scritic + objectivity   184

Trump’s Coronavirus Press Event Was Even Worse Than It Looked | WIRED
As a reporter, in general I’m not supposed to say something like this, but: The president’s statements to the press were terrifying. That press availability was a repudiation of good science and good crisis management from inside one of the world’s most respected scientific institutions. It was full of Dear Leader-ish compliments, non-sequitorial defenses of unrelated matters, attacks on an American governor, and—most importantly—misinformation about the virus and the US response. That’s particularly painful coming from inside the CDC, a longtime powerhouse in global public health now reduced to being a backdrop for grubby politics. During a public health crisis, clear and true information from leaders is the only way to avoid dangerous panic. Yet here we are.
polarization  journalism  objectivity 
29 days ago by scritic
The Prodigal Techbro | The Conversationalist
Prodigal tech bro stories skip straight from the past, when they were part of something that—surprise!—turned out to be bad, to the present, where they are now a moral authority on how to do good, but without the transitional moments of revelation and remorse.  But the bit where you say you got things wrong and people were hurt? That’s the most important part. It’s why these corporatized reinventions feel so slick and tinny, and why so many of the comments on Lajeunesse’s train wreck post on Medium were critical. The journey feels fake. These ‘I was lost but now I’m found, please come to my TED talk’ accounts typically miss most of the actual journey, yet claim the moral authority of one who’s ‘been there’ but came back. It’s a teleportation machine, but for ethics.
objectivity  expertise 
4 weeks ago by scritic
The 2016 Emails Nightmare Is About to Repeat Itself | Crooked Media
To allow moral and ethical distinctions between partisan agendas and tactics to seep into reporting would be extremely disruptive. One party’s conduct might be consistently less ethical and principled than the other’s, but acknowledging as much, and allowing it to shape coverage, would alienate sources in that party, and drive its followers to outlets willing to sanitize the truth. But if the background assumption of most news producers is that both parties engage in dirty tricks, politicians of all stripes lie, and the nature of empirical fact itself is contestable, it creates a huge loophole that allows unscrupulous, dishonest actors to game news coverage itself, until it no longer conveys reality. 
polarization  journalism  objectivity 
5 weeks ago by scritic
Big Tech has regrouped for 2020
Organic speech is much more challenging to combat, Kreiss said, because it's hard to differentiate between users posting false content because they are trying to manipulate or misinform others on the platform intentionally and users posting because they've been convinced to believe the false information themselves.
journalism  objectivity 
6 weeks ago by scritic
Media Is Broken | by Nicholas Lemann| The New York Review of Books
What nobody imagined was that a really good search engine could attract an audience many orders of magnitude larger than any news site, without producing any original material at all—or that, a few years later, a social network whose content was mainly produced by its own users could replicate the same feat. Alan Rusbridger’s memoir of his editorship of The Guardian is like a museum of the newspaper business’s evolving theories of its future during this period. The traditional newspaper, delivered as a website, would be the model. No, the Internet was a democratic and informal medium, so there would have to be bloggers in addition to conventional reporters. No, that wasn’t enough, there also had to be enormous quantities of new material delivered constantly by armies of unpaid contributors. No, newspapers had to deemphasize their own sites and send each story out into cyberspace to find a life on its own on social networks.
journalism  objectivity 
8 weeks ago by scritic
Julia Azari on Twitter: "canvassing or among people who already know each other, in which tone and language might allow for minds to be changed - and dealing with a power imbalance such as between a citizen and a high-ranking official. It's not impossible
Great thread on the limits of social psychology studies of message reception

Azari says canvassing might work on those of same power level but politicians are more likely to change their minds if they see negative consequences of their constituents being unhappy with them
journalism  objectivity  polarization 
9 weeks ago by scritic
In a polarized world, YouTube can not remain neutral
So it is with the academy, politics, K-12 education, and all our other public institutions. Their role is collective self-regulation, some imposition of S2 thinking on groups naturally inclined toward a variety of S1 -isms. And as flawed as they are, as often as they fail, as badly as they are often bent to the service of culturally dominant groups, humans haven’t found any social S2 mechanism that work better. Only better institutions.
objectivity  journalism 
9 weeks ago by scritic
Why the media is so polarized — and how it polarizes us
But among those with cable and internet access, the difference in political knowledge between those with the highest and lowest interest in cable news was 27 percent. That dwarfed the difference in political knowledge between people with the highest and lowest levels of schooling. “In a high-choice environment, people’s content preferences become better predictors of political learning than even their level of education,” Prior wrote.

