The Truth, The Whole Truth And Nothing But The Truth

Posted by

There is a reason why traditional media professionals will have a hard time making the transition to a new media world.

Just the other day I got into a debate with a seasoned traditional journalist about what the new media means. This individual is still in a highly coveted and well-respected position, so I was surprised by their core thesis as to why we can’t trust new media. Ultimately, it boils down to the cold, hard fact that new media shows little to no signs of accountability. Traditional media (newspapers, magazines, radio and television) check their sources. There is a process to how news is created, curated, edited and then produced for mass consumption.

The Internet is an equalized place where any one lunatic’s opinion resides on par with those of the professionals.

Afterall, you can’t trust anything you read on Wikipedia, but you can be fairly certain that what you’re getting out of The New York Times is accurate. Is WikiLeaks the future of media or pure evil? It’s an easy debate to get sucked into. It’s easy to start discussing how often the respected traditional media gets it wrong (check out Regret The Error by my good friend, Craig Silverman). It’s easy to look at the owners of these large media outlets and make a direct correlation between their political leanings and the partisan slant of their media outlets. It’s easy to say that the mass populous needs us (because without us they will believe anything and everything). It’s easy to not like, respect or understand something that threatens your very vocation.

We are moving from a world of fact to a world of opinion.

Maybe that is the new reality. Maybe that is the new truth. Maybe we are moving from a world of "fact" (as traditional media had delivered it) to a world of "opinion" (where Blogs, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and more act as a platform to spread ideas, but it’s incumbent on the reader to check the sources for themselves). There were always three sides to every story (and a couple more beyond that), so in a world where any one individual can publish a thought in text, images, audio and video instantly (and for free) to the entire world, we are in dire need of a new definition for the words "media," "journalism," "credible source" and more.

That is a paradigm shift.

What if society has already dictated this creed? What if society is fine moving from this world of fact to a world of opinion? Who is the mass media to say to us that a book review in The New York Times is any more credible or relevant to us than the one that Sarah from Carefree, Arizona posted to Amazon? Are the masses too stupid and lazy to make up their own mind?

What’s good for us, being fed the truth through mass media or the masses of opinions from all over the place or a hybrid of both?


  1. Dictatorship is never good. Thats how its been and we have all followed along. The time is now to share and be heard. We still respect the journalist but we want raw feelings and thoughts. It makes our artificial media world “REAL”. To grow and develop as a society we must enable people to share their thoughts and feelings. We will do our own research and make our own conclusions on the information gathered. Thanks Mitch.

  2. everyone has an agenda and the trick is to find it out. It’s not about your opinion on a specific book, that has little to do with matters of substance. In those cases I’m hoping someone has both access, intelligence, and integrity to reveal something close to the truth.
    Watergate, Enron, examples of good traditional journalism. WMDs in Iraq and warning signs of the financial crisis are abject failures.
    The more we accept quantification of “Influence” the more we turn social media into a goat rodeo of potential manipulation, either unethically or because its a social medium where playing nice is rewarded and being critical is a risk.
    the problem of No large independent media resources is those in power or who want power then control the message. There is no reason for them to speak with the “media” because they can get their message out unfiltered. In fact you can see it now where conservatives and liberals play to their audiences on Fox and MSNBC. We only need 51% people, too bad for the rest.

  3. The argument of “checking it sources” all but disappears from the traditional media’s journalist high ground as more and more tradition media use twitter and the like to feed their news cycle. I think the question “old media” needs to ask itself, is how can they offer content that is unique. Offer something I can’t get from the online world; be in depth of research, balance or making the story research transparent for readers to review, they need to find that service that I want to pay for or perish..

  4. Look at FoxNews’ success competing against CNN. Firey opinion masked as fact easily trumps the competition.
    Even ESPN fills its afternoon schedule with endless roundtables offering insight, analysis and opinion on the daily headlines instead of actual sports action.

  5. your theory is admirable, let’s put it to a test. Who is on your local school board? Who did you vote for district judge and why? Rhetorical questions if you like and even if you answered correctly you are in the minority.
    We (average little ol’ me and the rest of us) don’t have the time, knowledge, and perhaps dare I say intellect to filter the truth in every issue. When it comes to buying a car it’s not the big a deal, I’ll take someone’s opinion, make a decision which will ultimately be overruled by my wife or daughter.
    But what we call journalism today I’m not sure is better than the early days of Cronkite and Wallace.

