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Does Personalized News Lead To Ignorance?

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the I-care-what-I-care-about dept.

Media 396

blackbearnh writes "As newspapers struggle to survive and local broadcasts try to find a way to compete with cable news, more and more news outlets are banking on what people want to hear about, rather than what they need to hear. Thoughtful analysis of problems is being pushed out of the way to make room for more celebrity gossip. Electronic news guru Chris Lee thinks that as people get news increasingly tailored to their tastes, the overall knowledge of important issues is plummeting. 'I think one of the observations about how consumers are behaving in the past five years that has surprised me the most is, again, this lack of feeling responsible for knowing the news of their country and their local government of that day. I don't think it's just a technology question. I think if you asked people now versus the same age group 20 years ago, I think they'd be stunningly less informed now about boring news, and tremendously more knowledgeable about bits of news that really interest them.'"

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Well duh! (5, Funny)

spammeister (586331) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932050)

Boring news is called boring because it is indeed boring. If people were interested in boring news then it wouldn't be boring, it would be interesting. Technically anything that is newsworthy shouldn't be boring, because it would be interesting to someone.

Ok now I'm boring myself with this.

Re:Well duh! (5, Insightful)

SailorSpork (1080153) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932072)

Or said another way, one man's trash is another man's treasure. Works for news, too.

Re:Well duh! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30932344)

And eBay.

Re:Well duh! (5, Funny)

MistrX (1566617) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932120)

I don't read boring news, I read slashdot!

Oh wait... I think I just confirmed your post and the article.

Re:Well duh! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30932122)

Newspapers are out because no-one has the time to read them. Real life TL;DR.

The sheer amount of news that you can get makes it hard to actually pay attention to it. Ten years ago I was glued to the evening news at eight-o-clock. That was about the only news you could watch on TV. Nowadays the news is on for 25 hours a day, iterating and re-re-re-iterating the same shallow 'reports'. Who watches that? No-one I know does.

To much of a thing becomes annoying.

Besides, it used to be that local news was covered much more then international news. What do I care about someone on the other side of the planet that just bumped his big toe? That isn't news to me!

And, lastly, watching TV in general is a pain because of the commercial breaks that are longer than the normal programming. It isn't watchable anymore.

Re:Well duh! (1, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932540)

Some people sit down and read newspapers from cover to cover. They may spend an hour each day being acquainted with world affairs, but 90% of that news will have absolutely no effect on their lives other than to let them feel smug about being well informed. Some people watch TV or listen to radio news. They get a summary of the things that the editors of the station think are the most important. They may only spend 5-10 minutes a day listening to the news, but they still get to feel smug and well informed. Other people spend longer looking at news that is personally relevant to them.

If anything, I see this as a positive trend. People have a fixed amount of time that they can devote to exploring the news, via any medium, and it's more productive if they spend most of that time on things that are personally relevant to them. Most people know more about what their national government is doing than their city council, even though the latter has far more direct impact on their lives and it would be nice to see this reversed a little bit.

Re:Well duh! (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932326)

In other words, what we don't want to know can't hurt us...

Re:Well duh! (2, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932370)

yet most americans know who is winning on American Idol...

Sorry, but it's not personalized news that is making people dumb.....

Re:Well duh! (2, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932400)

If the written word is boring, it's the writer him or herself who is boring, not the news or other subject matter. A good writer can write an engaging story about watching paint dry.

The only thing boring about, say, Google getting out of China, or the results of your local elections, is the way this news is presented.

people only care about Paris Hilton because that's what the corporations that own the news outlets want to to care about. "I am the great and powerful wizard of Oz. Do not look at the man behind the curtain."

Re:Well duh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30932576)

No, they're boring because you're ignorant that they're interesting.

What they NEED to hear!? Goebbels quotation?? (1)

viraltus (1102365) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932052)

Repeat with me... Corporations and Governments losing power to people is gooooooood.

Re:What they NEED to hear!? Goebbels quotation?? (4, Insightful)

Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932136)

So if I substituted my news sources with, say, the Washington Post, would I be better informed about Darfur? A suppressed report on Ivory Coast toxic waste dumping? Policy laundering during the ACTA negotiations? Iranian protests? SCO v. IBM? Homeopathy? Anything involving science?

My ears are deaf to these arguments as long as the mainstream press continues to do such a terrible job of keeping the public informed.

I think I'll make another donation to Wikileaks [wikileaks.org]

Re:What they NEED to hear!? Goebbels quotation?? (1)

oDDmON oUT (231200) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932172)

Mod parent UP. You've hit the nail on the head.

Re:What they NEED to hear!? Goebbels quotation?? (1)

narfman0 (979017) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932334)

Need to hear? As if there were some morality associated with hearing particular events some group of people attribute importance to? Need to hear it or else what? To me I'd think the only logical conclusion to me not hearing news is that I wouldn't be informed of it, not like I 'm any less of a man. Want != Need, and different people have different wants.

Re:What they NEED to hear!? Goebbels quotation?? (3, Insightful)

happy_place (632005) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932436)

One trouble is that news sources are no longer monolithic, and therefore folks don't know how to quantify objectivity and quality. Name any news source, and you're likely to find some sort of bent, depending upon who you are and where you come from... It has been noted that Slashdot is a specialized/personal technical news source (for geeks!). It is a great place to get a smattering of all sorts of news going on out there, but if one considers the sorts of stories as being objective, well, they'd have to be daft. Slashdot is full of opinion pieces, entertainment pieces, news rumors, leaks and actual news stories, and then there's the political leanings of this place, and the way the stories are summarized, and the tendency to favor certain software rights models... etc... I guess the question arises, exactly who decides what is a decent news source? Is it based upon popularity? Is there some sort of objectivity sensor that I'm unaware of? And what criteria would that broader, less specialized news content be based upon? Locality? Topicality? Banality? Frivolity? There will always be an expectation for a more objective newssource, and more than enough nonobjective news sources claiming they're filling that gap, but as the audience and news provider communicate, the profit model and the desire to please one another for profit corrupts the whole.

Re:What they NEED to hear!? Goebbels quotation?? (2, Insightful)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932438)

My ears are deaf to these arguments as long as the mainstream press continues to do such a terrible job of keeping the public informed.

