truth

A New Normal

Have you ever heard the phrase “defining deviancy downward”?   In the early 90’s, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan sparked controversy by using this phrase to address what he and others believed was a devolution of our socio-cultural standards.  Essentially, Moynihan suggested that we were allowing behaviors previously defined as “deviant” to become accepted as “normal” behavior.  He suggested that American society was beginning to accept what was previously unacceptable.  In a May 23rd video, Robert Reich describes various facets of contemporary instances of what he sees as defining deviancy downward, a devolution that is occurring right before our eyes.

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As always, this seekingGood blog encourages you to think for yourself.  Better yet, do some research to expand your knowledge of this issue of devolving values.  Perhaps you do not agree with these ideas at all.  Especially if you do agree, you might want to take a look at a dissenting view which appeared in a 1994 edition of Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture.


Robert Reich is an American political commentator, professor, and author. He served in the administrations of Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter and was Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1997. If you find this video interesting, you might want to check out Professor Reich’s YouTube channel for frequent videos of this kind, posted under the name ResistancE is FertilE.


NOTE: This video was originally posted on YouTube on May 23rd, 2017. Mr. Reich makes references to what were then “current” events.

 

Monitoring News Bias

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You want to know the “truth”, right?  As such, surely you spread your reading across news sources of varying political perspectives, right?  One can only hope your quest for truth is, indeed a quest and not self-administered salve to soothe intra-psychic fears about your future and the future well-being of those you hold dear.  “Truth” is larger than that.

Should you venture into the wild, attempting to get differing perspectives on current events, how can you know if what you are reading is valid?  If understanding the political leaning of any given site is important to you, check out Media Bias / Fact Check.  (MBFC), a news outlet evaluation site which describes itself as the following:

  • Media Bias/Fact Check (MBFC News) is an independent online media outlet. MBFC News is dedicated to educating the public on media bias and deceptive news practices.
  • MBFC News’ aim is to inspire action and a rejection of overtly biased media. We want to return to an era of straight forward news reporting.
  • Funding for MBFC News comes from site advertising, individual donors, and the pockets of our bias checkers.
  • MBFC News follows a strict methodology for determining the biases of sources. Dave Van Zandt is the primary editor for sources. He is assisted by a collective of volunteers who assist in research for many sources listed on these pages.
  • MBFC News also provides occasional fact checks, original articles on media bias and breaking/important news stories, especially as it relates to USA politics.

Just type in the name of any site you are interested in and see what MBFC has to say about it.  Try searching for sites you know.  Try “The Guardian”, “Reuters” or “Breitbart”.  You can also get a list of many outlets that MBFC classifies together – Right-Bias, Pro-Science, Left-Center-Bias, etc. (nine categories in all, including “Conspiracy-Pseudoscience”).   Of particular interest is the category which MBFC considered the Least Biased.  You will notice that these MBFC lists are quite long as they included media outlet from all over the world (ever considered getting your news from the Bangkok Post?).

One of the advantages of MBFC is its employment of differing evaluation criteria during its daily analysis of various news outlets.  For instance, MBFC analyses a site’s relative factual reporting as one criterion.  This criterion focuses on whether the information presented by the site is verifiable.  However, a different criterion considers whether a site presents “biased” stories, which is not the same as accusing the site of “false” reporting. A site might present actual facts, but presents those facts couched in a slanted presentation, presumably with the attempt to sway the interpretation and opinion of readers of those facts.  Such bias can be seen in the use of loaded words, the choice of which stories to tell, what details to reveal and which to omit, for instance, all of which skew the whole truth of the situation.  Comparing even these criteria–and there are others–can be helpful for identifying the nature of the proposed “truth” being presented.  Perhaps MBFC’s greatest value is that the site presents many listings which provide direct links to outlets you might not have heard of (and might find quite informative).

The Media Bias / Fact Check site could be quite useful for anyone, regardless of socio-political orientation.  Give it a look.  You might learn something.

 

Expand your horizon and your mind! 
Read something you do NOT believe and see what happens!


DISCLAIMER: The seekingGood blog does not necessarily endorse the MBFC site except as a possible help in the evaluation of media sources.  As always, do your own research and think for yourself.

A New Form of Journalism?


[DISCLAIMER] Always seeking “truth” and the means to reliably find it, we are pushing the follow-up to “Locally Green” (scheduled for this week), to a later date.  Instead, check out this interesting development in the field of news reporting. Obviously, this early in the process, we cannot endorse this organization, but it is, at least worth a look.

With the power of online transparency, together we can beat fake news.
~Jimmy Wales

Introducing Wikitribune

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Jimmy Wales (founder of Wikipedia) has just this week initiated a new journalism platform called “Wikitribune”.  Like Wikipedia, “Wikitribune is a news platform that brings journalists and a community of volunteers together. We want to make sure that you read fact-based articles that have a real impact in both local and global events. And that stories can be easily verified and improved.”