  6. To assume “new” media can’t be trust and “traditional” media can in every case is a ridiculous notion that no one can really believe is true. Idiots reside in every medium. So do brilliant smart reliable and credible people – including those working on that new fangled interwebs.
    It’s a rather smug stance when someone can snuggle safely behind an accredited media brand and claim all that streams from their keyboard is well researched, well sourced gospel while anyone who is creating media for the digital space is a hack.
    Hey, a media hack, perhaps 😉

  7. Increasingly I am seeing journalism becoming worse in traditional publications as well. Not because they don’t check sources but because sometimes the wisdom of crowds is more accurate than the wisdom of 1 journalist.
    I don’t think there is anything wrong with finding out the truth from a variety of sources (or crowdsourcing) but a distinction should be made between fact and opinion. The grey area in-between is the problem and many of the masses are too lazy when they see something in print to be objective. They think “fact” and continue on with their day.
    We may be as you suggest in a transitional period. An interesting question could be can mass media make a living on opinion like they currently do on fact?

  8. Nice article, Mitch.
    The reality is that much of the time, all we are hearing is opinions and not truth at all. But it’s always been that way.
    Should kids be spanked or not? Is breastfeeding good or bad? Are our streets actually safer than 10 years ago?
    It all depends. The three sides thing, as was well said above.
    The traditional guys used to be credited with being the compass of this world. I think that finally people realized “holy cow, they’re just like us!” and/or “holy cow, this was totally agenda-based”.
    I also think they can compete effectively if they deliver content and opinions that are “more” credible, “more” balanced, and “more” realistic.

  9. It’s a slippery slope and, in the spirit of most things we discuss here, it’s more likely the old, “everything is ‘with’ not ‘instead of'” chestnut that I keep roasting. That being said, it’s more of a philosophical question: driven by the idea that there are real truths but they are increasingly harder to find (imagine a fact-based article… it would probably be written bullet-point form). We have changed as a society to one where it’s the opinions that seem to matter more than the facts (see: Glenn Beck).

  10. And, once again, this leads me to believe that we’re in a world of opinions versus a world of facts. One side says something (be it online, or wherever) and the other side comes in with their opinion. From there, the traditional media does some snooping around and comes up with a “balanced” story. The facts like somewhere in between all of these opinions, and sometimes the important facts (think immunization) get buried… and that’s also not a good/helpful thing.
    In order to give “balance” a lot of traditional media is giving too many quacks their “side” – which isn’t much of a side at all in the spirit of appearing balanced. Some stories don’t need balance… they need the facts to be very clear.

  11. I’m gonna have to disagree with you on this one Mitch. The lack of accountability isn’t a new media weakness, it’s been apparent in old media since there was a media. Why do you think people are leaving the old media in drones? Can’t blame technology for all of it. There are plenty of studies and polls to show that people are trusting old media less and less. This is due to so much opinionated news and lack of fact checking.
    You say “Traditional media (newspapers, magazines, radio and television) check their sources.” Really? That’s impossible to believe when documentation abounds on the Internet where they get things wrong and/or deliberately leave things out. You don’t have to look hard to find it, but you do have to look. Those that are denying this simply don’t want to believe their darling media could ever do wrong.
    The line between the “professionals” and the lunatics is nill. When was the last time you watched one of the so-called professionals spout off their opinion on Sunday morning or in a NYT op-ed? After watching an hour of that it’s no wonder their ratings are tanking. It’s getting harder and harder to see the fact in anything the media is saying.
    We are not moving from a world of fact to a world of opinion. The news is opinion. The dictionary and almanac are fact. We are simply moving from one format to another. To believe we are moving from fact to opinion would mean that America on a whole has no ability to perform critical thought.

  12. My worry here is that we turn this into a traditional media vs. new media debate and that’s not where I really want to focus my energy. Both still have value. Both are still valuable to consumers. I’m more interested in the spirt of the content: the idea that we’re shifting from truths and facts to opinions and ideas.
    Whether it’s traditional or new media – all parties must produce compelling content or they won’t be much of a media channel regardless of their platform.

  13. Traditional media is recognizing this shift and creating content that is similar/closer to the types of content we see on Twitter, Blogs, Podcasts, YouTube, etc… We have to be cognizant that our news “talking heads” are becoming more and more opinion based instead of fair and balanced.

  14. Traditional media wants the same ethics and standards for the new media. That’s fair if they are producing the same kind of content. What we’re seeing is that the content is not the same. It’s not the same in terms of how it gets created, edited, published and distributed. Not to mention how it is consumed, shared and collaborated on.
    If we’re reporting on facts, do we need standards? Of course we do. Every piece of content anyone produces should have a baseline desire to be credible.