But rather than argue over who’s right, I want to step back and look at how a political media system increasingly organized around that axis deepens political identity, hardens polarization, and raises the political stakes.
polarization  journalism  objectivity 
9 weeks ago by scritic
I Tried to Live Like Joe Rogan - The Atlantic
ut that’s not why people are obsessed with him. In reality, it’s because Joe Rogan is a tireless optimist, a grab-life-by-the-throat-and-bite-out-its-esophagus kind of guy, and many, many men respond to that. I respond to that. The competitive energy, the drive to succeed, the search for purpose, for self-respect. Get better every day. Master your domain. Total human optimization. A goal so hazy and unreachable that you never stop trying, until you realize with a kind of enviable Zen clarity that the trying is the whole point. If the world isn’t giving you much in the way of positive feedback, create your own. It’s a tough message for a very rich guy like Joe Rogan to sell, but he pulls it off because he has never stopped coming across as stubbornly normal. He’s from a middle-class Boston suburb, he’s bald, and for God’s sake, his name is Joe.
journalism  objectivity 
9 weeks ago by scritic
Political scientist Francis Fukuyama reviews Ezra’s Klein’s new book about the roots of political polarization. - The Washington Post
This part of the story has been well understood for many years; what has puzzled observers is why polarization has more recently intensified into what political scientists label “affective polarization,” a highly emotional attachment to one’s side that defies considerations of rational self-interest. Here Klein, like many others, reaches into the realm of social psychology and notes a basic human propensity to form powerful group attachments: Being red or blue has come to constitute an identity rather than an ideology. He cites a large literature suggesting that human cognition does not begin with facts and work its way to interpretations; rather, humans start with preexisting identities and use their considerable cognitive skills to justify positions they somehow know in advance to be right. Under these conditions, having more facts and information does not necessarily lead to better decisions. Klein cites one rather depressing study in which better-informed partisans were more attached to their incorrect opinions than people who were more ignorant.
polarization  toblog  objectivity 
10 weeks ago by scritic
How misinformation overwhelmed our democracy - Vox
We probably need a paradigm shift in how the press covers politics. Nearly all of the incentives driving media militate against this kind of rethinking, however. And so we’re likely stuck with this problem for a very long time.
journalism  objectivity 
11 weeks ago by scritic
Policy Feedback in an Age of Polarization - Jacob S. Hacker, Paul Pierson, 2019
A large body of research has explored how policies, once enacted, reshape public opinion, governing institutions, and political organizations—a process known as “policy feedback.” Yet this productive research agenda has yet to be translated into practical recommendations of the sort regularly provided by other social science research. This volume of The ANNALS presents the findings of a major collective effort to do just this. The Policy Feedback Project (PFP) is an effort to develop research-backed arguments about how policy feedback might be harnessed to address collective problems in today’s age of partisan polarization and economic inequality. This article orients readers to our collective approach and summarizes some of the contributing authors’ findings. In particular, we show how the feedback effects of policies could be used to (1) tackle long-standing public problems that have resisted effective responses, (2) increase the long-term durability of policy initiatives designed to address these problems, and (3) build political momentum and power to facilitate the adaptation and expansion of these initiatives over time.
polarization  objectivity 
12 weeks ago by scritic
Right-Wing Views for Generation Z, Five Minutes at a Time - The New York Times
The way PragerU presents that “alternative voice” is in the measured tone of an online university, carefully avoiding the news cycle and President Trump. That is part of its power.
polarization  journalism  objectivity 
january 2020 by scritic
‘Think of Him as The President’: Tabloid Trump and the Political Imaginary, 1980–1999 | Journal of Communication | Oxford Academic
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‘Think of Him as The President’: Tabloid Trump and the Political Imaginary, 1980–1999

Geoffrey Baym

Journal of Communication, Volume 69, Issue 4, August 2019, Pages 396–417,



04 July 2019

 Article history






Years before Twitter, Fox News, or reality TV, Donald Trump became a public figure through his presence in tabloid media. Much of that focused on sex and spectacle, but early tabloid coverage of Trump was also surprisingly political, with speculation about a possible presidential campaign beginning as early as 1987. Although that coverage has been largely overlooked, this study reveals that tabloid media played a central role in building the foundations of Trump’s political identity. It tracks the early articulation of the Trump character and its simultaneous politicization within a media space outside the ostensibly legitimate arena of institutional public-affairs journalism. In so doing, it reveals the deeper contours of an imagined political world in which a Trump presidency could be conceivable in the first instance—a political imaginary adjacent to the deep assumptions of liberal Democracy, and therefore long invisible to most serious observers of presidential politics.
polarization  objectivity  journalism 
january 2020 by scritic
The Christmas Eve Confessions of Chuck Todd - PressThink
He’s not naive. He’s an insider who thought his read was better. You can smell on his Christmas eve confessions the regrets of the insider who thought he knew these people well because he broke bread with them, rang them up for off-the-record conversations, and enjoyed the kind of green room bonhomie that says, “sure, we have different roles, but we’re all part of the same industry called Washington.” He thought he could predict what a Ted Cruz would do because he has behind-the-scenes knowledge. Naiveté is not a good word for that. He thought himself savvier than the rest of us. I was not at all shocked that Senator Cruz took the party line on Ukraine interfering in 2016. Were you? Todd was because he had miseducated himself. 
journalism  objectivity 
december 2019 by scritic
Is There a Crisis of Truth? - Los Angeles Review of Books
Perhaps it can now be seen just how difficult it is for the laity to know Truth when it’s right in front of them. And why exposing the public to more science isn’t likely to cure the Crisis. In order to know the Truth, in order to have right belief, people must, essentially, be very much like us — not to know facts and theories as their personal possession (since most of us don’t either) but to trust the people and institutions that we trust. The Crisis of Truth is better described as a Crisis of Social Knowledge and, specifically, as a Crisis of Institutions — of institutional authority and legitimacy.