That's the entire point.

The mainstream press is delivering what people want to see, rather than what they need to see. Namely, lots of celebrity gossip and very little of substance.

People like fluffy stories... They like to hear about who is sleeping with who... They're interested in shiny bits of tinsel and sparkly rocks...

Businesses, including those who print newspapers, like money.

So the businesses print stories that appeal to people, so the people will buy their newspapers, and the businesses will make money.

And the depressing, complicated, truly important stories that people don't really want to read about... But really should... Get dropped in favor of popular fluff.

Re:What they NEED to hear!? Goebbels quotation?? (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932632)

The mainstream press is delivering what people want to see, rather than what they need to see. Namely, lots of celebrity gossip and very little of substance.

^^^This, plus a bit of "opinion as news" thrown in as well.

The fact that people take folks like Beck and Olbermann seriously is frightening. Even more frightening is when someone's ideas or responses in a political discussion all come from a single news source.

I can accept people willingly living as sheep (hell, I certainly do), but people should at least form their own opinions. Sheesh.

Maybe you're really good choosing your Master... (1)

viraltus (1102365) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932606)

Because it does not matter how good your Master is, one day it might stop being that good but, since you are told ONLY what you need to hear you will never find out, will you? you already gave up any alternative or underground source of your choice and now you are told the filtered good stuff by your Master? you are good good boy.

And according to the score extremely insightful too. Maybe you even feel capable to tell everyone else what THEY NEED to hear too. good luck.

Re:What they NEED to hear!? Goebbels quotation?? (3, Funny)

Smegly (1607157) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932176)

Repeat with me... Corporations and Governments losing power to people is gooooooood.

Exactly. Todays youth have a much more balanced and informed opinion than any other time in history - now that the hierarchical control of information flow is breaking down. The ability to balance out corporate/government-MIC [wikipedia.org] propaganda that has dominated News and print media almost since its inception with alternative points of view is a very good thing. From "New Media" [wikipedia.org]

it has been the contention of scholars such as Douglas Kellner, Callum Rymer and James Bohman that new media, and particularly the Internet, provide the potential for a democratic postmodern public sphere, in which citizens can participate in well informed, non-hierarchical debate pertaining to their social structures. Contradicting these positive appraisals of the potential social impacts of new media are scholars such as Ed Herman and Robert McChesney who have suggested that the transition to new media has seen a handful of powerful transnational telecommunications corporations who achieve a level of global influence which was hitherto unimaginable.

Re:What they NEED to hear!? Goebbels quotation?? (1)

srussia (884021) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932536)

"But Corporations and Governments is people!"

I'm not worried (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30932062)

I have faith in Obama!

There's already a fine example (-1, Troll)

Mononoke (88668) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932064)

Judging from the audience for the highly personalized "news" network named Fox News, I'd say yes. Fox News tells a specific group of people exactly what they want to hear, not what needs to be known. It surprises me that they are still allowed to use the word "News" in their name.

Re:There's already a fine example (1)

hoboroadie (1726896) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932108)

I try to use opposing viewpoints to extract a fair and balanced view of current events. Haaretz/AlJazeera/BBC/VOA... curiously, FOX doesn't actually fit in with this approach.

Re:There's already a fine example (0, Troll)

Eli Gottlieb (917758) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932124)

I can see a problem with your approach... namely that Ha'aretz and al-Jazeera provide narrow regional news rather than broad coverage.

Re:There's already a fine example (1)

hoboroadie (1726896) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932268)

Those are not even the tip of the iceberg; I follow at least three dozen or so sites. The point is to even out the bias: some of the most biased ones are actually painful to read. BTW AlJazeera covers world news fairly well, not quite BBC, but as good as Reuters IMO.

Re:There's already a fine example (2, Informative)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932282)

False, Al-Jazeera (at least the English version) gives coverage to international news. And even in the Arabic version of the website I see news related to Toyota in the US, to Obama and to UK sports.

Re:FOX counterbalance (1)

hoboroadie (1726896) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932138)

...Maybe presstv.ir; They're pretty fucking far out there.

Re:There's already a fine example (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932348)

The obvious problem with your approach is sometimes people on both extremes of an argument pull their "facts" out of their ass.

The reason Fox is even less useful than most extreme information sources is that it has relatively less information. You can watch it for five minutes and figure out what the message of the day is. The only reason to watch it longer is to have it drilled into your worldview more firmly.

Re:There's already a fine example (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30932142)

So you're complaining about all the other media tailoring news to fit your silly beliefs except for Fox? Spare me.

Two Fine Examples (5, Interesting)

xzvf (924443) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932144)

I think you prove the point that people only hear what they want. MSNBC is just as biased as Fox News. CNN is trying to stay in the middle, but they are getting the same pressures to target an audience. The most popular cable news shows draw 1-3 million people daily (1% of the US population), they don't have an incentive to be balanced and general. I suspect newspapers, online and paper, magazines, etc. all have the same issues. DON'T piss off the target audience.

Re:Two Fine Examples (5, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932404)

Yet the daily show on comedy central has higher ratings and is where MORE people turn to for unbiased news.....

Frightening, that Jon Stewart is america's most honest newscaster in a lot of people's eyes. This says volumes about how worthless all the news outlets are.

Re:Two Fine Examples (5, Insightful)

2obvious4u (871996) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932462)

That is because he cuts through all sides bull shit and calls it like it is under the guise of satire; when in fact all he is doing is telling the truth that the other sources are afraid to tell because it might offend someone.

Re:Two Fine Examples (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932526)

Exactly, and it is very sad that the "serious" news companies and journalists dont have the guts to ask the hard questions.

Journalists are supposed to offend people that are hiding something.

Re:Two Fine Examples (3, Insightful)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932510)

I think you prove the point that people only hear what they want. MSNBC is just as biased as Fox News. CNN is trying to stay in the middle, but they are getting the same pressures to target an audience. The most popular cable news shows draw 1-3 million people daily (1% of the US population), they don't have an incentive to be balanced and general. I suspect newspapers, online and paper, magazines, etc. all have the same issues. DON'T piss off the target audience.

I don't know if I could call MSNBC biased the same way that Fox News is...