  15. As Buzz demonstrated above, we’re already seeing them do it. Look at people like Glenn Beck and beyond. It’s more one-sided and skewed than anything we have seen before. It’s almost surprising that there’s not a backlash from press councils and more to put a disclaimer stating what is opinion versus fact.
    What does it say about our society when The Daily Show (which is supposed to be a parody of the news) is more fair and balanced than the actual news?
    Interesting times.

  16. Agreed on getting “more” – that is their golden parachute (if they should decide to pull the chord). It’s also interesting that Blogs and platforms like Drudge, Huffington and beyond (including WikiLeaks) have also helped the masses open their eyes (just a little bit more) – which, hopefully, will spark some of that “more” you’re driving at.

  17. I don’t think we’re disagreeing at all. A lot of those sentences had an overbearing sense of sarcasm (on purpose) to illustrate how each sides perceives itself. When we had no choices (3 channels, 1 newspaper and a couple of radio stations), we took that world as fact. As media shifted and then new media kicked open the floodgates, we learned what you so eloquently stated: “We are not moving from a world of fact to a world of opinion. The news is opinion.”
    I wonder how many people realize this? We use this platform to shine a light on how we all think and are doing things – specifically the things that few are talking about. Imagine a newspaper article on this topic? I know, it’s laughable… we’d never see it. So, we have this dialogue here.

  18. Grassroots has gone mainstream. And that’s a great thing.
    Mitch – great post. This reminded me of my days working in community radio. In the days before the Internet, we avoided mainstream news sources like the plague knowing that a few mighty agencies created the same news that was processed and filtered down through the little guys. We went straight to the source for the “truth”…the small independent community-based sources wherever the news was happening. News from the source and giving a voice to the little guy. Reporting the stuff that mainstream media either neglected or purposely avoided. That was our goal. And it worked pretty well. Hmmm, does this mean the end of community radio?

  19. facts are simply the opinion of the majority. It was a long time ago when journalists could be trusted to tell the full story. At least with new media there is always an opposing opinion or 2 whether true or not.

  20. Going Big Picture on you Mitch. 45% of the population are Sensate Judgers (see meyers-briggs). These people are open to believing things against all facts, logic, or reasoning because of traditional history they refuse to ever question or challenge.
    6.7bil people on Earth. If 45% of them already use opinion vs facts in their everyday lives that is a HUGE market to pander too. Whether its Rush Limbaugh, the Christian or Muslim Fundamentalists, Political Pundits, Brands, Media, etc If you refuse to believe that the Earth is 4.5bil years old (fact) why would they not accept the opinion of someone like Glen Beck. And the volume of opinion will match the size of the market competing for the $$.
    People have always written crazy whacky books that sell. So I think this has always been there just with new media and the internet its easier to share opinion and make money off it.

  21. The issue now becomes how these new media distribution channels build credibility directly with the audience. The challenge is that the traditional media will always put that work into question by leaving that germ in people’s mind – which can be a huge pollutant. Just look at the way they like to slightly discredit platforms like Huffington Post, Drudge Report, etc…
    And they like taking potshots at spaces like Craigslist and eBay too – you know the ones that threatens their revenue channels as well.

  22. And that is the fallback position from big, traditional, mass media: who do you turn to in a world where there is all of this opinion and lack of credibility everywhere you look?
    They use the platform to secure it. Interesting (and self-serving), no?

  23. It’s also not fair that because of traditional mass media’s reach that they prey on this. They take the few exceptions and turn them into a world of doom if consumers don’t have this clear/lucid voice that they can turn to.
    We know people are lazy. We’re not going to change that, but if we all accept that the truth comes in primary bulletpoints and that everything else is editorial and opinion, we may find ourselves in a more reasonable position.

  24. Mitch,
    So many sides to this post, is it about “Traditional Media” v “New Media” or is it about “Opinion v Fact” or is about “Profit”?
    Traditional v New is really about how it gets to you and that is already blurred as Traditional has moved into the New space via the web and mobile, all we hear when we design for Traditional Media now is that it needs to be for all 3 screens, Broadcast, Web and Mobile.
    Opinion v Fact is really about Trust, do you believe your source, do they show you what their Opinions are based on with real facts (facts don’t change) just the spin they are delivered with, or do you care, maybe they are saying what you already believe so you agree with them, even when they don’t have any facts to back up their Opinion. I do know that on the Local News level, checking the facts of stories is still important and that they lament the fact that they can be scooped by the New Media sources that don’t have to verify before they post.
    Profit is really about the relevancy of your story or the size of your audience, is what you provide unique enough and valuable enough for people to pay for it directly, or do you have a large enough audience that others will pay to sponsor your efforts?
    If what Howie says is true (did anyone check his stats?) then the majority believe what they are told and will follow someone that is like them regardless of the facts or lack thereof.
    What I hope is, that with the abundance of information now available through the web that more people will do their own research and verify what they hear from their chosen source on the important issues before they make a decision or spread the word.
    Is that too much to ask?

