Saturday, October 20, 2007

listening to kcrw's 'left, right & center' from last week, they mentioned how reactionary the blogosphere is. this reminded me of a great article i read in wired magazine, from the early nineties, by a guy named paul saffo. he mentioned that the whole idea of objectivity in the press was born from newspaper publishers. wanting to increase readership they tried to print news that would appeal to everyone without pissing off anyone. in other words, there should be no point of view. no real assertion that this is what a journalist thinks the truth is; even though things might appear differently. now, there is an objectivity that we should aspire to and that is that we should, on a personal level, aspire to remove any bias or predjudice, anything that will cloud our judgement as we look for the truth of a situation. but after doing this to the best of our ability, ultimately, we must make a call. we must put all the information together and say, "this is what i think is going on". that means not always presenting both sides of a given issue equally. i constantly hear reports that misrepresent the facts of a situation by presenting both sides. when you present both sides, it implies that the issue is split. if the headline reads, "human beings do not jump into the shark tank at sea world" then at a point in the article you bring in a representative from an organization that like to jump into shark tanks, then we will infer that some folks like to do it and some dont; like some like chocolate and others like vanilla. the vast majority of human beings might feel one way but that important fact is lost in the 'even' reporting.

so all this safe lack of opinion, lack of point of view, created a void that blogging could step in and fill. if we err on the side of having an opinion and being fuzzy on background then so be it. if you want to check the facts of a story you hear or read, you have the internet. meanwhile we are going to have a point of view. im not sure about mr. saffos take on 19th century journalism, i havent done my own fact checking. in fact this whole post may be just plain wrong. but this is what i think is going on. conversation begins with a point of view. this is the truth we need to begin. if i am wrong you will tell me. blog on.

19 comments:

C. Brian said...

EA,

If I recall, you or one of your musical associates was fond of quoting Voltaire back in the day:

"I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."

Sounds as if you are saying that bias, perspective, opinion is unavoidable; so, then, let's put it all out on the table?

Make an point. Follow the laws of logic. Use facts and evidence. Render a verdict (even a tentative one).

George D said...

Al Jazeera does that, on there news shows if tehre is an issue they have a debate with both sides of the story and then after that it leaves u to draw your own conclussions, i think that whatever it is, everyone has there own point of view, human beings, all 6.7 or whatever billion of us will never one day universaly be on the same page about a subject.

If tehre was a question of whether ants are aliens there will always be one idiot saying they are. Probably a membor of ants are aliens society or something silly.

I like the motto of keep it to yourself. Although some opinions are worth fighting for. Holocaust anyone?

But you will enevr get straight news or journalism, things are too tied in with money and etc. Rupert Murdoch is a perfect example of a douche.

Still cant wait till help wanted!

Anonymous said...

Eric,

I hope you and your wife are safe from the wildfires in CA right now...It just makes me sick when I see this devastation....

S

tikkuria said...

Interesting post. I don't live in the US, but I guess the situation can be extrapolated.

There are a number of serious issues here (political, financial, etc.) that get no coverage at all in the usual media (big newspapers, TV, etc.) which are only covered in blogs and forums. It is difficult to believe at first, and amazing to see the kind of meaningless bullshit they fill their media with in order to divert attention from the real issues.

Even if people are biased and uninformed in the net (and some are downright crazy), you get access to very interesting pieces of information on crucial issues that you can then investigate further.

And this situation, which makes me happy now, also makes me wonder how much longer we will enjoy a free internet. Big fish are already sueing bloggers just for posting links to news items or opinions, or for posts that visitors leave. Legally, it makes little sense, but money still rules...

matt volpe said...

Hi Eric,

First off, I sincerely hope you and Belle are safe from the devastation going on out there, my best to you and yours at this time.

Secondly, I think life is too short to not have unbiased opinion and to not be strong with conviction in one's belief of something. Enough with being politically correct all the time. I feel people should say what they believe (of course I think with a measure of respect and said tactfullness.
Be well and all the best, Matt

Anonymous said...

I think objectivity is an ideal, but in reality it's a farce. The best that can be said is that people are less or more objective.

Agendas and goals play an intricate role in journalism as with everything else, but I think it's dangerous to reduce the problem to newspaper editors exclusively.

As for shit written, we are lucky that simply by employing the "math" of logic, we can immediately deduce whether what the author is saying is indeed an argument, a mere claim, or an explanation of a fact. Truth is either there or it's not (knowledge is another matter entirely). Hysteria, reactionary impulses, sentimental emoting, and the like are just persuasive literary accesories called rhetoric, and they too can be either helpful or detrimental to the thesis, or simply irritation or inspiring....

All in all, I will take a publication like The Economist, which without shame calls itself "advocacy journalism', but informs with a well roundedness that is an excellent departure point for more research.

Finally, I think the real danger in the internet and to remain consistent, blogs, is that they have rendered the idea of confirmation as obsolete. The people I speak with use Wiki and other resources that are never verified, except by the tacit approval of those who don't care to revise. Yes, the uncomfortable truth is that when you buy a hardcover book you have to pay money for it. The good news is that chances are good that you had an excellent editor who was bound by intellectual ethics to VERIFY information. That is well worth the price of admission.

Be well,

SR

tikkuria said...

To SR:

I wholeheartedly agree with you on the issue of confirmation.

However - in my opinion - there are now two opposing trends: blogs/forums where info gets increasingly verified and/or referenced, and - sadly - paper publications with increasingly poor translations, grammar revisions and verification. When business is at stake, many sacrifice quality as the first option to cut costs down.

Anonymous said...

Tikkuria,

Noted, I shouldn't raise the bound pages to the sacred, but there are publishers, editors, and authors that can be trusted. When the major publishers in NY are estimating tat only 10% of people will be reading hard cover materials in the very near future there is will inevitably be cutbacks in the area of academics. This is the most frightening consequence of the internet by far for me.