Certainly most of the "reporters" on MSNBC are biased... But not all in the same direction. Compare Morning Joe to Countdown with Keith Olbermann. Quite the difference of bias there.

Fox News, on the other hand, seems to have a very fixed message they're trying to deliver 24/7.

CNN, in my opinion, ceased to actually be a news network years ago. The reason it seems more neutral is because it doesn't deliver anything of substance. It's hard to work up much of a bias when all you talk about is kids floating away in balloons and which celebrity is sleeping with which.

But you are certainly right. These days people can see what they want to see. If all they want to hear about is food, or pets, or reality TV... There's probably a network out there dedicated to their tastes.

Re:There's already a fine example (3, Funny)

lena_10326 (1100441) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932152)

Still smarting over Air America.. huh? :)

Re:There's already a fine example (2, Insightful)

Mononoke (88668) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932308)

Still smarting over Air America.. huh? :)

Nope. They never had a chance anyway, as their audience doesn't need to be told what to think.

Why Single Out Fox (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30932166)

MSNBC, CNN, BBC, and all the network news do the same thing. They have a specific slant and the people that tune in to them hear what they want to hear.

Sounds like your just angry and pick out Fox because Fox News is the undisputed leader in news today, and is smoking all these lefty, old-guard stations. They're the only ones who don't slobber over Obama every day.

You just don't like their viewpoint which is fine, but don't pretend what they do is new or unique.

You just got pwned. Mod me up mods.

Re:Why Single Out Fox (3, Insightful)

Mononoke (88668) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932294)

Sounds like your just angry and pick out Fox because Fox News is the undisputed leader in news today

Thank you for so eloquently proving my point.

Re:Why Single Out Fox (1)

hoboroadie (1726896) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932542)

Strangely enough, presstv.ir has a FOX related article at the top of their front page right now. I especially enjoy their comments section, they cater to the Persian version of the same demographic of ignorant haters, and so far, none of my comments have espoused enough hate or ignorance to make it past their moderators.

Re:Why Single Out Fox (1)

10101001 10101001 (732688) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932482)

MSNBC, CNN, BBC, and all the network news do the same thing. They have a specific slant and the people that tune in to them hear what they want to hear.

Yes and no. Everyone tends to have some sort of slant, but how much they choose to reign in that slant and the extent and kind of the slant actually expressed varies. As far as news goes, I'd say things like the BBC and the Newshour on PBS both do rather good jobs of covering the news, although both express clearly British-centric and American-centric slants. Given your latter point, I think it holds true. I'm more interested, in general, to hear about American interests than, say, the local news of Mumbai, India.

Sounds like your just angry and pick out Fox because Fox News is the undisputed leader in news today, and is smoking all these lefty, old-guard stations. They're the only ones who don't slobber over Obama every day.

Actually, the interesting part about Fox News is it spends much more time focusing on sex stories than other news. This, of course, doesn't excuse CNN/MSNBC which seem to have a faux celebrity fixation. Overall, though, no news should be slobbering over any politician or critiquing policy. It's the job of news to, you know, report news. The real issue, then, is Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC aren't news networks (just MTV isn't music television); they're 10% or less news and 90% opinion or other fluff. The real answer to that, of course, is to stop watching Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC outright.

You just don't like their viewpoint which is fine, but don't pretend what they do is new or unique.

Granted. You should watch "Worldfocus" on PBS (or visit worldfocus.org) to see some strong non-America bias (note, I didn't say anti-America bias). It might give you some more perspective on where bias really lies in many news shows. There's also, of course, Iranian news to watch. If you're one of the people who watch Fox News precisely because you know where their biases lie, you'd probably love Iranian news.

You just got pwned. Mod me up mods.

So, are you more interested in oneupmanship and glory or actual discourse? Modding can be useful to filter needless cruft. But trying to "pwn" people and get a medal for it really seems pointless; if you have enough of an ego to believe you're right on an unprovable subject, why do you feel a need for validation?

Re:Why Single Out Fox (1)

tophermeyer (1573841) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932520)

Sounds like your just angry and pick out Fox because Fox News is the undisputed leader in news today, and is smoking all these lefty, old-guard stations. They're the only ones who don't slobber over Obama every day.

I think there are lots of people that would dispute that. A lot of people. Fox News may have a huge viewership, but even many of those viewers understand that Fox News is as much Political Entertainment as News. I love watching Fox News to see conservatives drooling over democrat misteps and competing with each other in an apparent "who loves our country and hates terrorists more" contest. I don't see them as a top news source, but I do see stories reported there that I would not expect to see on MSNBC (and vice versa).

I like your point about networks having specific slant. Fox has an intriguing blend of actual news and punditry; as much as they like to claim they are "fair and balanced", careful observation of their content indicates otherwise (/Captain Obvious). Fox seems very comfortable blurring the line, and their personalities are very good at it. The difference between Fox and others is the obviousness of their political leanings. Fox is very, very blunt about where their support lies. Some organizations are more subtle, but that slant still exists.

Fox is the least of the problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30932544)

For example: Where were MSNBC, NBC, CNN, ABC, and CBS when Fox exposed ACORN as the place to go if you want to set up a brothel and staff it with illegal alien underage girls? They tried REALLY hard to ignore the story. But after numerous videos were released and multiple ACORN offices exposed, they got dragged kicking and screaming into talking about a subject they were trying to bury.

CBS in particular takes the cake for their bogus Air National Guard memos. The forgery was rather obvious when you consider how few typewriters could do superscript and proportional fonts (much less Palatino before it existed) back in the 1970's. And yet they expected us to believe it. How's that workin' for ya, Dan Rather?

So on one hand, they ignore real news, and manufacture fake news when it suits them. Nobody ever accused Fox of manufacturing evidence for a story, although they have a knack for reporting with an inflammatory style.

None of this is new. Consider the JFK assassination. Look how EASILY the media was manipulated into supporting the Warren Commission report, even though there was more than enough evidence to refute it. I grew up thinking the case was settled; it consisted of Oswald being immediately captured and subsequently killed by a rogue mobster. One lone nut killed by another. Although technology has provided more clues that pretty much destroy the government's explanation, most of the obvious evidence is low tech and was available from day one. To me, the coverup and media manipulation is a bigger story than the actual event.