Seeking to “fix” the news, Wikitribune is attempting to bring control of the dissemination of factual information back to the community.  Mr. Wales suggests that “social media, where most people get their news these days, is literally designed to show us what we want to see, to confirm our bias.”  This trend “fundamentally breaks the news”.  Wikitribune is being launched to help correct this problem.

The principles are simple.

Articles must be fact based with named sources:  “Supporting Wikitribune means ensuring that journalists only write articles based on facts that they can verify…that you can see their sources. “

Ad-free content is free for all readers:  Wikitribune will present no pay walls, giving all people open access to all content.  Furthermore, the site will be completely ad-free, permitting no corporate influence to shape the nature of the information presented.

The community and hired journalists are equal… “Articles are authored, fact-checked, wikitribune community.PNGand verified by professional journalists and community members working side by side as equals, and supported not primarily by advertisers, but by readers who care about good journalism enough to become monthly supporters.”

…with full financial transparency:  Promising no compromise regarding financial influence, Wikitribune has plans to operate and publish its financials regularly.  The staff journalists will be paid by subscription revenue—which is to say, by us.

This noble endeavor has only just begun. However, as  Fortune magazine points out, this is not the first time such an idea has been proposed.  These previous efforts did not meet with much success.   Some critics question the possible success of Wikitribune.  And yet, Jimmy Wales faced similar criticism during the launch of Wikipedia.  We can see how that turned out.

Wikitribune is a good idea that needs our support.  If you are one to jump feet first into the possible, donate now.  If you are more of a wait-n-seer, take a look at the site, do some research about the project, and consider subscribing once they have reached their startup goals. Most of all, once Wikitribune is up and running, you might want to use the site as one of your news gathering tools.


Background articles:


For more information, contact: info@wikitribune.com

An Interview with Noam Chomsky

Chomsky-DemocracyNow

In a 70-minute Democracy Now! interview with linguist and political theorist Noam Chomsky, Mr. Chomsky addresses a wide range of topics, including the current U.S. presidential administration’s tactics, healthcare, Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election, as well as issues related to North Korea, China, Syria, and Israel.

Mr. Chomsky offers what, for some, will seem startling statements regarding the rise of neo-liberalism during the late 70’s.  While the term “liberalism” often connotes “openness” and “freedom”, the interests of advocates of neo-liberalism (perhaps better referred to as laissez-faire economic liberalism) come into conflict with the very notion of democracy—that is, free participation of the general public in its own governance.

On many social issues, proponents of this form of liberalism might be at odds with what many might call right wing or conservative.  However, these neo-liberal factions began to see open democracy as “out of control”, posing a “threat” to the achievement of a neo-liberal agenda.  According to Mr. Chomsky, these socio-political elements called for stronger indoctrination in neo-liberal ideas through educational institutions, a more heavy handed control of mass media and the overall pacification of the general public.

Along the way, Mr. Chomsky also touches on topics such as (1) why Americans are led to believe Iran poses the greatest threat to world peace while world opinion sees the U.S. as the true threat, (2) the surprising increase in mortality among white Americans (particularly men, due to diseases of despair), and (3) the disparity between actual U.S. governmental policies and the well-being of middle and lower income portions of the American electorate.

Agree with him or not, as always, Mr. Chomsky offers interesting and provocative ideas worth considering.


Noam Chomsky is a US political theorist and activist, and institute professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). For decades, Mr. Chomsky has remained a staunch critic of American foreign policy, the neo-liberal advocacy of globalism, the empire-building hegemony of the United States and the manufacture of public consensus by the so-called mainstream media (MSM).

Noam Chomsky’s website

The full collection of Mr. Chomsky’s appearances on DemocracyNow!

Objectivity, Neutrality and Truth

Trust in “news” as well as other sources of “truth” is a developing topic here at seekingGood.  When does conviction stand in the way of objectivity, or does it? Can it be that not taking a stand endangers objectivity, rendering us complicit in a lie?  When does a habit of normalizing acquiescence result in notions of “truth” we might abhor under other circumstances?  Sound complicated?  It is. (If nuance is your cup of tea, here is a story for you).

Lewis Wallace, a former journalist for Marketplace, attempted to draw attention to these issues—and was fired.  The first video presents a brief overview of Mr. Wallace’s situation.

lewis-wallace(Photo: Facebook)

This second video presents a more in-depth description, as well as Mr. Wallace reading the blog post that created the stir.

objectivity-is-dead

We should all ponder the pitfalls of neutrality as we attempt to find Good in this new Public Space of contemporary life.  Want more on these issues of media reliability?  Explore these stories.