The 2016 presidential race has, at long last, illustrated the clear and urgent need for journalists to be more than stenographers or writers of milquetoast, "he-said-she-said" missives that regardless won't satisfy the true believers of Fox News' "fair-and-balanced" fiction. The election suddenly elevated the importance of fact checking and, even, for the still-sadly small number … Continue reading After 2016: Planning for a ‘post-fact-checking’ era
It was bad enough when workers were first labeled "human resources." It became even more disturbing with the more recent term, "human capital" ... as if the many individuals who work for any one company amount to little more than numerical entries in a vast, digital ledger somewhere. Now, the dizzying advances in big data … Continue reading Big-data hubris makes us lose sight of real people
I have a couple of questions for anyone defending the ethics of Facebook's recent "emotional contagion" experiment on nearly 700,000 unsuspecting users: would it be OK to mess with the heads of your closest friends and relatives -- your children, even -- without their knowledge? If you say yes, what if a few of those … Continue reading Facebook defenders: Is it really OK to mess with people’s heads?
Why does blatant misinformation persist in the face of so much evidence to the contrary? One big reason is money. Another is people's biases and desires. Combine those two, and the result is almost inevitable: it's often highly profitable to tell people things they want to hear ... no matter how untrue those things might … Continue reading Why does blatant misinformation persist?
A PandoDaily article by Jeremy Massler and Adam L. Penenberg provides a brilliant illustration of how online investigative journalism should work. In their March 26, 2014, article, "Busted! How we unmasked the man behind the Internet's cruelest celebrity death hoaxes," Massler and Penenberg describe how persistence and paintstaking research enabled them to identify the man … Continue reading This is how you unmask online hoaxers
Journalist Steve Buttry has an excellent post on his blog about why journalists -- not sources -- are to blame when news stories prove to be inaccurate. Reporters, he writes, have an obligation to "find the truth and to verify the facts that appear important enough for us to publish" ... not to shrug off … Continue reading Uncritically quoting sources who are wrong? That’s wrong
Global warming has not "paused." Despite regular reports in the press about how global warming has slowed down or stopped for years now, that is not the case. As researcher Kevin E. Trenberth and John T. Fasullo note in their Dec. 2013 article in the journal "Earth's Future," "An apparent hiatus in global warming?": "Global … Continue reading Global warming has not ‘paused’