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Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Age Of Unenlightenment (3)

The Age of Guess-timation:

USA Today

On Boston bombing, media are wrong - again
Rem Rieder, USA TODAY9:55 a.m. EDT April 19, 2013

 ...the beleaguered cable news pioneer was in the midst of making yet another high-profile mistake: reporting that an arrest had been made in the Boston Marathon bombing.
CNN had company: the Associated Press, Fox and the Boston Herald, among others, also went with the rapidly discredited story.
Once again, four months after the error-riddled reporting on the massacre at Sandy Hill Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., there was a major media malfunction in the coverage of a mega-story.

...Sadly, these mistakes seem to go with the territory. Think of the morning of 9/11, when there were reports of a car bomb at the State Department and an explosion on Capitol Hill. Neither took place. Or Sandy Hook, with the killer was misidentified, to cite one of many media swings and misses.

... News outlets also received some journalistic wisdom form an unlikely source: the FBI. As it knocked down the arrest story Wednesday, the bureau noted that reporters had gotten a number of things wrong by relying on "unofficial sources." It suggested, "Since these stories often have unintended consequences, we ask the media, particularly at this early stage of the investigation, to exercise caution and attempt to verify information through appropriate official channels before reporting."
The CNN follies inspired humorist Andy Borowitz to write, " 'After monitoring every minute of CNN's broadcast since Monday, we have found hearsay, rumors, falsehoods, and a steady stream of inane commentary,' " one authority said. "'Everything but information.' 

The New York Post...  has done a particularly wretched job covering the Boston massacre. It reported Monday that 12 people had died in the Boston bombing, four times as many as the actual total. Today, its front page features a photo of two men who might — might — have had something to do with the heinous crime.
The Post reported later Thursday, without apology or further explanation, that the two had been cleared by authorities. Even for the Post, this is pretty outrageous. The paper was pilloried on social media, and rightly so.
This situation is exactly that of Orwell's 1984; the only difference is the motivation does not seem to be a deliberate desire to change the historical record, nor is the process under the control of an authoritarian government. The outcomes are the same.

The outcomes are, first, an unreliable stream of information, and second, an establishment of a historically rootless populace that possesses no abilities of critical thought; critical thought requires that something endures and does not change with the speed of a Tweet.

What would the situation be if the perpetrators had not yet been identified?
More inane comments? More identification of the wrong people as criminals?
Panic in the streets, essentially...


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