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Controversial Social Issues Discussions concerning controversial social issues. Topics include politics, religion, culture, social and economic issues, etc. Respect required at all times.

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Old 06-17-2010, 01:25 AM
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robjones robjones is offline
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Coming at 10: Lies, Damned Lies, and other News

How Do You Research a Hot Topic?
Having participated in forums for a decade and change... I've found there are a lot of methods. I'm Google guy myself. I'll read blogs, I'll read news, and I'll quickly admit there's increasingly less difference between the two.

Quotes and Pictures
Basically I focus largely on quotes and pictures, and I compare across a spectrum of sources to TRY and get the quotes right and makes sure the pictures arent doctored or cropped into meaninglessness (see Reuters crops pics). I do this because if you compare you will find the quotes sometimes are given in a larger context in one source than others and offers a MUCH better idea what they meant.

Blogs are NOT a straight news source, but unlike "mainstream news" they dont generally pretend to be standing on a mountaintop giving us the news on stone tablets as God dictated it to them. They have a point of view, they'll generally admit that. Still there have been a number of occasions where a sharp eyed blogger picked up a trail and eventually the mainstream guys had to grudgingly admit they'd missed it.

More often than we'd like it's probably a blog that tips the mainstream news anyway... the big guys arent always that good at giving credit where due if they think they can avoid it.

Anyway, blogs make good news aggregators, but it is important to recognize where the news part stops and the editorializing starts. Confusing the two is a rookie error.

The idea of an online encyclopedia is nice, and look at wikipedia to see what's there... BUT it bears repeating that especially with politically sensitive topics it is often no more or less accurate than reading this forum because it is compiled by people just like us and they do have opinions and biases of their own.

As you can see from those last two links, revisions are often a seesaw battle between two or more parties with entrenched positions and some revisions are made without consensus and later discovered, undone, reapplied, etc. As the popularity grows, so does the probability there's a tug-of-war in the background with conflicting interests trying to get THEIR side be the official version.

My point is that Wikipedia is shaded by the character of the people participating on any given page. Some pages will be excellent though still subject to the Point of View of the authors... others will be a source of unintended comedy due to deliberate propagandizing or vandalism. NEVER assume that something is 100% right because it is in Wikipedia. It's a good sign it *might* be right, but it isnt proof. Check to see how they sourced it.

Google News
A very good tool to use is Google News. In this case the advanced search is excellent because it allows you to look at stories by date. For example you can ask for articles printed containing "Mavi Mamara" that occured before May 31 (date of the raid) and get the results in chrono order starting with the oldest.

Using that method you find the news stories indicating the govt of Turkey was heavily supporting the flotilla, and the had warned the Israelis to let it thru. After the fact that might not be evident, but reading what people said BEFORE the topic became a humongous furor makes it easier to remove revisionist history.

You also see the quotes of flotilla organizers saying this was really about breaking the blockade, not about hunmanitarian aid... then you see stories where it is claimed it is all about humanitarian aid. In some cases it depended on their audience most likely, so again it pays to read multiple sources.

Pay attention to the POV of the speaker...
For example, read two stories about the one event involving President Obama.... one by Fox News and one by MSNBC. They are going to have a different slant depending on the POV of the writer. If MSNBC declares he did it better the way God wouldve done it if he were lucky enough to be as bright as Barak... it doesnt carry the same weight as a grudging acceptance by Fox that he performed well.

Conversely if MSNBC criticizes Obama, he probably really did screw up. In the 2008 election I'm pretty sure nobody suspected Fox was trying to choose between Hillary and Barak, and I still havent figured out why MSNBC wasnt shown as the official spokesmen of the Obama campaign. If you're on a foreign topic, consider that the Jerusalem Post and Al Jezeera ARE going to have a different point of view.

Caveat: When considering source, watch for exceptions
Joe Scarbrough at MSNBC is about as far from the MSNBC company line as they get. There's also generally a token liberal at Fox somewhere. Watch the source.

Last but not least - News organizations often LIE THRU THEIR TEETH
I was involved in local politics at school and city levels, and I attended meetings where the press was present and then read the stories the following day. Sometimes the only thing they got right was the date. Seriously. Repoters are human, they get things wrong. Often. Sometimes it is even an accident.

And God help the idiots that were stupid enough to speak to the reporters after the meeting, because the quotes would be mangled and out of context and you only made the mistake of speaking to them if you were a masochist or an idiot.

So some reporters lie to people, and some people lie to reporters. The rest of the time, it is 100% accurate.

Bottom Line
The sources we have access to ARE biased. All of them. Period. Unless we are physically present for an event we will only be able to see it thru the eyes of others. In that respect it pays us to be dilligent in our information gathering and watch for the bias.

We can guard against it somewhat by diversifying our sources and talking POV into consideration, but proving something isnt as easy as just pointing to a single articel or Wiki page. God that it were only so easy. Frankly it's a shame that we have to t

That's my approach (and oddly it didnt start as a book or even a thread... it was supposed to be a reply in another thread). Things do get outta hand. Having shared my thoughts... feel free to share yours. I'm a bit of a zealot on the subject of misconduct by supposed news sources... so I'd like to hear your views on how to authenticate stories.

Last edited by robjones; 06-17-2010 at 01:37 AM.
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Old 06-17-2010, 01:17 PM
Franc Tireur Franc Tireur is offline
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Well a lot of information are available on internet it doesn't mean that is the truth. Like any sources you have to analyse and sort the information. In some cases you have to wait for more information from different views or different sources to make your own.

Sensitive information are subject to manipulations from whatever antity, and more it is controversial and more research you have do.

Information available for public are not all information, and in some cases it is better not to know
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Old 06-17-2010, 10:33 PM
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Jim Gillum Jim Gillum is offline
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I do not have a lot of confidence in media sources......
I realize that they are confined by the "company line"....

But that does not serve the best interests of the public......
They like to try to shape public opinion....

Dealt with them for many years and it seems it all about selling papers....or getting viewers....

(some day I will tell you some stories).......
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Old 06-17-2010, 10:46 PM
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robjones robjones is offline
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Look forward to hearing those stories.

Party Newsletters
One of my more devious news gathering methods... I signed up on a couple of DNC websites before the 2004 election, so I get all the propaganda emails from the Democratic party. [If I want the propaganda from the other side I just open any of the emails from my friends that have a header that starts " Fw:Fw:".] I also get the GOP view from two local elected representatives that I've had to call on business.

Those DNC emails arent exactly known for their unbiased accuracy, but they're never dull. Basically they express some little issue in the shrillest terms possible then ask for money. It does help to know what the guys I tend to distrust more often than not are saying. They arent always wrong on facts obviously, we just come to different conclusions on hiow to address it usually. Still its good to read sources that dont agree with you to see what perspective theyre coming from. Anything I get addressed to "Robbie" comes from their mailing list (keeping track is easier that way).

Like the other sources we've discussed, imperfect... but damned close compared to most. Basically theyre kinda like Snopes.com and they check out political claims... they get it right more often than not.

Last edited by robjones; 06-17-2010 at 10:52 PM.
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Old 06-17-2010, 11:04 PM
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Jim Gillum Jim Gillum is offline
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My second term public information officer had over twenty years as a radio newscaster.....
I sat in on many of the morning press briefings.....

It was very interesting to see how the "sharks" circled the pool....and danced with each other.....

It was also interesting to see what a quote sounded like after it got to print.....

The TV and radio were much different...it is harder to alter a tape.....
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