Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Emily Bell on Elusive Objectivity

Emily Bell of Tow Center for Digital Journalism notes that the traditional focus of journalism has been on making sure that every word that appeared in public had been triple checked & "lawyered," and that it has not invested in tools/technologies that could potentially help produce better quality reporting.
Bell points out that a quality journal like the Guardian (where she once worked) spent a lot of time, effort and money assuring that the things that it printed were true. In the crisis of journalism caused by the Internet, with people seeking information elsewhere and the financial basis for journals decaying, most are having to cut back on fact checking.

The Internet has its own ways of attaining quality of assertions. Think of Wikipedia with its social networking approach to fact checking. Think of Amazon with its reviews of books and quality judgments of the reviews.

The interesting question is whether we as individuals can find better ways of fact checking for the facts we attend to. Can we find better ways of  selecting the facts to which we attend. We know that people make better decisions in groups than alone, so perhaps social networking is such an approach.

On the other hand, can we find ways to network with the right people, or will we network with people who share our biases and ignorance. The newsroom of a quality journal found a way to get well qualified people to work together -- it hired them and put a well qualified and experienced journalist in charge of them. I find a history book club, based on self selected members of the book store frequenting public, to be a good way to gather people to select and comment on books of history. My Linked In group, UNESCO's Friends, seems a way to gather interested people to share and discuss UNESCO via the Internet.

Anyone reading this who wants to chime in, please leave a comment.

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