Perhaps Fox is #1 in ratings because they report what the government would prefer to keep under wraps. There is plenty of this material and certainly an audience willing to tune in. These will never be a shortage of government sleaze, and I don't see this pattern changing anytime soon.

What does MSNBC espouse? Hate? (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932296)

Sorry, I know is a requirement to bash Fox here, but honestly I don't see the level of hostility in any Fox commentator I see from Olberman. Let alone the absolute in the pocket attitude of Mathews who crosses over to condescending in his praise for our President.

I use Google News and Drudge for my kickoff sources. Why? Because both present headlines I know I will want to read with a little fluff somewhere else. Google because they tend to list a lot of sources which they have done much better with covering the political spectrum lately. Drudge because too many times it is the truth more than the sensation.

Still, the number of head nodding latte sipping Fox bash bunnies that infest /. is distressing but typical of a techy site where people are more willing to boast and vent than do anything. In other words, perfect little drones to the government.

Re:There's already a fine example (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932454)

What people don't understand about "Fox" news is that they're just bad at spelling. It's really "Faux News. Far unbalanced."

Who decides what's important? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30932078)

I really have to wonder what metric they use for deciding whether or not news is important. I stubbed my toe today, is that important?

The president of Monaco (.7 square miles) tried to push his/her agenda onto Canada, is that important?

Re:Who decides what's important? (5, Insightful)

elnyka (803306) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932408)

I really have to wonder what metric they use for deciding whether or not news is important. I stubbed my toe today, is that important?

The president of Monaco (.7 square miles) tried to push his/her agenda onto Canada, is that important?

Man, your education is showing. There is no president of Monaco. I know that little detail is unimportant to the argument at hand, but come *the fucking* on!

Anyways, taking your comic hypothetical scenario, it could be, depending on the agenda, which might affect, I dunno, banking or investors who own assets in your country, or what not. If you are in the habit of taking news superficially, in particular international news, with nothing more than country size, population or distance from your TiVo and super-sized McDonalds combo, of course you will be tempted to ask such a silly question (who decides what's important).

But that's a function of you, not the news. The importance of a piece of news is not a function of your perception, or anyone. It is important or it is not.

You can't measure the importance of news by their (apparent) immediate impact on your life or your impression of how important and impervious your country is to external events originating from a seemingly unimportant (and perhaps backward-looking) place in the world... like Afghanistan in 1991.

Remember that time, when no one gave a shit, when many retarded animals used to say Afgha-what-how-the-fuck-you-call that shit? That "Arab (or whatever)" place where people where towels on their heads and ride camels. Whatever, I'm so like whatever! Why should I care? Fucking SuperBowl, that's important, lemme watch Chuck Norris kick some ass, we are awesome!!!!. Remember that time?

Turn the clock to 1994 for another example... being aware of the Rwandan Genocide over following the O.J. Simpson shitfest would seem to have been a very important news to watch and be aware off, even for someone living in a little cow town in the middle of nowhere. Not because it might have a direct impact, but at least showing you have something resembling a moral compass.

But that's just me... plus the media is incredibly guilty at that:

http://www.journalismethics.ca/interviews/media_failure_in_Rwanda.htm [journalismethics.ca]

All in all, a piece of news does not have to have an immediate, tangible and direct impact in your life, your town or your country. Gross violation of human rights, international news, science news, global and regional politics, global/regional/even local historic events, those are important news. The mark of the uneducated is that he will find those boring and "non-important" compare to watching "American Idol", some dude dancing on his head on MTV or "Real Shallow Stupid Whores of Orange County."

The idea that you need to have someone decide which news are important or not is stupid. There are important news, and there are non-important news.

The perception of their importance is a function of the audience's intelligence, education, and to a degree, their moral ability to give a shit about things. Important news are important news, independently of whether people can understand their importance.

New should not be tailored to consumers (5, Interesting)

jjoelc (1589361) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932086)

As odd as it sounds, I think that news should not ever be tailored to the "consumer". Telling the people only what they want to hear is just as bad (if not worse) than only telling them the news YOU want them to hear... If I was planning on becoming a repressive regime leader, ruling my country with an iron fist... I would start by telling all of the people all the "news" they wanted to hear.... In-Depth reviews of the latest "Mycountryian Idol", all the sports news they wanted, how wonderful the newest movie blockbuster is (and who the stars are sleeping with!)

Then the populace would be too busy thinking about those silly topics to even notice or care that I had just imposed mandatory impalement sentences for jaywalkers.

Re:New should not be tailored to consumers (1)

iphinome (810750) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932130)

What? No organ banks?

Re:New should not be tailored to consumers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30932242)

If I was planning on becoming a repressive regime leader, ruling my country with an iron fist... I would start by telling all of the people all the "news" they wanted to hear.... In-Depth reviews of the latest "Mycountryian Idol", all the sports news they wanted, how wonderful the newest movie blockbuster is (and who the stars are sleeping with!)

Then the populace would be too busy thinking about those silly topics to even notice or care that I had just imposed mandatory impalement sentences for jaywalkers.

You don't think this is already happening?!? The leaders don't create it themselves because of the huge amount of man power involved, but you can be damned sure they use it exactly as you stated.

I Disagree, That's the Only Model That Works (3, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932248)

I disagree with you. I think giving people the news they want is the only way this has worked. Because who else is there in the equation to please with the news? You have the newsmakers, the government and the newsreaders. And only the last one makes sense.

Allow me to point out what is wrong with your simplified explanation. Sure, news has relied on "Mycountryian Idol" and movie reviews on slow news days or even on a site where they can present a dearth of information. However, once the jaywalking impalement law is passed, some people are going to experience a loved one being impaled for jaywalking. Now what do people want to hear news about? TV or the impalement of citizens for jaywalking? The reporters understand this and know that breaking this now ... even breaking the possibility in advance before the law is passed ... will generate higher ratings than their competitor.

This sort of capitalistic scheme for news is not without faults but your example is down right disingenuous. A single news source breaking the story of someone passing laws to impale jaywalkers would bring down their site as people rushed to read more about where and how this is happening. Despite the lack of bad things happening resulting in crap news on TV and in print, you must understand that people (at least Americans) still are very concerned with themselves and their well being above anything or anybody else.

