Newspaper Reader / News Is Dead! / Agnotology

Newspaper Reader - News Is Dead! - Agnotology

I have to admit that I rarely read a "paper" newspaper any longer. I get my news from about a dozen sources and blogs online, which further link to hundreds of other sources. For the last 5 or 6 years, I also don't care much about what is written or said in the mainstream media. They are guilty of omission bias, rarely covering truly important news, instead, pushing sensational stories.

News, specifically newspapers, seem to have suffered because of the Internet. Their circulations and revenues are way down. Although there are some great journalists covering important stories, their coverage is being chopped by editors, hidden from view, and being "balanced" to appeal to relevant power structures (corporations, parties, governments).

News Blogs are not any better. Unlike "real" journalists, blogs mix facts with their opinions, often twisting things to match their agenda. It's becoming really hard to separate fact from fad. Even some scientists are playing the game - scientific misconduct is on the rise. Take an issue like Hydraulic Fracturing. Good luck sorting through news stories and "scientific" papers to get a basic understanding of it's advantages and dangers. Here's the Fracking Research Issues section of the Wikipedia article:
  • Several organizations, researchers, and media outlets have reported difficulty in conducting and reporting the results of studies on hydraulic fracturing due to industry and governmental pressure, and expressed concern over possible censoring of environmental reports. Researchers have recommended requiring disclosure of all hydraulic fracturing fluids, testing animals raised near fracturing sites, and closer monitoring of environmental samples. After court cases concerning contamination from hydraulic fracturing are settled, the documents are sealed. The American Petroleum Institute deny that this practice has hidden problems with gas drilling, while others believe it has and could lead to unnecessary risks to public safety and health".
This is typical of many issues that are significant to our lives; from politics, to the economy, to defense and to the environment... News is Dead!

I'm unwillingly becoming an agnotologist. Agnotology is the study of culturally induced ignorance or doubt, particularly the publication of inaccurate or misleading scientific data. You know, the feeling you get of knowing less and having more doubt after you thoroughly research a subject, that is what agnotology studies.

Song of the Day: Read About It - Midnight Oil (1982)
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