Gotta know where to look for current publications on contemporary issues and art I suppose.

Translations are difficult too, bt the vast majority of translated materials I read have already been translated and edited many times over, so there is consensus on the superior efforts. Some just don't translate well like German (especially philosophy).

Best,

SR

Anonymous said...

There is a half decent movie called 'ZEITGEIST' which briefly mentions the media...and many other interesting things. I liked it. I think many of you would too...

http://zeitgeistmovie.com/

Anonymous said...

testing testing, one, two, three... just checking if my post reaches its destination. if so I will be happy to comment on your ponderings lateron. best wishes eric

Anonymous said...

Eric, get out your vcr, or dvr. "Vampire Secrets" is on tonight, at 8 pm eastern. hopefully it will show it out there. Anyways, the song is midway through the program. Hopefuly, you will view this before it airs. hope all is well,
Vol

Maybe I'll dvr it, copy it to a tape, and send it to you?

Anonymous said...

Eric, haha, just saw it again, "vampire secrets." Spooky, ha!
Definately your song, "Gimme." Interestingly enough, perhaps coincidental, perhaps from a fan of yours, but the song is played during the "Rod Ferrell segment."

Anyway, my friend, I'll be more than happy to make you a copy and mail it to you. Let me know. If you dont want to pursue it, that's cool too. But, I'd like to hear their reaction.

vol

Anonymous said...

eric what type of workouts do you do to get yer abs??

STR

KJS said...

I think that objectivity is extremely important in journalism. I ususally don't read newspaper articles unless they are syndicated by the Associated Press. I think keeping with the stylebook guidelines is the only way to present a clear picture of what is really going on.

People always want to tell each other their points of view, I think that is important for discussion, but raw facts should come first.

I do find it interesting that some very unprofessional journalists will sneak in their points of view by finding people to quote that agree with said journalist's point of view. It's very cheap, but I suppose it happens a lot. In particular it's happened way too much over the last 8 years.

It's nice we can use blogs to talk about this problem. We may be quiet, but we're not silenced.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Eric. I read somewhere that Ritual was recorded digitally. Is this true? If so, I gotta find what you guys used cuz today's A/D D/A converters pale in comparison. Listening to Three Days I'd say there is no way it's digital.

andy said...

hi eric,

off topic and random but i went to a halloween tribute concert in boston the other night, with elliott smith, jeff buckley and the velvet underground playing..

velvets opened with sunday morning, you woulda loved it! the whole place was echoing so loudly with the distortion, ..heroin and all tmrws parties was really unbelievable.

Anonymous said...

Truth is more like liquid than rock. One person believes God spoke to them when the person next to them think they are nuts. One persons’ truth is that Woman X is a hottie while the next person thinks she is ugly. Who is correct? One person can find their truth in a fellowship while the next person just sees a cult. On and on.

Eric, you mentioned in the previous post about your wife telling someone the truth as opposed to something they want to hear. This resonated with me because due to my wife having to be my side for the past 11 years, I am able to see how much my personal truth has shifted, evolved, been forced to adapt, etc. Truth changes. Truth is tethered to coping mechanisms.

Fox news speaks “the” truth to its loyalists. Those who know what Fox’s mission is see a much different and dangerous truth. Control the words, definitions and you control truth. Is it true water boarding is no longer torture? To some this is true. People who have been strapped to one have a different truth.

I was in LA this weekend. That city takes me to the extremes (of truth) almost with each breath. LA is both heaven and hell. Like observing a woman who looks beautiful from one angle, then when you look from a slightly different angle she turns into a hag. I believe in both truths.

Maybe if we were taught to simultaneously process seemingly conflicting moral concepts, truth wouldn’t be so one sided. Instead truth is simplified as good vs. evil, us vs. them, everything black and white, which is not the colorful world I see before me at this moment.

So which inner voice do you hear, God’s or your own? Will this change over time? How do you identify it when it is God’s will/truth vs. your own? A lot of people believe that when something happens good it is god’s will and when they mess up it was their own will. Ridiculous. If we cannot decipher our own internal dialogue how do we expect to identify a communal truth? We can’t. Because when we circle around the truth there will be those stuck with the hag view. Coping mechanisms will create a more suitable truth.

The truth has changed severely in conservative circles. Back in the 40’s conservative leaders used to condemn Tommy Dorsey as a Devil playing the Devil’s music. Nowadays Ted Loin Cloth Nugent is an official spokesman for the conservative movement. This to me is funny as could be. It goes to show that progressives are clearly winning the battle for truth, despite what they are doing to the constitution. Can you imagine Ted playing a show for the conservatives back in Dorsey’s day? Ha Ha!

I hope my truth wins. Before I change my mind.

With respect and kindness,
Mike

-ea. said...

mike- great post. i think truth or reality has taken some real hits lately. i do think we tend to get a little too forgiving and inclusive in our desire to appreciate everyones 'version' of the truth. not all truths are created equal. just ask the 'heavens gate' followers. oh wait, we cant. their souls are currently on the other side of the sun in a spaceship with jesus.

jc said...

It takes real courage to have your own opinion. How could one mortal person have the audacity to believe that one could create
their own personal viewpoint...

What vile narcissism, an opinion!

It just like an asshole,(almost) everybody's got one, and they all stink!

Opinion and Truth will always wrestle with each other in the end.

There will always be 3 truths to every story;

1. The Perceived Truth- Commonly accepted by the general public/people on the street, etc.

2. The In The Know Truth- The bullshit "insider truth" that is many times just another layer of garbage.

3. The Real Truth- Hopefully, you'll know it when you see it!

(sorry, just got a prop. 215 card. I'm a little "medicated" right now!)