When science becomes so extensively bonded with power and profit, its conditions of credibility look more and more like those of the institutions in which it has been enfolded. Its problems are their problems. Business is not in the business of Truth; it is in the business of business. So why should we expect the science embedded within business to have a straightforward entitlement to the notion of Truth? [17] The same question applies to the science embedded in the State’s exercise of power. Knowledge speaks through institutions; it is embedded in the everyday practices of social life; and if the institutions and the everyday practices are in trouble, so too is their knowledge
journalism  objectivity 
december 2019 by scritic
Professionalizing contingency: How journalism schools adapt to deprofessionalization
We found that, unable to shield students from a precarious labor market, many journalism programs are instead molding their educational mission—and, more significantly, the profession’s fundamental norms and values—around it.

We call this professionalizing contingency.

Journalism school professors and administrators professionalized contingency in three ways. First, they dismantled boundaries between journalism and other occupations like public relations. Second, they romanticized precarious work and tried to make students “entrepreneurial” in order to cope with precarity. Third, they sought to alter curricula to emphasize technological skills.
journalism  objectivity 
december 2019 by scritic
How Trump’s war on science is borrowing from the tobacco industry playbook - The Washington Post
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Made by History


How Trump’s war on science is borrowing from the tobacco industry playbook

Calls for transparency at the EPA are a smokescreen

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler speaks alongside President Trump in the East Room of the White House on July 8. (Alex Brandon/AP)

By David Merritt Johns and Karen Levy 

It was a disaster for the tobacco industry, which responded with two strategies. First, the cigarette companies searched for allies. “The credibility of EPA is defeatable, but not on the basis of ETS alone. It must be part of a larger mosaic that concentrates all of the EPA’s enemies against it at one time,” observed a 1993 industry memo. The second strategy involved gaining access to the raw data behind key studies. Tobacco firms knew from experience in lawsuits that they could hire statistical experts to reanalyze the data behind epidemiological findings so that they coughed up more industry-friendly conclusions.

The result of these strategies: an initiative called the Advancement of Sound Science Coalition, an organization dedicated to educating the public about the perils of “junk science.” Outwardly, the industry-backed coalition portrayed itself as a “grassroots-based, not-for-profit watchdog group” aimed at elevating the standards of science-based policy. Internally, however, tobacco strategists noted their hope that the campaign would link warnings about secondhand smoke “to junk science in [the] public’s mind” so that being around cigarettes was no longer “seen as a significant health risk.”

objectivity  Teaching  polarization 
december 2019 by scritic
Cautionary Notes on Disinformation and the Origins of Distrust – MediaWell
To what extent can we claim that disinformation and propaganda are a core cause of the crisis of democratic society? I suggest that we may need to understand the political confusion less as a function of intentional, discrete propagandist interventions (though it is those too), and more as one facet of the more basic dynamic of the past decade: the collapse of neoliberalism in the Great Recession and the struggle to define what the new settlement that replaces it must become. I suggest that while individual entrepreneurs took advantage of the dislocation and anxiety caused by these conditions—be they media personalities like Rush Limbaugh and or Rupert Murdoch or political opportunists like Donald Trump—the driving force of the epistemic crisis is that elite institutions, including mainstream media, in fact failed the majority of the people. Throughout the neoliberal period, elite consensus implemented policies and propagated narratives that underwrote and legitimated the rise of a small oligarchic elite at the expense of delivering economic insecurity to the many. These material drivers of justified distrust were compounded by profound changes in political culture that drove movements, on both the right and the left, to reject the authority structures of mid-twentieth-century high modernism.
neoliberalism  journalism  objectivity 
december 2019 by scritic
On Digital Disinformation and Democratic Myths – MediaWell
I have seen over the past few years a chilly divide forming within the research community. On one side are the digital media researchers who see genuine cause for alarm in the rise of digital disinformation and propaganda. They argue that digital media presents new propaganda and disinformation threats. They hold up Cambridge Analytica as proof of how quickly the landscape is changing. They warn that mainstream political scientists have their collective heads in the sand. On the other side are the political science researchers who see a hype bubble forming and want no part of it. They point to a literature on campaign persuasion and mobilization that shows tiny-to-null effects across the board. They argue that Cambridge Analytica’s marketing collateral should not be accepted at face value. They warn that this new group of researchers lack clear counterfactuals and appear to be chasing the latest headlines. It is a divide that could fundamentally undermine this emerging field of research.

