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View Diary: Social Scientists Are Better Than Journalists at Journalism (54 comments)

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  •  Tipped and rec’d – a thoughtful essay (1+ / 0-)
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    lazybum

    I liked the concept that information and news is less scarce than it was, say 50 years ago. I never thought about applying the economic idea of scarcity to news (and by the way, my father was a college economics professor – although he told me once he prefers the philosophical economists, like Thorstein Veblen, to the mathematical/calculus guys who look for trends in the price of pork bellies.

    I was thinking about how little news there was when I was a kid (this would be the 1960s). We got the local daily newspaper (AP stories and local reporters), Time magazine (once a week), and we watched Huntley/Brinkley (30 minute national TV news). In retrospect, that’s not a lot of news. But those three sources gave me enough information to be better informed than many adults I knew. I remember, somewhat later (probably the 1970s or 80s) when I saw CNN in a hotel room and I thought “That’s great that you can get news 24 hours a day, but how do they fill up all those hours?”).

    When I was in college and just out of college, I used to have a shelf of reference books. Dictionary, almanac, thesaurus, atlas, etc. Because sometimes you just need to know the definition of a word. Or who won the world series in 1961. Now I don’t need those books. Everything can be found on the internet. Sometimes I browse the internet, clicking on links, the way I used to page through reference books. Just to find interesting facts.

    But you can’t trust everything you read on the internet. And you can’t trust the internet to always give you the truth. One example: Apparently it's not true that the flush toilet was invented by Thomas Crapper (but ten zillion web sites believe this is a fact). Second example: "History is written by the victors" is a really good quote, but the internet won't tell you who said it with certainty (like which author said it in which book and which page).

    When news was relatively scarce, journalists had to compete for the good jobs, so there was some modicum of accuracy and ethics. Now anyone can write anything on a blog, whether it makes sense or not. Half the time, people are just repeating what they heard on another blog. And once something goes viral, everybody has heard about it.

    I could write a lot more, but I’ll stop. Thanks for posting this.

    But the angle said to them, "Do not be Alfred. A sailor has been born to you"

    by Dbug on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 09:14:57 PM PST

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