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Thu Jun 2, 2016, 02:41 PM

The Increasing Problem With the Misinformed

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Written by Thomas Baekdal on March 7, 2016

When discussing the future of newspapers, we have a tendency to focus only on the publishing side. We talk about the changes in formats, the new reader behaviors, the platforms, the devices, and the strange new world of distributed digital distribution, which are not just forcing us to do things in new ways, but also atomizes the very core of the newspaper.

But while the publishing side of things is undergoing tremendous changes, so is the journalistic and editorial side. The old concept of creating a package of news was designed for a public that we assumed was uninformed by default, but this is no longer the case.

The public is no longer uninformed. They are misinformed, and that requires an entirely different editorial focus. When writing for the uninformed, your focus is to report the news, which is what every newspaper is doing today. But when focusing on the misinformed, just reporting the news doesn't actually solve the public's needs. Now your focus must be on explaining the news instead.

So, in this article, we will talk about the rise of the misinformed using some really interesting data, as well as the threat to freedom of the press. And we will talk about how these two things are directly impacting your ability to succeed as a news company.

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Arrow 7 replies Author Time Post
Reply The Increasing Problem With the Misinformed (Original post)
LostOne4Ever Jun 2016 OP
whatthehey Jun 2016 #1
laserhaas Jun 2016 #4
Volaris Jun 2016 #6
elljay Jun 2016 #2
Igel Jun 2016 #3
elljay Jun 2016 #5
Onlaketime Jun 2016 #7

Response to LostOne4Ever (Original post)

Thu Jun 2, 2016, 03:43 PM

1. Yes it's a nice idea

But he only mentions monetizing once and with no detail.

You need a well-trained and equipped research department with access to do what he suggests, a small audience and no revenue stream. There's a reason the Kardashians get eyeballs and $$ while thoughtful analysis lumbers on a dying shoestring. The time for this article was the day after Survivor debuted to massive audiences, or Fox News began to capture eyeballs. It's too late - the misinformed have more numbers and more money.

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Response to whatthehey (Reply #1)

Thu Jun 2, 2016, 06:52 PM

4. There's not much profit...in doing the right thing


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Response to laserhaas (Reply #4)

Fri Jun 3, 2016, 01:20 AM

6. That's why newsrooms (print and broadcast/cable) should be not-for-profit,

And subsidized the same as Public Utilities. If you want to make money at it instead of accolades for good reporting, it should be called entertainment.

Fox news and Rush Limbaugh would be off the air in a month.

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Response to LostOne4Ever (Original post)

Thu Jun 2, 2016, 05:56 PM

2. He proved his own premise

by lumping Israel, which has a generally free press and a liberal Supreme Court that regularly upholds civil rights with Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Turkey. Freedom House would beg to differ in the analysis. Israel, while having issues with military censorship and Sheldon Adelson ( and who doesn't?) is described as having a robust press. Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are clearly described as being Not Free. Call Netanyahu an idiot in press and nothing will happen. This is a classic example of misinformation that crosses the line from informed critique into the classic dog whistle of antisemitism. If you criticize three Muslim states, you must then balance it by showing the Jewish state is just as bad. Except it factually isn't, though there are plenty of Christian, Muslim, Buddhist and atheist states that are not free and among the worst places for freedom in the world (looking at you, North Korea!). The author himself failed to get precisely the type of information that he mentioned in his article.


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Response to elljay (Reply #2)

Thu Jun 2, 2016, 06:35 PM

3. You're being kind.

Look at the Megyn Kelly Twitter insult graph.

There's an initial burst of invective, then it follows a decay curve. Some days are worse than others, but off hand the best-fit curve is a classic decay curve.

Something was done to rev up the abuse machine a year later. And the invective level after that is following (it seems, given just the data shown) a decay curve.

Yet the grown-up discussing how misinformed everybody is describes it as monotonically increasing levels of invective.

We've always had the misinformed. We just didn't have to listen to them. Now they feel entitled because all opinions are equally valid.

Heck, a lot of students aren't really clear on the idea that there are facts. They've been taught simplified versions of things then told they were taught wrong. They don't get the "this is simplified, now for a bit more elaboration" riff.

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Response to Igel (Reply #3)

Thu Jun 2, 2016, 08:42 PM

5. Hasn't blown that up on the iPhone screen

but, yeah, it doesn't help him. And, you really expanded on my point- there seems to be this compulsion to present "both sides of the story," with the implication that both are equally valid. Sure, the consensus is that the world is round, but some say that it is flat. Uh, no, there is still such a thing as right and wrong.

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Response to LostOne4Ever (Original post)

Sat Jun 4, 2016, 12:20 AM

7. Judging from the Yahoo news feed daily,


there is really no such thing as solid news anymore. It all reads like a superfast wall of insanity. I think that is why people have given up on the media.

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