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Friday, September 01, 2017

Engineering the News

Unfortunately, since recommending Glenn Greenwald back in January, his useful-information to opinion ratio has declined precipitously. While I do mostly agree with his opinions of late, reading opinions is rarely a good investment of anyone's time.

I hesitate to post a backup suggestion of Consortium News who has similarly drifted toward increasing opining at the expense of true investigative reporting. But they are, at least, an alternative viewpoint a few notches away from the mainstream narrative while still retaining a fair measure of integrity, and peppered among their opinion pieces is the occasional fact-laden investigative piece. (Though I expect or hope that Glenn will turn out more of those in the future as well.)

So let me turn the mic back to you. The MSM runs and turns together like a flock of panicked sheep. Whether controlled from the top or mere victims of their own hive minds, when what is treated implicitly as obvious within all the MSM is both so unified at any given moment and yet self-contradictory over time, it is at best a vehicle of unintentional propaganda. On the other end are sites and sources that focus on anything and everything counter to that ("conspiracy sites"), which are probably a better place to start if you want to pick through the output of a paper shredder and reconstruct the truth, but who has time for that? So I ask y'all: Where is the best investigative journalism today?

I'd even be quite happy with a full house of quite biased sources as long as they have integrity. E.g., a site that only investigates corruption in the US and another site that only investigates corruption in Russia may both be overtly biased in their aims and yet can still be true and fair in their methods; and when combined they make for a decent picture of the world.

I think of sites like RT (Russia Times), English addition, which is clearly biased toward exposing issues and corruption of the west. The default American Intellectual response is to dismiss them then as propaganda; whereas I think: How great! Finally someone with a vested interest in digging up our dirt. I think everyone in every country should read a good daily dose of the best foreign news targeted at them, because it may be the most honest reflection they'll ever see. Obviously I mean to apply good sense in vetting the quality and proven integrity, but the key point is to distinguish lack of integrity from bias -- bias alone does not diminish the quality of the news (it can even significantly increase it when no other incentive rewards truth), it just requires balancing with counter-biased sources.

Which leads me to wonder: If provided two news sources of both high integrity and bias, one which regularly exposes everything wrong with your in-group (or ideology), and one with your out-group, what is the personality divide that separates those who would subscribe (and stay subscribed) to one vs. the other vs. both? I suspect the in-group subscribers are a tiny minority, and we might call them the Engineers.

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Simon Funk / simonfunk@gmail.com