  25. It reminds me of The Matrix (doesn’t it?). Most people take the blue pill. This Blog post is for those who took the red pill. The majority of people seem to like living in the world of not having to know… it keeps us safe. It makes us think that things are predictable. People like that. I like that too… I just don’t think like that.

  26. The new media is definitely moving towards subjectivity rather than fact…which is fine in many cases but frustrating in others.
    The frustrating cases are when people who are not authorities act as if they ARE authorities without citing their research. Also, so many statistics are passed around without citations that bloggers are publishing incorrect stats that they overheard somewhere or another, then that blog is cited later on as the source even though it is unverified itself.
    There needs to be some sort of regulation in certain areas… however, it needs to be left alone in others as well. In many cases, blogging is just that – subjective discussions. As long as people aren’t portraying their material to be the end-all authority on the matter and 100% factual, it’s no problemo in my opinion.

  27. My favorite bit is when those stats are rectified or changed, you rarely (or never) see it updated on the Blogs, Twitter, etc… and because it proliferated for so long, we take the Google search engine result as fact. I’m guilt of this too… so imagine what the masses see?

  28. I wish you’d delved deeper into this topic. I was just forming, pardon the phrase, an opinion, on your article when it abruptly ended.
    On whether the new paradigm for news media is based on fact or opinion, I can speak for myself. When its important information such as health, science, politics, business I rely on the traditional media somewhat blindly as my initial source of information as they are expected to check their sources. When I look for further medical fact information I only trust Mayo Clinic or NIH. I’ll go to an organization such as the American Cancer Society if I want information on that particular topic.
    I’ll use the traditional media as my initial source of fact only because of the the laws that give the traditional media a special place with the public trust. Blogs, Review sites are opinion. I look at the material as that writer’s take on the matter , nothing edged in stone, nothing to rely on as fact.
    For me, Wikipedia is a starting point on trying to find out more about something. If its history, science or math based then its relatively accurate but, still just a starting point on the subject matter. All topics must be researched further and can not be considered absolute fact. There was a viral article on how a college professor thought his students were cheating off each other but, further research revealed that they all used Wikipedia as their source for fact.
    Basically I’ve learned while reading online when the topic is something important I’ll rely on traditional media sources for the best information on the topic only because of the assumption that research and the checking of sources was done. Everything else should fall under subjective material and therefore opinion. Everyone has one. I’ll read some to see if they are influential in forming my own.
    I do not stay absolutely true to this method. Just the other day I quoted Jon Steward as fact rather than opinion when debating the mosque issue and the source of the funding. I think it was Aug 23 when Steward pointed to News Corps’ 2nd largest investor as a major funder through the Kingdom Foundation. I went to the foundation’s site for information. That information was subjective but, you can quote them on it. I think all corporate sites are subjective, they are marketing oriented.
    There is room for both. One touted as fact and the other touted as opinion.

  29. Mitch,
    Based on the amount of Research done by some of the followers of your blog like Monique and Howie maybe you need to start a News Organization??

  30. You have set-up filters and understand the media landscape. You’re safe. The question that his more seasoned media professional wanted to better understand is: what about those who will not jump through those hoops. What about the individual who does take everything they read, see and hear as equal?
    These are the trends we’re now grappling through.

  31. We’ve been dealing with that since the first Cave Man exaggerated his kill on the Cave Wall.
    Trouble is with the New Media it travels farther and faster than ever before and since you don’t know the Cave Man sending it and that He always exaggerates then you are filterless, not sure what the fix is.
    Reminds me of the opening for David Baldacci’s book “The Whole Truth” in which Nicholas Creel, the head of the Ares Corporation, a huge defense contractor, hires a perception management firm to start a second cold war by planting fake news stories on the Internet about Russian atrocities. The propaganda campaign soon turns violent with the massacre of the members of a London think tank, the Phoenix Group, apparently by a Russian hit team. (I guess they didn’t check their facts before sending the hit team out)
    Also brings into play the (fact??) that education is declining at least in the US and will people do their Homework, can you say Idiocracy??
    I guess I read too much and watch too many movies??

  32. Would the issue of fact versus opinion matter if we had an educational system that focused on critical thinking? Institutional education rewards kids for not questioning what they are learning or hearing. In fact they often get in trouble for having their own opinions. (A generalization, yes, but one I’ve experienced with three kids who’ve gone through public schools.) This system just reinforces the Sensate Judgers’ propensity to believe what they hear.
    I don’t think people are too stupid or lazy to figure out the difference between fact and opinion; too many just haven’t been taught how to do it. And because of that we need those media outlets that attempt to hold themselves to high standards of research and fact checking. I personally love opinions because they give me something to think about and debate. But like everyone else who reads this blog, I don’t think I’m in the norm.

