to aggregate content from good media sources.

Venezuela is a harder case because you have the center on board with overthrowing the government. When it comes to issues mainstream media is more willing to report on, you can publicly shame the journalists in mainstream media who you can identify as bad actors or just poor journalists. You might call and write publications to complain and try and get them fired, or complain to advertisers if they are unresponsive.
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Re: Journalism and Propaganda

Postby Chen » Fri May 10, 2019 10:25 am UTC

I like the idea of the database thatyou mentioned. I think one of the main problems is getting people to look at said database.

Take something like urban legends and social media “chain letters”. It is extremely straightforward to check Snopes for things like this, yet they get forwarded to me ALL the time by various family members, despite directly pointing this out. They are not dumb people (for the most part) but its more like a lack of caring or lack of willingness to do some due dilligence.

I guess the basic question is how do you get people to care enough? With the pervasiveness of social media I think at least a first step is adding this type of discussion to the lower level edication curriculums. People need to be put into the mindset of fact checking things. At the same time the database that was mentioned and other tools like browser addons (that you also mentioned) need to be put into place so people have the tools to be able to do thay fact checkinng.

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Re: Journalism and Propaganda

Postby ucim » Fri May 10, 2019 3:36 pm UTC

Chen wrote:I like the idea of the database thatyou mentioned. I think one of the main problems is getting people to look at said database.
Yes, and the other main problem is getting people to trust the database. Many of the people that I know that don't check Snopes don't do so because they know Snopes is a bunch of liberal fake news that can't be trusted. They (the ones sending out the forwards of {whatever}) know that what they are sending is true.

1: Who will vet and maintain this database of "true facts", keeping the alternative facts out of it?

2: Why should we* trust them to do it right?
---> * anybody who would be expected to look up a suspect "fact" to see if it's true or not

3: If you were "on the other side" (a purveyor of alternative facts), how would you co-opt the database (or people's trust in it)?

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Re: Journalism and Propaganda

Postby reval » Sun May 12, 2019 3:37 pm UTC

"Newspapers that supported Douglas edited his speeches to remove any errors made by the stenographers and to correct grammatical errors, while they left Lincoln's speeches in the rough form in which they had been transcribed. In the same way, pro-Lincoln papers edited Lincoln's speeches, but left the Douglas texts as reported." wikipedia

With partisan media, at least you know which slant you're getting from which source. That can work if the mediators have at least some willingness to respond to criticism and facts. But more importantly, it presupposes the existence of parties and media that are willing to represent a given reader's interests.

What we actually have is a situation where one party represents the 0.1%, another party represents the 10%, nobody represents the 90%, and every alternative is increasingly called "fake", pushed off feeds and search results, defunded, given higher latency and lower speed, and made inaccessible, even in public libraries, through censorware like NewsGuard. Sure, there is fakery out there, but anyone who preempts a decision on what is "fake" - well, they are preempting your decision for a well-funded reason of their own.

And the actual answer, of course, is net neutrality and universal uncensored internet access.

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Re: Journalism and Propaganda

Postby ijuin » Mon May 13, 2019 5:28 am UTC

One thing to do is to have the foundation which manages this database start giving out awards for honesty/integrity in journalism--sort of a Pulitzer Prize for truthfulness. This would bring name recognition and some prestige to the foundation, even if political opponents will still decry it as biased against them.

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Re: Journalism and Propaganda

Postby ObsessoMom » Mon May 13, 2019 2:00 pm UTC

Relevant article this morning in the New York Times:

How a James Comey Tweet Fueled a Conspiracy Theory That Upended a California Town

The background:

Scott Maddock, the principal of the Grass Valley Charter School in Grass Valley, Calif., was unaware of the conspiracy theory when he arrived at work on a normal-seeming Monday morning late last month. But when he checked his voice mail, he heard from a man identifying himself as “a patriot,” alerting Mr. Maddock to the “threat.”

“He was warning us that something was going to happen at our Blue Marble Jubilee school fund-raiser and that we should contact the authorities,” Mr. Maddock said. “He kept saying that he is not behind it, but he has a credible source.”

Mr. Maddock wasn’t sure what to make of it. The message, left over the weekend, was nearly three minutes long, repetitive and inarticulate. But ignoring it wasn’t an option.

“It puts a pit in your stomach and a weight on your chest that you can’t just shake as something that’s just kind of crazy,” he said.

Out of an abundance of caution, he contacted the local police, who visited the school, recorded the message and began investigating.

It didn’t take long to unearth the roots of the threat, preposterous as they were.

Two days earlier, on April 27, Mr. Comey had shared a tweet listing a handful of jobs he had held in the past alongside the hashtag #FiveJobsIveHad.

Hundreds of others had done the same before and since, but a small fringe group of conspiracy theorists seized on the tweet, claiming that it contained a coded message.

By removing letters, the hashtag could be shortened to “Five Jihad,” they argued. And a search for the abbreviation formed by the first letters of the jobs he listed, G.V.C.S.F., led to the Grass Valley Charter School Foundation, whose fund-raiser was scheduled for this weekend.

Mr. Comey, they concluded, was broadcasting an attack, perhaps as a distraction from other pending news.

The Grass Valley police quickly determined that the theory was baseless and that the school, with about 500 students from prekindergarten through eighth grade, was under no threat.

“We definitely did our due diligence,” said Alex Gammelgard, the chief of police. “Every single potential piece we did pointed to the same thing: that it was not credible.”

But word traveled fast in Grass Valley, which is home to a population of about 13,000 people.

Mr. Maddock and Wendy Willoughby, the president of the foundation, had started to hear from parents who were worried not about the predicted attack, but about the people who believed in it.

What if one of them showed up, armed, to protect against a threat that simply did not exist, as had happened at a popular Washington pizzeria two years ago? At the same time, some members of the community vowed to attend the event in order to provide protection.

After several sleepless nights, Mr. Maddock, worried that the event could spiral out of control, announced last week that the fund-raiser was canceled, as reported by The Sacramento Bee.

“This is an event with children’s games, and activities and face painting, and a student art auction, and live music and food, and just a real community builder for us,” he said. “I didn’t want the flavor of the event to be suddenly tainted by people that were showing up for all the wrong reasons.”


I immediately thought of Angua's current sig quote:

Angua wrote:Crabtree's bludgeon: “no set of mutually inconsistent observations can exist for which some human intellect cannot conceive a coherent explanation, however complicated”

Two views of how such misinformation should be handled by the mainstream press (bolded):

One of the first people to warn the school about the false conspiracy theory was Mike Rothschild, a researcher who had watched it gain steam online, its signal boosted by increasingly high-profile Twitter accounts.

“I saw it unfolding, and I recognized immediately how bad this could get it,” he said. “And ultimately it happened.”

He had urged the school not to cancel the event for fear that those who believed in the conspiracy theory would claim victory (they did), but in the end Mr. Rothschild said he understood why officials made the decision they did.

Such theories have received much attention in the press over the past year or so, but they remain on the fringes, said Rob Brotherton, an assistant professor of psychology at Barnard College who has long studied conspiracy theories.

Giving them oxygen, even while debunking them, can nevertheless allow them to grow, he warned.

“It seems to me, having studied these things for a long time, that giving it this kind of platform, even when it’s clearly framed as ‘this conspiracy theory is not true,’ is only going to raise its profile,” he said.

But Mr. Rothschild disagreed with that sentiment. “This is happening whether or not we write about it,” he said. “The first time you encounter this should be poking a hole in it.”

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