Re:I Disagree, That's the Only Model That Works (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30932508)

The problem lies in that the GP was talking in what we call "hyperbole".

There is no data in the news.

The story about the impalement would certainly get a story about the poor old person that got killed for jaywalking. There would also be a story about the poor old person that was killed by an evil jaywalker (assuming there was a market for it-- even if there isn't they may run it just to start controversy which they can then tell you about on the news...).

In a complex issue the facts can be twisted to make up anything you like, and the news does just that to fit the news to the demographic.

Imagine instead that the law in question is a quagmire of boring politics rolled into a massive 1900 page essay of law that even intelligent people admit is a pain to read. Let's say it's about, oh I don't know, health care reform.

What intelligent information has the news brought you about the reform bill?

So far I've heard that it's socialist, will save millions of lives, will lower the quality of service costing millions of lives, will cost us a hojillion dollars, will cost less than it does now, will cost more than it does now, will go the way of social security and dissappear, will be forced on the country, can't be forced because of Brown, that Brown is Bush and therefore is evil, that Obama can't keep campaign promises, that he hasn't because of evil republican's blocking healthcare, that evil democrats want to control my freedom of choice, that people in Canada can't get higher level services because of their system, that people in Canada have worse healthcare than the US, that people in Canada have better healthcare than in the US, that England healthcare is better than Canada, that England healthcare is worse than ours, that some states have their own systems, that Nebraska won't have to pay for it...

ad infinitum.

There is no data in the news. Why should their be? The news is stereotypically "boring" and why is that? Because real news means sitting and listening to facts and weighing them in your mind. But this requires news organizations to collect a LOT of data only to appeal to a shrinking group of people who'd rather get their news from the most reliable of sources... the internet.

The news makes money by presenting facts. The more they can present using less facts, the more profitable. Better to make hours of cheap news out of a few facts than one good hour dedicated to hundreds of facts. No one seems to be able to tell the difference, and when they can, they call it "boring".

Re:New should not be tailored to consumers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30932288)

If I was planning on becoming a repressive regime leader, ruling my country with an iron fist... I would start by telling all of the people all the "news" they wanted to hear.... In-Depth reviews of the latest "Mycountryian Idol", all the sports news they wanted, how wonderful the newest movie blockbuster is (and who the stars are sleeping with!)

I think the recipe needs more bo*bs.

re:new should not be tailored to consumers (1)

ed.han (444783) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932396)

while philosophically i agree with this, i believe the "objective reporting" for which you are yearning has gone the way of the dodo.

ed

Re:New should not be tailored to consumers (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932492)

If you think about it, you are not giving people what they want, you are telling people what they want and then giving it to them. It is, in fact, the other way around: a repressive regime leader would be the last person to allow consumers choice over the news they get.

Acting on the assumption that people don't want to hear news that could topple their own local regime does nobody any good. Assuming the regime is any threat, they will have control over news outlets, so the news outlets choosing the news does more harm than good. Even if the news outlet is pure and untainted, then controlling the news and force-feeding to an unwilling public will just cause them not to listen (unless you force them yourself and turn yourself into an oppressor).

Essentially, what I'm trying to say is that this is not a matter of defence against tyranny. This is because, even though ignorance can lead to tyranny, it is not personalised news which is causing it. It is indifference that causes ignorance, and force-feeding news does little to help that.

The article reeks of elitist attitude... (1, Funny)

Sepiraph (1162995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932088)

I get my daily news of internet meme at 4chan.

Re:The article reeks of elitist attitude... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30932528)

I get my daily news of internet meme at 4chan.

You should at least get your news from several sources. I get mine from both 4chan and Slashdot. By the way, did you hear that Stephen King died? Goodnight, sweet prince.

Re:The article reeks of elitist attitude... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30932592)

I was banned from 4chan for "new faggotry", and now I can't get my meme news.

However, memes change quite slowly over time, so maybe you could post a synopsis of the last six months.

Just look at the surprise that Obama's a leftist. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30932092)

Good God, folks, he graded out as the most leftist Senator, by far.

Why the hell is anyone surprised that he's governed from the hard left?

Politicial labels are relative (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30932188)

If you're a right-winger, then yes, you will consider Obama a leftist. If you're a leftist (not a Democrat, those guys are center-right at best), no, Obama is not a leftist.
In the end though, it doesn't matter, both "rightists" and "leftists" are in the pocket of the same corporations and will essentially pass the same corporation friendly and regular people hostile laws.

Re:Politicial labels are relative (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932316)

No. Obama is a leftist. It was pretty obvious from his campaign. Although there was
some minor hope that all of his conciliatory rhetoric might have led to something
other than the mirror image of Bush II's approach to governance.

Re:Politicial labels are relative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30932410)

And this is why you shouldn't read the news in your country.
There are no leftist politicians on USA.
Read your parent Post carefully. You might learn something.

stop that nonsense (4, Insightful)

elnyka (803306) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932464)

Good God, folks, he graded out as the most leftist Senator, by far.

Why the hell is anyone surprised that he's governed from the hard left?

As a republican who voted for McCain, I gotta tell you, stop that stupid shit. Who graded him out, creationists? I don't like some of his policies (fuck I didn't even voted for him), but he's far from being a leftist.

In fact, you have no idea of what a "hard left" is. People like you whorify what it means to be to left or to the right, to the point that those labels become meaningless. They become more and more like elementary school taunting name tagging than actual classifications of ideology and policy. I got a couple of countries I can advise you to visit if you really want to take a look at what the "hard left" is really like.

Most Definitely (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30932114)

Yes! I subconsciously want to read about Tiger Woods' next affair.

Good ol' times (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30932134)

First of all, always be careful about the "good old times", and how back then everything was better.

One possibility to counter these issues would be to detach the survival of the "news"-show from ratings/views, by e.g.
-make a tax and pay for the official news with it
-make something like a tax, which everyone who has a TV has to pay (done so in Switzerland, Germany) and pay the official news with it
-find news reporters who do it for free (hey, maybe someone wants to be on TV ;) )

La-la-la... (0, Offtopic)

oDDmON oUT (231200) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932148)

...la-la-la-la-la-la-la! I can't *hear* you with my iPad plugged in!