And it is a divide that we can bypass if we set aside the narrow focus on direct impacts of disinformation and propaganda in elections. Disinformation and propaganda are not dangerous because they effectively trick or misinform otherwise-attentive voters; they are dangerous because they disabuse political elites of some crucial assumptions about the consequences of violating the public trust.
journalism  objectivity 
december 2019 by scritic
Facebook’s ad tools subsidize partisanship, research shows. And campaigns may not even know it.
Honestly, I can't tell what's interesting here save for the fact that the authors have now documented through a study what political strategists have known all along: FB ads are good for recruiting believers into the campaign.

And here we go again about filter bubbles; was it really true that before social media campaigns tried to appeal to everyone individually?
objectivity  journalism  teaching 
december 2019 by scritic
Fake News Nation: The Long History of Lies and Misinterpretations in America: James W. Cortada, William Aspray: 9781538131107: Books
After the election of Donald Trump as president, people in the United States and across large swaths of Europe, Latin America, and Asia engaged in the most intensive discussion in modern times about falsehoods pronounced by public officials. Fake facts in their various forms have long been present in American life, particularly in its politics, public discourse, and business activities – going back to the time when the country was formed. This book explores the long tradition of fake facts, in their various guises, in American history. It is one of the first historical studies to place the long history of lies and misrepresentation squarely in the middle of American political, business, and science policy rhetoric.

In Fake News Nation, James Cortada and William Aspray present a series of case studies that describe how lies and fake facts were used over the past two centuries in important instances in American history. Cortada and Aspray give readers a perspective on fake facts as they appear today and as they are likely to appear in the future.
journalism  objectivity 
december 2019 by scritic
The Right Decision is to Move Ahead Now | Talking Points Memo
Late last month I said I had grave misgivings about ending the Impeachment inquiry, as the House appears intent on doing, without having deposed any of the key players in the scandal. The list is long: Rudy Giuliani, Mick Mulvaney, Mike Pompeo, John Bolton in addition to as many as a dozen others. Stopping here seems crazy on several fronts: There are numerous key questions that remain unanswered. There are dimensions of wrongdoing that remain all but unexplored – side rackets pursued by Rudy Giuliani, his hustler pals Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas and others. These unknowns appear to contain at least substantial venal corruption, likely subversion of US foreign policy and even possible subversion by foreign nation states.

For all of these reasons, ones that are both substantive and narrowly political, it seems crazy to leave these questions unanswered. And yet I think they should. People talk about whether the Democrats should go small or go big. I think it’s more whether they should go fast or go slow.
journalism  objectivity 
december 2019 by scritic
Materializations through political work - Jenni Brichzin,
This article investigates the opposition between politics and work in common political understandings by engaging with the materiality of politics in parliaments. It demonstrates the need for current research on politics to deal with problems similar to those faced by early laboratory studies investigating scientific practice. At the same time, the paper highlights a crucial difference between research on science and research on politics: The common understanding of politics appears to face an influential double bind, with truthful rationality on one side and democratic legitimacy on the other. In an effort to overcome this double bind, political work is introduced as a form of work that deals with transitions between matters of fact and matters of concern by materializing forceful ideas. Ethnographic research on four parliamentary levels in Germany retraces how political actors struggle to produce these forceful ideas, which have the ability to assemble groups and move people. By dealing with the plethora of vastly diverse matters of concern populating parliaments, parliamentary actors resort to rapid shifts between different work modes, namely the political game, the settling of issues, and political composition. Each of these modes engages differently with the main resources – the law, the positions of political opponents, scientific facts and narrations – to materialize political ideas and thus aims to shift the composition of reality.
journalism  objectivity 
december 2019 by scritic
The commercialisation of Internet-opinion management: How the market is engaged in state control in China - Rui Hou,
This article examines how market actors are actively engaged in state control of the Internet in China by studying the emerging industry of Internet-opinion management in that country. It presents an ecology of this industry, identifies three main market actors whose competitiveness is deeply rooted in the Chinese political context and identifies three stages of state-market collaboration. This article sheds light on how the rise of big data has strengthened state capacity for Internet control. It provides original evidence for how the profit motive drives Chinese data companies and media organisations to seek active involvement in the institutional construction of Internet-opinion control. This article also contributes to the literature on repression and contentious politics. It demonstrates that by relying on the market, authoritarian states are able to turn advanced technology into a repressive tool, which makes it more difficult for their citizens to use the Internet to mobilise.
journalism  objectivity 
december 2019 by scritic
Online content moderation and the Dark Web: Policy responses to radicalizing hate speech and malicious content on the Darknet | Jardine | First Monday
The first three steps of the surface-to-dark Web content cycle are easiest to directly observe with the recent rash of surface Web moderation efforts and the resulting displacement of content to the Darknet. The last step of the cycle — informational percolation from the Darknet to the surface Web — is less easy to directly observe without a longer duration between delistings, restrictions, and bans and extensive data collection efforts. Yet, three pathways exist by which malicious content that has been displaced to the Darknet can percolate back to the surface Web: 1) direct resurgence on the surface Web; 2) migration through multi-media content pieces (pictured memes; infographics; slogans); and, 3) percolation through idea networks.