  33. Mitch,
    This just in!
    Glenn Beck launches conservative news site The Blaze
    By Matt DeLong Washington Post
    Conservative Fox News host Glenn Beck, a frequent critic of the mainstream news media, has launched his own news site, The Blaze. The site appears to be modeled after The Huffington Post and not surprisingly, features stories with a conservative bent about some of Beck’s favorite issues, such as faith, terrorism, the imam behind the planned Islamic community center in New York City and Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally at the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday.
    He is Traditional Media with an audience moving to the New Media platform, who will check the facts?
    Kinda brings this blog thread home, doesn’t it.

  34. For more on that, you should check out my weekly link exchange (on Saturdays) with Alistair Croll and Hugh McGuire. Just this past week, Alistair recommended this for Hugh:
    A Textbook Example of What’s Wrong with Education – Edutopia.
    Alistair says: “This piece looks at how school textbooks are purchased in the US, and how a strange combination of Gerrymandering, industry consolidation, and book budgets are letting fringe special interest groups redact American history. I came across it in my research into the coming collision of tablet computing, education, and teachers’ unions.”

  35. The conceit that traditional media checks its sources just doesn’t stack up. Investigative journalism by a minority of publications aside, a lot of the mainstream news that most people consume on a day to day basis is little more than regurgitated press releases. It is actually in new media that some of this is challenged. The corrections never make it through to traditional media, who are busy feeding more press releases in the other end.
    Just my opinion of course.

  36. Is it that Obvious?
    Actually spend a lot of time in Local News Stations and they really do spend quite a bit of time checking sources and facts, most of them no longer do Opinion or Editorial pieces.

  37. I actually saw your link and read the article yesterday. I’ve been involved in education (writing about it, serving as a PTA president, volunteering in the classroom) since college, when I decided not to go into teaching after volunteering in classrooms for a few years. I kept being told “we don’t do things that way here” and saw too little opportunity for creativity without having to fight every day with the administration. I wasn’t surprised that textbooks today are produced and not authored. Still, it was depressing to read the article, especially as there is little hope that things will change. Online education may actually provide an answer for parents who don’t want to teach their own children but do want to design more creative learning programs for them.

  38. But who says his followers are interested in facts? I don’t think their motivation for listening to him is based on wanting to stay abreast of what is going on in the world.

  39. This is really, really interesting when you consider that publishing portals like Gawker and AOL have hired dozens of “journalists” to bring subject expertise to their editorial curation. Of the sites you mention in this post – namely, The New York Times – there is an interesting dichotomy, which is that sourcing material is still relatively undemocratic. I think this is precisely where the notion of “mass” can change within the context of media, which is to say that we need both consensus and context to validate and curate stories – opinions, filtered or not, do in fact shape the storytelling process. Excellent post, as always…

  40. It’s a fair opinion, but it’s also one that traditional media will challenge. It’s – as usual – not a clear cut and dry situation. Some Blogs get it right. Some newspapers get it right. Some newspapers get it wrong. Some Blogs get it wrong. It’s not the media… it’s the integrity of the content creators.

  41. Gotta Love freedom of speech and expression of opinion but damn–it’s becoming increasingly difficult to separate fact from speculative hearsay and opinion no matter who’s news you’re reading/watching.
    Traditional media is held accountable to correct misinformation MOST of the time, but FOX News doesn’t necessarily uphold that standard (does anyone anymore?) so where does that leave us? Does anyone take the time or even care to fact-check someone they choose to receive their news from? There’s a a trust factor built into the likeability of the source–and nowadays the sociopolitical slant your source leans toward makes its audience WANT TO BELIEVE everything they hear(say).

  42. This post is so relevant on the online realm, the idea reaches the human side.
    Winners write the truths, Losers are considered liars, even in history.
    So everybody play to win, if they are not winning, they probably don’t engage in playing.
    Winner-take-all world.

  43. In recent times, I hardly think traditional media is “balanced”. When you have the likes of Murdoch owning and dictating what we read, see and hear, it’s a sad state of affairs. I say bring on the opinions, it makes for healthy discussion and truly delivers a balance in the mass.