[PS "postersubj" compression filter violates free expression]

I Particularly Enjoyed (4, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932150)

I particularly enjoyed how they ripped apart so many aspects of 'news' over the past years and coming years. From "Do bikinis cause cancer? More at 11" to automated journalism [slashdot.org] . But then somehow claim that the newsreader is ignorant for seeking news that is personalized to him or her. Maybe, just maybe, if a wide reaching non-specific news source treated their readers with respect, produced quality and engaged in more investigative journalism than "look at this picture" or "Ten worst/best" lists then we would all be reading it.

Until then, I guarantee you that people will prefer to seek specialized news sources because the editors and writers for that source are often experts and their biases are often exactly what we want. Just look at the blogs of Michael Geist and Bruce Schneier, way more preferable than any big name news site's 'computer security' division.

it's worse than ignorance (5, Insightful)

a2wflc (705508) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932156)

People discuss the controversial news on sites with other people who agree with them. And they get depth of knowledge about "their side" and get attacks, misrepresentations, and lies about "the other side". Then they often "forget" which was news, facts, or opinions and treat most of what they read on a biased site as true. It would often be better if they were ignorant on the subject.

What they need to hear? (4, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932160)

This coming from the same mainstream media that usually just regurgitates whatever the police and prosecutors allege in a criminal report? Case in point, what happened to Ryan Frederick [codemonkeyramblings.com] . Absolutely questionable and "juicy" from the beginning. At the very least, the papers should have made a scandal about why the police would be so moronic as to raid a small-time pot user 3 nights after a man with a vendetta against him burgled his home. If that isn't a public interest scandal right up there with "sex offenders are in your neighborhood," then I don't know what is because when the news poured out about what really went down, it made a lot of his community deeply uncomfortable about what the police would do to "protect them" (BTW, it gets worse, like the police using men who are active burglars to get them evidence).

Excuse me, but if Google or someone can create an active intelligent search agent which will build me a comprehensive list of public corruption news, political news, civil liberties issues, etc., then I'll be a hell of a lot more informed and less "ignorant" than I would be if I had to read a paper or magazine that caters more toward the assumption that the only thing people want to read about is celebrity news and what pretty white girl got killed after hooking up with 3 strange men in a foreign country.

Re:What they need to hear? (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932256)

You're completely missing the point. Stories like the one you describe are precisely the ones that a huge percentage of the population will simply ignore. You see it...even look for others like it...but you're outnumbered a thousand to one by people who consciously choose to pretend it never happened.

The job of a real news organization is to present newsworthy stories whether you want to see them or not.

Ignorance is bliss (1)

richtaur (1234738) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932164)

Personally I'm not just bored by regular news, I also often find it depressing. All I follow is technology news, because that's what I find interesting and what I want to occupy most of my time.

News is mostly entertainment anyway; you will hear about the *really* important stuff from friends or relatives.

Personalized news (1)

nothermark (832949) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932168)

I would say the issue is we are force fed more and more mindless drivel the reporters are interested in and less news we need. The result is we go elsewhere and they increase the drivel level. Newspaper stories have shrunk into the same soundbites as the TV so why both to read them.

Other Consequences (2, Interesting)

zeromorph (1009305) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932186)

It will affect social interaction in some way or the other, since you cannot be sure people heard something just in was in your news. This will lead to coordination problems due to the lack of common [wikipedia.org] knowledge [wikipedia.org] . (There is a nice book about culture, coordination, and common knowledge Michael Suk-Young Chwe.)

More pervasive than just news (4, Interesting)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932204)

In the US at least, knowing a lot about ANYTHING makes you a nerd, a social outcast, the non-cool guy. Ask a coworker how their boiler works, or how to change their oil. Ask them how to chainsaw a tree. Ask them how to wire a switch, or pull a shot of espresso. Most will look at you like you showed them dirty pictures - "What? Me? Do actual labor?" Combine this with the steady erosion of the effects of causality (helicopter parents, welfare system), combined with the death of Civics as a school subject, and you have population of effete, spoiled sheep, ready to accept whatever shackles are imposed, in order that they be safe and comfortable.

I suspect that 20 years ago it was the same (1)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932206)

People who choose to be ignorant are the same as they've alwas been. The big difference today is that more claim to be informed because the gossip is now labeled news.

It is easier than ever to find out about world events and local happenings. Add that there is fast access to historical information on any topic and there is no excuse not to be an informed person. A bigger problem is filtering out the relevant from the banal which is what the pros are supposed to be paid to do yet they seem to be failing and probably for the same reason as the rest of us.

 

Re:I suspect that 20 years ago it was the same (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932558)

Also, 20 years ago it was easier to claim to be informed, with who knows how many huge would-be stories not registering anywhere (hence ignorance about them would not be described as "ignorance"...as far as news are concerned, those events didn't exist), claims being harder to verify, distrubution of information reserved to very few people. Perhaps people knew more about local stuff also because there was nothing better to do then gossips.

Now...sure, majority is still uninformed. But it's easier to be informed, if you want to; and without making it into a fulltime job, so there's plenty of time for "silly things", too.

But hey, "old times were better" never gets old, right?

Another explanation (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30932210)

More and more people are starting to view news as little more than propaganda. They dont use that word of course, but people are sick of being constantly manipulated by subtly twisted information and they are starting to react to that by tuning out.

Re:Another explanation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30932504)

More and more people are starting to view news as little more than propaganda. They dont use that word of course, but people are sick of being constantly manipulated by subtly twisted information and they are starting to react to that by tuning out.

You got half of that right. People get sick when they hear news that doesn't agree with their point of view; it's called cognitive dissonance. They then tune out that particular news outlet, labeling it 'propaganda' and they shift their focus to the news that always agrees with them.

Slashdot? (1)

Gravitron 5000 (1621683) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932214)

Well slashdot is fairly personalized. You can make your own opinion about our collective ignorance.

I must say (4, Insightful)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932222)

Alot of the news in my country is a joke. Really, it's a big joke.

Politicians are like little children and are arguing and pestering eachother through the media and there's indeed the tendency to serve more news which seem to draw in more people, align with their soap-series, or magazine style "sex-facts", upskirts and what have you.