In the first case, the operators of delisted sites or banned accounts might work opportunistically to again find purchase on the surface Web (N.F. Johnson, et al., 2019). For example, The Daily Stormer continued after its delisting to try to find a favorable top-level domain to host its content. During this process, the site was briefly available on .ru (Russia), .al (Albania), .at (Austria) and .ws (Western Samoa) country-level TLDs (Lavin, 2018). Likewise, at a more micro scale, social media users tied to banned accounts can, with varying degrees of ease depending on the platform in question, simply return to the site under a new handle or username.

In the second pathway, the persistent core of content hosted on the Dark Web can sustain a community of ideas that produces novel (often collaboratively derived) multi-media memes, tropes, and slogans that can then migrate back into the surface Web. A user could, for example, frequent a displaced site on the Darknet, see a new multimedia meme and then use the Tor browser to anonymously post the image on a surface Web discussion forum, messaging board, or social media site (Oboler, 2012). Similar migration of memes from the recesses of the Internet to the mainstream has happened before, from trolls getting Opera Winfrey to say “9,000 penises” on air in 2008 to tropes about the birth place of U.S. President Barrack Obama (Phillips, 2016). This pathway of percolation is often exacerbated by mainstream media coverage (Phillips, 2016), as was the case in 2018 when the “NPC meme” depicting personality devoid automatons as a description of political liberals began being heavily shared on Twitter following coverage in the New York Times (Alexander, 2018).

The last pathway of percolation is similar to the second pathway, but more ephemeral. It captures, effectively, the movement of memes in its classic sense as defined by Richard Dawkins as a “unit of cultural transmission” (Dawkins, 2016) — that is, it is the more amorphous spread of ideas, as opposed to the sharing of reified cultural artifacts such as a hate-filled multimedia picture or video (Oboler, 2012). Informational content is two sided: it can always be both produced and consumed. When consumed it becomes ideas in people’s minds, which can reform or reinforce opinions and shape behavior. Here, users of the Tor browser might view displaced content on the Darknet and then have their worldview gradually shifted. Indeed, leaked style guides for the Daily Stormer indicate that this percolation of ideas is key:

The goal is to continually repeat the same points, over and over and over again. The reader is at first drawn in by curiosity or the naughty humor, and is slowly awakened to the reality by repeatedly reading the same points. We are able to keep these points fresh by applying them to current events (cited in Feinberg, 2017).
In short, from an informational perspective, the surface Web and the Dark Web exist as an interconnected whole. Content moderation efforts on the surface Web are at best partial, with the Dark Web providing an alternative core from which malicious content producers and consumers can continue their routine. Working to correct for society’s growing information problem requires attention to the whole system, not just the happenings on the major surface Web hubs.
journalism  objectivity 
december 2019 by scritic
All the News That’s Fit to Click: The Economics of Clickbait Media: Political Communication: Vol 0, No 0
The news media industry has changed as the internet and social media have matured and become integral to modern life. I describe these changes through a theoretical analysis of the economic structure of the industry and explore the implications for scholars of online media and politics. The crux of my argument is that social media simultaneously serves as a distribution platform and reputation builder, as social recommendations take the place of expensive investments in high-quality journalism. This development rendered crucial portions of previous models of the market for news inaccurate due to the declining importance of firm reputation. This mechanism interacts with the massive heterogeneity in digital literacy and growing animosity toward the news media among conservatives to create “credibility cascades,” which I argue are a necessary condition for Fake News to flourish.
journalism  objectivity 
december 2019 by scritic
Why liberal satire and conservative outrage are both responses to mainstream media — but with very different powers » Nieman Journalism Lab
Yes, the content, effects, and aesthetics of liberal satire and conservative opinion talk are completely different. So it can seem counterintuitive to conceptualize satire as any kind of liberal equivalent to conservative opinion talk. But we know that the two genres serve parallel functions for their audiences: highlighting important issues and events, setting their audiences’ agendas, framing the terms of debate, informing them on ideologically resonant issues, and even mobilizing them. And we know that the audiences of both liberal satire and conservative outrage show low trust in news, low trust in institutions, and enormous political efficacy (meaning confidence that they are equipped to participate politically). And both showed up in America’s living rooms within three months of each other in 1996 — each framed as a response to problematic aspects of television news.
polarization  journalism  objectivity 
december 2019 by scritic
Should Journalists Be Part of the Resistance? – Mother Jones
The Times can’t and shouldn’t be part of a capital-R, partisan Resistance, but it better damn well be part of the lowercase-r resistance against authoritarianism and illiberalism. And if leaders like Baquet are worried about taking sides against the latter, they are failing (not to get grandiose, but dammit, it’s Defcon One here) their sacred mission.
journalism  objectivity 
december 2019 by scritic
Bad Romance - Columbia Journalism Review
For the next few decades, the Enquirer perfected the art of publishing thinly sourced celebrity drivel next to explosive scoops. We had it to thank for the infamous 1987 photo of Senator Gary Hart with Donna Rice, his mistress, on his lap. In 1995, the Enquirer published damning photos of O.J. Simpson in the “ugly ass” suede Bruno Magli boots he swore he didn’t own (prints from a pair in size twelve had been found all over the scene of his wife’s murder). In time, circulation dipped, staff thinned, editors were repeatedly sacked, ownership changed, offices moved, vultures circled, and an anthrax attack took an employee’s life. But the headlines kept coming: Rush Limbaugh Addicted to Pills! John Edwards’s Secret Love Child! Steve Jobs, Weeks to Live! 

