When it comes to news, I trust NO ONE to tell me the truth. I think it’s as likely that Bill Maher tells me the truth as Katie Couric. Both work in media, after all. Both are known to stretch the truth to make a point.
So I don’t trust them to tell the truth.
My recommendation is don’t get your “news” from a cable comedy show. And, don’t get your “news” from a journalist that freely admitted she edited an interview to make a point … while misrepresenting the people she was interviewing.
Today, I read Pew Research’s latest finding about where people are getting their news today, and it saddens me to report that more and more people are getting their news from … online providers with no proven journalistic integrity. You know, companies like Google. Facebook. Verizon.
Big tech companies, every one. Proven to skirt the truth, every one. Pushing their agenda over truth, every one.
In the case of Google, they were investigated by the DOJ, who found that they were slanting their search algorithm to favor their profit over quality information. The specific case was about travel providers: they put their in-house company above outside providers even when the outside provider had better options for the traveler.
Did they disclose this? No.
Then, they were found to have skewed search results so that if you were using the auto complete function for searches, you might miss that Hilary Clinton was being investigated and might be indicted. Specifically, if you typed in “Hilary Clinton Ind” the auto complete suggestions were Hillary Clinton Indiana and Hillary Clinton India. The result that was actually 8 times more popular was “Hillary Clinton Indictment,” and that wasn’t an autocomplete option.
Facebook employees have gleefully disclosed that they made sure conservative news stories were de-emphasized in their member’s news feeds. Was this sanctioned by management? By some management? No one is admitting it, of course, just as the IRS never admitted that it targeted conservative non profits. It just happened. Oops.
Verizon’s case is just as insidious, and it’s rooted in the idea of “net neutrality.” Verizon believes that it should be able to sell its piece of the information superhighway to the highest bidder … so, if, for example, they can get more money from Fox News or CNN or ABC, then they should be able to provide that information to their subscribers in a powerful way. They want news that you get on “their” devices to be controlled by their profits. You, the subscriber, committed to a 2-year contract, should get no say in the matter.
According to Verizon.
Fortunately, that concept was just shot down – resoundingly – by the US District Court of Appeals. Perhaps Verizon won’t get their way.
And that’s a very good thing, as more and more people are getting their “news” from these high tech companies, and those companies are getting an ever-increasing share of the advertising pie … meaning that traditional media companies have fewer and fewer resources to provide good journalism that’s vetted by multiple sources and untainted by a secret political agenda.
Here’s how TechCrunch describes Pew’s findings about our news consumption habits:
Pew found that nearly four-in-ten U.S. adults (38%) said they often get news from digital sources, including news websites or apps (28%) and social networking sites (18%). That still trails the 57% who often get news from a television source but outpaces both radio (25%) and print newspapers (20%).
Instead of news media benefiting from growth in digital ad spending, Pew notes how tech companies such as Facebook and Apple have succeeded in supplanting the choices and aims of news outlets with “their own choices and goals” as their platforms have become the dominant sources for content distribution, taking over the role that used to belong to newspapers.
And while the concentration of digital ad spending in the hands of a handful of tech giants began on desktop platforms, Pew says the data shows it “quickly took root in the rapidly growing mobile realm as well” — which the report also notes accounted for slightly more than half of all digital ad spending last year.
So, beware of who you trust in the information game. High tech companies have no legal responsibility to be “agenda neutral,” and yet more and more people are trusting them to give them (key word: GIVE) information with a minimum of fuss.
Journalism, I mourn for thee.