  44. My two cents (apologies if I’m repeating stuff):
    It’s all about credibility. The traditional media have happily been chipping away at their own cred with opinion pieces, hidden agendas, corrupt journos and an astonishing readiness to repeat what the powers-that-be/owners/lobbyists-with-information want them to publish. OTOH, a blogger’s or Tweeter’s cred is built slowly and can be trashed in a day. Still, those that stay “true” to their cause and continue to offer insightsful analysis, opinions etc, will always prosper. One added benefit of new media is the given nature of two-way communication, which means a possibility to on a fairly even footing discuss, clarify, opinionate etc, that just is not there in traditional media. The cred of a blogging “new media” Mish Shedlock is, when it comes to matters economic, a lot higher than that of the WSJ, for instance.

  45. Personally, Mitch, I believe that if newspapers were never invented, they would be now. Think about it. We have never needed a newspaper’s core function – editing – more than we do now. What with all the “lunatics” out there spewing whatever nonsense or genius they wish to spew, someone needs to help us wade through that mess and make sense of it all while we work in the real world doing what we do. It’s impossible to wade through it alone. I personally depend newspapers to help me understand what’s important. Because newspapers are experts at saying “no” to certain stories. The web, given its hyper-democratic openness, never says no. We need more no.

  46. I think this is a key statement: ”We are moving from a world of fact to a world of opinion.”
    It’s funny how I remember my dad telling me (way before the advent of social media) that you can’t believe everything you read in the news. They are there mostly to garner ratings and live for shock value.
    Ironic isn’t it?

  47. Why can’t your social circle provide that for you? Don’t you find great/curated content in places like Twitter or Facebook? (I do).
    That being said, it’s a fascinating thought: can someone wade through everything and truly come up with the right level of filter?

  48. We knew it was coming but Social Media and instant publishing really pushed that type of content through, and it’s even becoming the norm in what we consider to be our “news” channels and programming.

  49. truth is not equal to equal time – equal time is the type of journalism we are getting into. No, truth is uncovering the agendas of the powers that be, making the complex understandable, and presenting the world in context. I use context not balance. Reason. Context means the discussion of corporate profits is not corporations make lots of money so average folks don’t. Context is Big Company A has made significant profits and employs 50,000 people with another 50 million shareholders getting .50/share dividends.
    No we just here, CEO get $10 million bonus. Because it’s easy to take sides and gin up emotions.
    Take the issue of job loses, it’s too easy to say a job went overseas instead of saying, we Americans don’t like to pay a few dollars more for lawn chairs or jeans so the guy down the block can have a job.
    See we get lazy citizens, lazy journalism, and are creating a segregated society right before our eyes. We better wake up.

  50. and wait can’t let you get off that easy. We are not in a world of opinions instead of facts. There are facts and it’s a journalists job to get them for the public. It’s a lawyer’s job to get them for their clients. So there are facts, surely the judges interpretation of the facts is an opinion (you might say and think you have me check mated : ) ) but we can not let the world of opinion stand as fact.
    Whether life begins at conception is opinion, the end result of that action producing a human being is fact.
    WMD’s being in Iraq was accepted as fact but in the end was witnessed that it was Bull, er opinion.

  51. Will this save traditional media? Here’s a piece from my Twitter Feed.
    Next big thing? TV-newspaper staff mergers from Alan Mutter’s blog “Reflections of a Newsosaur”
    Although the Newspaper and the TV station he mentions in Tampa were on the same campus they were in 2 separate buildings it seems they weren’t as committed to the marriage as they should have been.
    When we did this project it was touted everywhere as the wave of the future of Media, it didn’t materialize, fast forward to 2009 and the new economy is forcing this on them, we have designed and built a few of these mergers with more on the way and it seems that when they are all in the same room it may just work if Old Traditional (Newspapers) and Mid Traditional (Radio) and New Traditional (Broadcast) work together to create their own Brand of New Media (Web and Mobile).
    It kind of goes along with what Will stated above about needing Newspaper’s filter, it’s really the number of bodies it takes to verify, edit and choose and that was the beauty of the old Newsrooms.
    So either you have to spend the time to research the web to find and evaluate New Media Sources or you can rely on Traditional Media to do it for you I think both will continue and many lines will blur.
    If you think about it each new media was thought to kill the one before it but they all still exist and if they learn and grow they may even thrive, it’s up to them to remain relevant.

  52. I often wondered why more media organization don’t pull everyone into a room and have a candid discussion about what is news? What is opinions? What do our readers want? How do they want it? How can we give this to them? How can we make on this?
    I’m sure they have these meetings. I’m sure they simply fall back on what they know.

  53. I’m not sure that traditional media has always told the truth. There’s politics in media, and journalism like any form of story telling lacks objectivity. We can both look at the same sunset and see something different, and we’ll tell the story differently as well. If it’s in the news, is it really true? I don’t think so. I think social media has enabled everyone to have a platform. They guy that was ignored for talking bullshit has found an audience. It doesn’t mean the audience belives the bullshit, but over time everything influences consciousnes and ultimately social beliefs. Tell the same story often enough it won’t be long before someone believes it to be true.