When it came to the “tabloid president,” however, the Enquirer buried the news. Recently, I sat down to read what it’s produced over the past few years. (You can do this too, in the periodicals room of the New York Public Library on Forty-Second Street. People will look at you funny.) For the first six months of 2015, aside from the odd item on Michelle Obama’s supposed taxpayer-funded Botox injections, the Enquirer barely covered Washington. In the second half of that year, however, after Trump declared for president, the Enquirer changed course. It began running a few kinds of stories: One, nonstop pathological content about how Hillary Clinton was on the verge of jail or death. Two, unprovable scoops about Trump’s primary-campaign rivals (e.g., Ben Carson left a sponge in someone’s skull). Three, uncomfortably gauzy first-person tell-alls from Trump. 
objectivity  journalism 
november 2019 by scritic
Sacha Baron Cohen unloads on Facebook | Revue
Those qualms aside, what has stayed with me most about Cohen’s speech is the way it captures the new conventional wisdom among left-leaning critics: that Facebook disproportionately benefits the right wing. (Plenty of conservatives believe the exact opposite, of course.)
The thought that Facebook empowers the far right is not exactly new. Anxiety that Facebook had become a handmaiden to the conservative movement lay at the root of Cambridge Analytica blowing up into a global scandal in 2018, two years after we knew most of the details. (We knew that Facebook was sharing our data with third parties. What most of us didn’t know was that third parties were using that data as part of sophisticated, micro-targeted political influence campaigns.)
But there is new evidence of Facebook’s material support of the right wing. In the Wall Street Journal this weekend, Deepa Seetharaman profiled James Barnes, who Facebook once embedded in the Trump campaign to help officials there use the company’s advertising platform. Barnes, who like a growing number of former Facebook employees experienced a crisis of conscience over the work he did there, revealed that the company had made unusual arrangements to ensure Trump could buy the maximum amount of ads:
The profile lays out the extraordinary amount of assistance that Facebook lent Trump. In theory, the same amount of assistance was available to Hillary Clinton, but she declined. Barnes hand-coded custom advertising tools for Trump, ran split tests on advertising copy to see which would be most effective, and offered troubleshooting help whenever asked during what he describes as 12-hour days working on the campaign. He also ensured the company could access a larger line of credit than Facebook had ever previously extended:
platformization  journalism  objectivity  polarization 
november 2019 by scritic
Inside the World of Misinformation
For centuries information was scarce. The math was simple: The higher up the societal food chain you were, the better the information you had. And it could be explosive. Information made Microsoft and it brought down Richard Nixon. It helped us navigate the globe and it feeds the Facebook algorithm. But what happens to society when information ceases to be scarce? This is the question Peter Pomerantsev explores in his finely written and deeply intelligent This is Not Propaganda.
journalism  objectivity 
november 2019 by scritic
With impeachment, America’s epistemic crisis has arrived
Good but with some problematic lines about how epistemology is transpartisan
polarization  journalism  objectivity 
november 2019 by scritic
Katherine Haenschen
Hi! Thanks for visiting my website. 