I've disconnected from "tv" because of that purpose, but now the crap is entering into my online experience and I choose to ignore it; for one it causes less frustration when "yet another important sounding headline" preaches nonsense. Or there's yet someone pushing some FUD through articles...

Important news will reach me one way or another, but I don't care about 90% in "news" these days and wont waste time being "in the loop" constantly... I would if the quality would be much much better.

Why do people choose personalized news? (3, Insightful)

wjc_25 (1686272) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932226)

I don't think it's just a matter of liking the flexibility, customization, individuality, etc. We live in a world where we're barraged with news sources; there's far more than any one person could keep up with, even if they spent most of their time worrying about it. People are overwhelmed, so they throw up their hands and stick to their little corner. It's a distinctly modern phenomenon.

Basic definition of "news" or current affairs (2, Interesting)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932586)

Information about events that affect ME.

So if there's a car crash near where I live, that (could) affect me and is therefore newsworthy. If a car crashed in a town 50 miles away, that's no longer news and I don't want to hear about it. (Presuming I'm not one of the sick puppies who gets off on gory pictures and other people's suffering). Likewise if the government is going to increase my tax burden: that's news, but on a bigger and more abstract scale.

If there's a natural disaster in a faraway place, is that news? Well, it almost certainly doesn't affect me so no. However, it is worthy of reporting (but not reveling in) as part of a duty to inform about events that shape or change the world we live in.

However, there's also current affairs: providing background information about WHY things happen, WHY decisions (that will affect me) are made, or what risks I could be exposed to in the future - including information about options or duties I may have as a result. Climate change (or the debate about it) comes into this category. It's not news per. se. but it is something worthy of informing "the public" about.

The problem is (as the OP says) we're barraged by "news" from all over the place - most of which is distributed because the source is cheap / easy or spectacular, rather than because of it's importance. Almost all of this is inconsequential and is a very good reason for filtering it out. If we don't than the stuff that matters to each one of us, individually gets lost and we become desensitised by all the bad things that are being reported, so when something significant happens that does or should affect us, we fail to appreciate what it means. That's why news should be tailored for the individual

More like a bifurcation? (1)

smchris (464899) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932228)

Boring people choose electronic media that complete their central core of boringness and others choose portals like -- well, you know.

I feel that I am _far_ more knowledgeable about current events using portals like buzzflash, crooksandliars and /. than I would be dodging the ads and cherry pie recipes in a morning newspaper. Who are we kidding to think the editorial board of your "local" newspaper isn't in bed with power?
 

I'm guilty... (2, Interesting)

bemymonkey (1244086) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932232)

Checking out my Google Reader account leaves me a bit shocked.

~300-400 articles per day, and only about 30 of those (from Reuters and BBC) are actual news. The rest is gadgets, software and other tech stuff.

Oh well, other people waste their time with Twitter, Facebook and the like.

Define "important" (1)

kikito (971480) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932236)

I read what is important for *me*, thank you.

Does reading Slashdot lead to ignorance? (2, Funny)

MojoRilla (591502) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932240)

Does reading Slashdot lead to ignorance? Nothing about the State of The Union here! Just news for nerds. If that is ignorance, give me a steaming platter!

technology brings power. with power... (1)

h00manist (800926) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932244)

... comes responsibility. of people using it, to use it as best they know, and people creating, legislating, and distributing it. i'm actually an isp and content provider in one, running a cyber cafe. want to help publish educational content for people here? no, it's not terribly profitable, games are more profitable, so we'll have to work for very little money, or publish stupid content, games and facebook, beer and porn and silly entertainment that sells, and have more users. that's how the money distribution system works, like it or not, people are rewarded for creating stupid content or punished financially for creating smart content. complaining about it has been done plenty, and changed nothing, so waste your time complaining if you want, and get nothing done. if you want something done, do it. organize some people to research or create better work compensation and recognition mechanisms, and then maybe we will stop having poor repairmen and teachers, and rich sportspeople and prostitutes and corrupt politicians.

Well duh. (1)

gzipped_tar (1151931) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932246)

Most of us employ the Internet not to seek the best information, but rather to select information that confirms our prejudices. -- Nicholas Kristof

Example: slashdot.

Same old same old (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30932272)

The boring stuff somebody else will take care off. You know its true because Americas Got talent .

Yes it does (1)

cbope (130292) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932304)

Having the news more and more "personalized" to what the consumer wants, not what the consumer needs, is essentially like inbreeding for the brain. The outcome is not going to be pleasing in the end.

It's sad that the average attention span is so short these days that many people are only interested in things interesting *to them*. Uninteresting or boring things, which may themselves be very important to society as a whole, do not even show up on the radar because they are not interesting *to them*.

Plummeting? No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30932310)

It can't be. We are awash in more information; more than any time in recorded human history.

What he means is the central channels that usually bring us issues that matter dearly to a select set of billionaires are having trouble pushing message, because of information diversity.

Take this for example;

"In the end, the broadcast networks are only as healthy as the station business, and the station business is in big trouble."

And it's not being replaced by anything? Chris is excluding (willfully perhaps) what is coming next, and he is ignoring WHY those stations are in trouble. It's because they are old, aging institutions that cater exclusively to a self-absorbed generation (Boomers) who can't see things from anywhere past their own perspective.

Anyway tl;dr things are fine. The sources of information we techies and kids are being exposed to are legitimate, despite the hand-wringing from olds.

And so the Information Wars begin.. (2, Insightful)

DiscountBorg(TM) (1262102) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932328)

Really, as soon as we got more than one TV channel with the news on it, we had the option of picking and choosing the news that causes us the least discomfort and appeals to our personal biases. The internet has of course taken this to the extreme, now we have news and information sites tailor-made to appeal to the cognitive biases of whatever demograph you fit into. You can spend your entire life on the internet as a young-earth creationist and never challenge your beliefs once. The problem of course is human nature. If you are a conspiracy theorist there is plenty of media available depending on your political spectrum, from the Obama Deception to Zeitgeist. Both examples take advantage of the ability our human brains have for associating things that may have no relation to each other at all. All you have to do is take little snippets of media, string them together into some kind of narrative complete with Scary Music (tm) and you can make up any kind of "facts" you want. I've actually heard some people on the net defend the absurdity that is Zeitgeist by claiming it is anti-propaganda, as if there is some kind of information war going on and we must fight 'bad' information with 'good' information. Nowadays I frequently run into people who believe in 2012, and they provide me with tons of videos full of 'proof' of their conjecture. I run into people who believe that Obama is not an American citizen, they likewise have tons of 'proof'. This is just the beginning of a phenomenon made possible by information customized to appeal to cognitive bias. The article above is really just the tip of the iceberg.