  54. Very true Simon. There are also other not-so-hidden agendas that simply leave out some of the important news out. For example, we hear about Iraq all the time but what about Darfur and other countries going through difficult times?

  55. We often talk about “filter failure” as well because there is so much content being published and produced. We’re not going to solve this issue here/now, but even having these open conversations is a huge/important first step as we grapple through the complexities of the mass media.

  56. Interesting update…
    Today in The New York Times, Arthur S. Brisbane (the Times’ Public Editor) has a piece titled, In an Age of Voices, Moving Beyond the Facts, that starts:
    “What some call opinion, others call interpretive journalism — a label as opaque as the practice. Call it what you will, nothing has generated more reader indignation in the past few weeks than when it has appeared on a news page.
    The morphing of news has stuck in some readers’ craw for a long time, and all three of The Times’s previous public editors dealt with the issue. But I believe the phenomenon is accelerating and has the potential to redefine the newspaper.
    It’s not that editors have decided to abandon the traditional virtues of objective journalism. But the Times news pages increasingly are home to “voices,” not merely reportage, as editors commission work bearing the author’s distinctive point of view. And it is happening during the clamor of the Internet age, when such voices are the only ones that seem to rise above the din.”
    You can read the rest here:
    Proof positive that the shift from facts to opinions is well underway.

  57. Mitch,
    Story in today’s Washington Post, by Howard Kurtz, based on info from a recent Pew Research Center Study.
    Multitasking through the news
    “With news and gossip leaping off every laptop screen, smartphone and Facebook page, the common wisdom these days is that traditional news outlets are doomed.
    But a funny thing happened on the way to the funeral: People are spending more time following the news, rather than giving in to other distractions.
    Traditional media are holding onto mindshare: A new Pew Research Center study says that on a given day, Americans spend 57 minutes a day getting the news from television, newspapers or radio, just as they did in 2000. But they spend an additional 13 minutes each day consuming news on the Web–a figure that doesn’t even include stories viewed on cell phones. Highly educated folks, not surprisingly, are driving the increase.
    Not everyone is an addict; 17 percent of those surveyed said they got no news of any kind the previous day. But the 83 percent who did are drawing their information from a wider variety of sources.
    Digital news is not “crowding out” the old media and may even be “reinvigorating them,” says Andrew Kohut, the center’s president.”
    “The Pew report confirms a strikingly partisan shift among cable news viewers. Four in 10 Republicans now say they regularly watch Fox News, home to the likes of Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity. Just 12 percent of Republicans describe themselves as regular CNN viewers, and for MSNBC, with its lineup of liberal hosts, the figure is 6 percent. Back in 2002, the study says, Republicans were as likely to watch CNN (28 percent) as Fox News (25 percent). On the flip side, Democrats make up 21 percent of the Fox audience, 47 percent of CNN’s and 53 percent of MSNBC’s.”
    Seems that people are digesting more News than before but may be picking their News along party lines though. Is this their chosen Truth? Are they using New Media to check on Traditional Media or vice-versa?
    For the full story here’s a link.

  58. Here’s another take on this topic from Alan Mutter concerning pay walls for Newspapers and other Print Media.
    “Combine consistently demonstrated consumer resistance to pay with a plethora of plausible free alternatives and there can be little doubt that charging for day-to-day news coverage – even sparkling local coverage – is not likely to be a fruitful path for most general-interest newspapers.
    Instead of putting cycles into exercises like charging for access to obituaries, publishers need to focus their marketing power, content-creating resources and ad-selling capabilities on developing unique print, web and mobile products that will be valued by consumers and advertisers alike.
    For anyone other than publishers of mission-critical business or government news like the Wall Street Journal and possibly the New York Times, pay walls will not fly. It is time for everyone else to move on to more productive pursuits.”
    To speak to your headline “The Truth, The Whole Truth And Nothing But The Truth” since many New Media agencies cite Old Media as their source the “keeping of the Truth” falls back on them anyway, the only difference is they pay to find and write the story but lose the revenue to the upstarts.
    Here’s a link to the complete post
    I think he hits it on the head when he states “publishers need to focus their marketing power, content-creating resources and ad-selling capabilities on developing unique print, web and mobile products that will be valued by consumers and advertisers alike.”
    In the end it may be too late for most Newspapers, if they cut staff to compete on price then they will lose their true advantage their only hope is to follow Seth Godin’s advice from yesterday “Go through all the ways you serve your customers and make them more expensive to execute, not less. Your loyalty and your market share will both grow. People who can afford to pay for service often choose to pay for service.”
    Will it work, we’ll see??