I'm an academic researcher who studies the intersection of digital media and political participation using quantitative methods, including field experiments and surveys. I have demonstrated the ability of Facebook status updates and email messages to increase voter turnout, and have explored the impact of exposure to political disagreement within Facebook networks on participation. To carry out my research I have developed new methodologies to conduct research within Facebook networks. 

Currently, I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at Virginia Tech. I spent the 2016-2017 academic year as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Princeton University's Center for Information Technology Policy, and a Visiting Scholar at the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life. I earned my PhD from the Moody College of Communication at the University of Texas at Austin in 2016. 
journalism  objectivity  polarization 
november 2019 by scritic
Political Advertising in the United States: Erika Fowler, Michael Franz, Travis Ridout: 9780813349756: Books
Political advertising is as important as ever, ad spending records are broken each election cycle, and the volume of ads aired continues to increase. Political Advertising in the United States is a comprehensive survey of the political advertising landscape and its influence on voters. The authors, co-directors of the Wesleyan Media Project, draw from the latest data to analyze how campaign finance laws have affected the sponsorship and content of political advertising, how 'big data' has allowed for more sophisticated targeting, and how the Internet and social media has changed the distribution of ads. With detailed analysis of presidential and congressional campaign ads and discussion questions in each chapter, this accessibly written book is a must-read for students, scholars and practitioners who want to understand the ins and outs of political advertising.
journalism  objectivity  polarization 
november 2019 by scritic
Facebook’s political ad ban created a disaster in Washington state - The Verge
At the same time, a number of attempts to regulate political advertising on platforms have faced stiff resistance in Congress. The Honest Ads Act, a bipartisan measure championed by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mark Warner (D-VA), would force big tech companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google to treat campaign ads on their platforms like how they’re treated on radio, television, and print, meaning they would need to disclose publicly who paid for them. There are other measures that focus on privacy that would let users opt out of targeted advertising, like Sen. Ron Wyden’s (D-OR) Mind Your Own Business Act. It’s hard to say if these measures will be approved anytime soon, let alone before the 2020 election, but they are filled with enforcement actions the government could take to ensure that platforms are applying their ads policies evenly. For example, Wyden’s bill would authorize the Federal Trade Commission with the ability to fine companies like Facebook and Twitter for first-time offenses, potentially deterring them from misbehaving.

But any policy written into law will ultimately have to be enforced by platforms. And if the past is any test case, those companies may not put much effort into enforcing it even-handedly. If Facebook’s Washington state ban is any guide, the first problem may be incentivizing platforms to pay attention.

Teaching  journalism  objectivity  polarization 
november 2019 by scritic
One of the most famous incidents of campus outrage was totally misrepresented
The university seemed to agree. About a month later, the Oberlin Review reported that the university had agreed “to improve the naming process of meals by not associating excessively modified dishes with specific cultures.”