Easily Radicalised (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30932358)

Its a dangerous step to filter news according to what you're interested in.

One of the ways key that terrorists become radicalised is by only following news stories that support their views.

Its called a positive reinforcement cycle, and it can lead to very extreme opinions.

what could i say about.... (0)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932366)

I know there is a joke in here somewhere about /., i just have to find it, .....wait for it......wait for it.....
Nah.....i'm getting nothing!

I get my personalized news on Faux News Channel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30932480)

It tells me everything I want to hear and only what I want to hear.

Are you saying this makes me ignorant???

Real news aggregation (1)

Lord Grey (463613) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932502)

Face it: Every news outlet filters and edits, so what you see or hear is at the very least a subset of the reported item. Even if a news outlet just regurgitates a syndicated column or wire report, someone did the original filtering and editing.

Every journalist spin a story a different way. Whether to sensationalize it, make it fit a more conservative or liberal viewpoint, or even just to make a printed story fit into a certain column length or a video fit into a certain time segment. We never hear the whole story from a single news outlet.

What I want is an aggregation of viewpoints. For a given issue, I want to read the just-the-facts story, the liberal newspaper's story, and the version that appeared in Hey, I'm a Wacko, Too monthly. Ideally, some magical technology will gather all those different versions and sift the contents, remove the duplicated stuff (even opinions!), then present me with a single chunk of news to digest. Properly annotated, of course, so I know which news outlet reported what. Even Fox News' stuff could be included, for hilarity if nothing else.

To be truly informed about the "important issue" I would need to see all the angles. I can do what I described above myself, manually, but it takes so much time that I usually don't bother unless the issue is truly important to me. So yes, I want my "personalized news" and I think it would better than what I see now.

What's the point? (1)

GuerreroDelInterfaz (922857) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932560)

I don't like sports, I don't like gossip, I don't like "faits divers", I don't like political squabbling. I don't care for most mainstream media "news".

Thus I'm ignorant because I don't care about this crap? So be it.

I need the time for the stuff I like and care about. For instance science, technology, entertainment, computing, bikes, etc. And all the stuff mainstream media usually don't report due to their political allegiance and political correctness. I'll leave to the "gurus" like the one who pontified about this the job to know all the mainstream media junk if that's so important for them.

--
El Guerrero del Interfaz

Yeah, I can see that... (1)

ErichTheRed (39327) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932562)

...you can make that argument for other things, not just current events. Once you start limiting people's exposure to things outside of their interest, it closes their mind off. Ask your average World of Warcraft addict about anything other than World of Warcraft, and they'll say they have a guild meeting to go to or that you're interrupting their grinding. I'm a technology nut, but even I know when to get off the computer and keep an eye on what's going on around me.

The problem is that feeding someone a steady diet of personalized content means that eventually they stop seeing other points of view. For example, I'm a left-leaning person, but I occasionally listen to the conservative talking heads screaming about what's going on. It may be comic relief for me, but at least I'm informed. Anyone who isn't becomes more and more entrenched in their belief system. Your average conservative hears nothing but Fox News, the conservative talk show crowd and the Tea Party Movement people, and refuses to believe that anyone else has a better idea. It's the same kind of groupthink that goes on in poorly-managed companies. I may think the conservative side of the house has things totally backwards, as I'm sure they think I do. But, I have both sides...once you start homing in on people's interests, their interests become narrower because of the lack of exposure.

I get all my news from The Onion (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932574)

Once you strip out the sensationalism, you frequently find that there is a basis from a story which is not in mainstream media. Sources are scarce, of course, but once you have a basic grasp of the issue you can usually find some blogs or local news which covers the issues being discussed.

IMHO, the biggest issue is people are too used to having opinions spoon-fed to them through the idiot box, and have forgotten where the good sources of reliable information are.

I've noticed I do this (1)

Thyamine (531612) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932584)

I realize now and then that I'm doing that.. reading only tech sites and the like. I'll try and hit a more general news site like CNN or the BBC and try and see what else is going on in the world, even if I'm not all that interested just so people don't say 'Oh hey, that's terrible about Haiti' and I turn around to say 'What? What's going on?'. It's easier with print media since the 'important' things are right there on the front page, but when you tailor your news sites around one or two topics, you can't help but miss other important events in the world.

Just what is it that I "need" to know? (1)

flajann (658201) | more than 4 years ago | (#30932594)

I have a big issue with the notion of someone else deciding what I "need to know". That's my decision to make, and now I have the power of choice, thanks to the Internet. I can pull from the BBC news, Asian Times, and a number of other sources around the world to get a real balance of what is going on that is not wholly dependent on one news organization's -- or even one country's -- biases.

Lately, Haiti has been in the news, and for good reason. The problem I have is that I think Haiti is over-reported. Every major news site pounces on the same bit of news I've already read elsewhere, and they are of course dropping other news I might be a bit more interested in. When every news outlet everywhere ALL decide I "need to know" news X, that's a personal affront.

And more importantly, someone is deciding what it is I "DON'T need to know". That's even worse, because if they choose not to publish it, I can't make the choice for myself. But that's the beauty of "citizen journalism" -- that coverage is unfiltered and raw, and I can get to it before some editor decides to drop it unto the floor. Case in point: The G20 summit in Pittsburgh and how the police there attacked the University of Pittsburgh students [pittsburghpolice.net] . There were lots of videos uploaded to YouTube about what was really happening in the streets -- a lot that I never saw on the major news outlets like CNN and FOX. Students that had nothing to do with the protests were being gassed, tasered, and chased around their own campus. You'd think that should've gotten a lot of attention by the news as something we need to know. Nope.

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