  59. I’ve Blogged (on countless occasions) on how these publishers must figure out what online publishing means and do more than simply copy and paste their content and expect the same financial outcome. Innovation is long, hard and imperfect… not something a heavily leveraged public company likes to hear. We shall see…

  60. In case you missed this story and I am sure there are many others, here is a link to a story about a story that went viral but was incorrect and the difficulty in trying to clean up the mess.
    Good news it was a story about Cows and Bears and no one was injured what about when the story about a person is misrepresented or just misreported and then spread virally?
    How do you ever repair that damage?

  61. If traditional media is threatened by the new wave, it’s due to a number of factors:
    1) There’s no money in electronic print – or at least, less than there is in the paper business. The money generated by online ad revenue cannot subsidize the unionized pay-rolls of print-edition executives and journalists. It’s a nice ancillary market but likely won’t ever pay the real bills!
    2) Traditional media has long made a habit of lumping us into easy-to-understand categories: right, left, subculture and undecided. With the homogenization of the printed word thanks to electronica, traditional media loses its precious monopoly on streotype. Suddenly, it’s a world of diverse, idiosyncratic voices. It’s tough to lump us all together, making it difficult to perpetuate such traditional media conventions as polityical polls and advertising rate cards.
    3) They try to keep their information foothold by painting online pundits and bloggers as perpetuaters of opinion, not fact – when, in fact, the true difference between the old world and the new is that traditional media has always disguised it’s opinions as fact. Name a non-partisan newspaper? Every time there’s a federal election, you know exactly which papers are going to endoese which candidates. It’s the lack of tact, then, that they object to; not the opinions themselves.
    As for the larger question, i.e. which way we’re best being informationally taken care of, we’re all at the mercy of our own discretion and intelligences – and twas ever thus! We’ll each pick the writers we respect, the writers we don’t; the sources we trust, the ones we don’t – same as before!

  62. The ones who are publishing and making lots of money online (Huffington Post, TechCrunch, TMZ, Gizmodo, etc…) also look nothing like traditional publishers, so it’s not like they can just tweak their business, they have to re-invent it… which is never easy.

  63. The history of mankind entails both a conniving and supremacy thriving race that will go to any means possible to conceal the truth. Traditional media is by far the most effective way to control what “truth†is exploited and what truth is concealed.
    Of course new media allows for stupid and lazy individuals to connect with each other and collectively agree on some sort of intriguing opinion as Mitch Joel kindly puts it. The truth of the matter is that new media will ultimately exploit the real truth and all that it endeavors.
    In my opinion we never were in a world of fact, but rather a controlled atmosphere were only people with power and money had influence on newsworthy material. Sure there’s going to be some weirdo’s online that want to include their two cents whenever they can, but I’m sure the most impressive news will come from individuals who portray their “opinion†with some hefty research to back it up. If not, their negligence will surely be brought to light by the many online professionals searching to discredit unprofessional attempts.
    For the first time in human history, everyone will have the opportunity to speak the truth. People will be able to decide for themselves what they believe is fact and opinion. They won’t have the influence of politicians or power hungry corporations breathing down their backs dictating fact material from the fiction.
    So now we’re asked what is good for us? Is it the truth through mass media or is it the masses of “opinions†from all over the place? Like Mitch Joel said, maybe opinion is the new truth and the definition of the words “mediaâ€, “journalismâ€, “credible source†and more do need to be changed.
    As far as I’m concerned, the paradigm shift was well overdue and finally the world will be informed with real facts for the very first time.

  64. I think the power of social media over a lazy world is a scary thing. As mentioned by some others, we cannot expect the (perhaps) average person to seek out all the information needed to be informed. And regardless of what level of information some have, they still come out with very –possibly unfounded — strong opinions.
    From what I understand, one of the challenges today with climate change is that a biased message was shared in the early days; an idea that still stands in some peoples’ minds: climate change is not a concern. Whether this incorrect idea was enabled by social media, or whether it came from mass media with some pressure from the ‘high-ups’, I don’t know. But knowing the power behind strong organizations, I cringe to think of how social media can be used to forward their positions on contraversial issues that impact their bottom lines, like climate change and environment.

  65. The question itself can be interpreted very differently depending on one’s point of view. I generally think the mass media is responsible for reporting the truth though there are opinions expressed within the mass media (or political leanings). I think if we rely on the masses of opinions we miss the most important aspect which is truth first. I believe once people have the facts then they will naturally go to those media outlets whom they feel reflect their political leanings on various topics.

Comments are closed.