This was a minor, easily resolved issue involving a handful of students. But everything went sideways, in Patel’s telling, when the New York Post got involved. The right-wing tabloid, part of the Rupert Murdoch empire, published a piece on food controversy at the school titled “Students at Lena Dunham’s college offended by lack of fried chicken.”
polarization  journalism  objectivity 
november 2019 by scritic
Confronting Uncertainty: The Contours of an Inferential Community - Scott A. Eldridge, Henrik Bødker, 2019
his monograph addresses the question of how journalistic knowledge work, and in particular inferential reasoning, as a process of uncertainty reduction is manifested in news texts. We argue this takes place both in and in-between news media within a community of practice. The main premise is that journalistic texts reveal communal processes of knowledge creation and it is within these texts that we see the contours of what we term an “inferential community.” The backdrop to this, is that the digital (news) landscape, political developments, and global issues produce an environment rife with uncertainty. We focus on three contemporary cases around the current U.S. presidency. We are, however, not arguing that the processes we study are altogether new; journalists have always, alone or together, grappled with uncertainty. Rather, we present here a conceptualization based on the premise that current circumstances offer a window into the more fundamental processes of journalistic knowledge work based on inference.
journalism  objectivity 
november 2019 by scritic
The debate over whether the very rich pay lower taxes than you, explained
To pile together several controversial assumptions, pair them with an uncertain estimate relating to the wealthiest people, compile that into a striking new fact that becomes the centerpiece of a media rollout aimed simultaneously at promoting a popular book and intervening in a presidential primary campaign — all this rubs academic instincts the wrong way and helps explain a fair amount of the scholarly backlash to Saez and Zucman.
journalism  objectivity 
november 2019 by scritic
Help! Talk Radio Ate the Presidency!
As Rosenwald explains, talk radio did not set out to be the propaganda arm of the Republican party. In the 1980s, a.m. radio was rapidly losing ground because of f.m. radio’s higher-quality sound for music broadcasting, and it desperately needed a new business model. Talk show hosts, especially Rush Limbaugh, created a new and highly entertaining format that did not require high-quality sound, and they quickly drew a dedicated and profitable audience. Stations reaped the profits and broadcast more hours of conservative talk radio to rake in the earnings. And further, Rosenwald argues, conservative media did not, in fact, come to be at the beck and call of the Republican party. If anything, in that relationship, conservative media has come out on top.
journalism  objectivity 
october 2019 by scritic
News on the Right - Paperback - Anthony Nadler; A.J. Bauer - Oxford University Press
News on the Right
Studying Conservative News Cultures
Anthony Nadler and A.J. Bauer
Offers the first multi-disciplinary examination of conservative news across genre, format, and history
Provides a thorough introduction to the study of conservative news in the United States and beyond
Serves as a helpful primer for scholars and students interested in the various methods, theoretical frameworks, and research questions that guide the study of right-wing media
Theorizes a new multifaceted object of analysis: conservative news cultures
Presents case studies of sparsely researched topics such as NRA TV, evangelical radio, Fox News' relationship to country music, and more
journalism  objectivity 
october 2019 by scritic
Crowdsourced Fact-Checking Doesn’t Work for Microtargeted Information
Crowdsourced fact-checking only works when “the crowd” all encounter the same facts. On Facebook, the this is not the case, and that is by design. Would-be fact-checkers may never encounter a piece of dishonest content, and if they do, those inclined to believe the content (because it supports their existing worldview) are less likely to encounter the fact-checker’s debunking.
journalism  objectivity 
october 2019 by scritic
Micro-targeting, the quantified persuasion | Internet Policy Review
During the past three decades there has been a persistent, and dark, narrative about political micro-targeting. But while it might seem that the micro-targeting practices of campaigns have massive, and un-democratic, electoral effects, decades of work in political communication should give us pause. What explains the outsized concerns about micro-targeting in the face of the generally thin evidence of its widespread and pernicious effects? This essay argues that we have anxieties about micro-targeting because we have anxieties about democracy itself. Or, to put it differently, that scholars often hold up an idealised vision of democracy as the standard upon which to judge all political communication.
journalism  objectivity  polarization 
october 2019 by scritic
Stop the Presses? Moving From Strategic Silence to Strategic Amplification in a Networked Media Ecosystem - Joan Donovan, danah boyd,
In a media ecosystem besieged with misinformation and polarizing rhetoric, what the news media chooses not to cover can be as significant as what they do cover. In this article, we examine the historical production of silence in journalism to better understand the role amplification plays in the editorial and content moderation practices of current news media and social media platforms. Through the lens of strategic silence (i.e., the use of editorial discretion for the public good), we examine two U.S.-based case studies where media coverage produces public harms if not handled strategically: White violence and suicide. We analyze the history of journalistic choices to illustrate how professional and ethical codes for best practices played a key role in producing a more responsible field of journalism. As news media turned to online distribution, much has changed for better and worse. Platform companies now curate news media alongside user generated content; these corporations are largely responsible for content moderation on an enormous scale. The transformation of gatekeepers has led an evolution in disinformation and misinformation, where the creation and distribution of false and hateful content, as well as the mistrust of social institutions, have become significant public issues. Yet it is not just the lack of editorial standards and ethical codes within and across platforms that pose a challenge for stabilizing media ecosystems; the manipulation of search engines and recommendation algorithms also compromises the ability for lay publics to ascertain the veracity of claims to truth. Drawing on the history of strategic silence, we argue for a new editorial approach—“strategic amplification”—which requires both news media organizations and platform companies to develop and employ best practices for ensuring responsibility and accountability when producing news content and the algorithmic systems that help spread it.
journalism  objectivity 
october 2019 by scritic
ThinkProgress Was Always Doomed
ThinkProgress was notable for its editorial independence from its think tank parent (which its editorial union had enshrined in their contract), and for how often that editorial independence got the site in trouble with its think tank parent, which on a few occasions led that parent to violate the spirit of that editorial independence.

It was always odd for a mainstream liberal think tank to have an independent journalism arm—“independent thought” is the last thing the people and institutions who fund think tanks are paying for—but you have to remember that in the Bush years, everyone thought independent journalism was politically useful to the Democratic Party, and would remain so indefinitely. Regardless of why anyone believed that, it has turned out instead that truly independent liberal journalism can be something of an annoyance for certain institutional actors within the Democratic Party. They really couldn’t have known, at the time, that their little bloggers would go on to do things like offer criticism of the Israeli government or pepper Hillary Clinton with questions about Iraq.

In that light, you can almost see the shuttering of ThinkProgress—and the attempt to relaunch a neutered version—as a skirmish in the battle being fought over many of the other institutions that collectively make up what we imprecisely call “The Democratic Party.”
journalism  objectivity 
september 2019 by scritic
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