Monday, April 18, 2016

Journalism Dying

4/18/16 Associated Press has one of those astonishing stories that shows a serious lack of insight.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Trust in the news media is being eroded by perceptions of inaccuracy and bias, fueled in part by Americans' skepticism about what they read on social media.

Just 6 percent of people say they have a lot of confidence in the media, putting the news industry about equal to Congress and well below the public's view of other institutions. In this presidential campaign year, Democrats were more likely to trust the news media than Republicans or independents.
Perhaps because journalists have become Democratic Party activists with bylines?
Faced with ever-increasing sources of information, Americans also are more likely to rely on news that is up-to-date, concise and cites expert sources or documents, according to a study by the Media Insight Project, a partnership of The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the American Press Institute.

They want to be able to navigate the news app or website easily and quickly, without having to wade through intrusive or annoying ads.

"The skill set that journalists have to master is bigger," said Tom Rosenstiel, executive director of the American Press Institute. That's because the expectations of news consumers have increased.
The poll shows that accuracy clearly is the most important component of trust.

Nearly 90 percent of Americans say it's extremely or very important that the media get their facts correct, according to the study. About 4 in 10 say they can remember a specific incident that eroded their confidence in the media, most often one that dealt with accuracy or a perception that it was one-sided.
 I remember many years ago, a not very ideological friend made the observation that every news story for which he had either expert knowledge or had been present at the event was either false, or so shallow as to be meaningless.  That's been my experience as well.  As much contempt as I have for social media, it is playing a role in destroying trust:

A majority of people get news from social media, most frequently by far from Facebook. "Facebook is the place where everyone is, and so you're not necessarily looking for news, but you're getting it," Rosenstiel[said sic].

Yet only 12 percent of those who use Facebook say they have a lot of trust in the news and information they see on the site.

Twitter attracts smaller numbers for news than Facebook, and about 18 percent have a good deal of trust in what they read there. There was also viewer skepticism of other social media sites.
That social media users have higher trust in the media tells me a lot about their gullibility.

A reader reminded me that Michael Crichton coined a term for this: the Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect.


  1. "I remember many years ago, a not very ideological friend made the observation that every news story for which he had either expert knowledge or had been present at the event was either false, or so shallow as to be meaningless. That's been my experience as well."

    Michael Crichton termed this the Gell-Mann effect (after Murray Gell-Mann).

  2. The sad thing is it takes only a few minutes to get key facts via the internet. Stuff that took a newspaper researcher or cub reporter hours to get. There was a local story (Connecticut) about how a town on the coast was having a meeting to plan for sea level rise. The reporter provided no context at all. It took me 10 minutes to find the NOAA sea level site and come up with a chart of historical sea level trends. Yep a rise of perhaps an inch or two in the next 20 years would reassure homeowners but not fit the required narratives.

  3. I feel compelled to add that Michael Crichton, a very sharp fellow and a good writer, though no actual genius, was sharp enough to know baloney whenever he saw it. His book State of Fear" was certainly not his best novel, but it made thoroughly clear the idiocy of the Global Warming nutters and other eco-wackos.

    The collapse of the education system in the U.S., along with the concomitant rise of communists/socialists who infect the schools and universities, permits this to occur. It's simply far easier to lead ignorant people than informed people.