Bias and Truth

28Jun08

First, the good news. I’m officially back on the blogging track. Second, the bad news. The focus still isn’t too specific, but hopefully as I continue to post and link to stuff things will start to converge at one point or another.

So I’ve been thinking a lot lately about truth and media. I’ve picked up a number of new news feeds that focus on media bias. In particular:

When viewed together, they’ve become a very enlightening look at some of the things you don’t hear in the news media. It’s made very clear the fact that all sources of information are biased in one way or another.

This idea, however, has got me thinking about the goals of the news media I consume. Should the outlets aim to be objective, fair, and balanced? Should they strive for “hard news” instead of infotainment? Does privatization and consolidation have a negative effect on what gets covered?

Dan Carlin recently did a show (Show 127) talking about this concept, and he argued that he didn’t want his news to be objective. He wanted news that was biased in the name of truth. News that didn’t bow to any political viewpoint over the other rather than pay both sides lip service and call it a day. News that was viciously anti-government, particularly in times of war, since quotes from that source are most likely to have been considered from all viewpoints before release.

This sounds great on the surface, but I imagine the problem is actually knowing what this “truth” is. Dan gives a foreign reporter as an example of someone who simply “calls it like it is” when they are on the scene. I think that’s probably right, but in today’s news culture, such reporting can only go so far. Today’s media is saturated with analysis beyond literal reporting, attempting to give consumers “the whole story” behind an issue. Though there is some concern that the current media landscape is in danger of disagreeing on even basic facts, I’d argue that this analysis level, when fact is blurred with interpretation, opinion, and prediction prediction, is where truth becomes lost amid the voices shouting different things.

I’m a fan of Dan’s truth-biased news however, so I think we should aim for truth in media. How? Well I’ll explore that in future posts, but let’s cover a high level summary here:

  • Define what constitutes truth in the context we’d like to use it
  • Assess if truth can be agreed upon given varying perspectives
  • Find a way to keep relevant information handy for assessing truth
  • Use this template to assess analysis currently ongoing in the media
  • OR
  • Create an information source to rival others based on this method

It seems simple enough from a high level, but the devil will be in the details. I’ll detail my view of what’s necessary for these steps in later posts. Until then feel free to comment on my approach, or whether you think this is even possible.

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2 Responses to “Bias and Truth”

  1. Very nice!!

  2. nice work, dude


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