Plato’s Allegory of the Cave

In The Republic, Plato uses an extended metaphor involving prisoners who can see nothing but shadows projected on the cavern wall. They know only blurry outlines of the true objects represented by the shadows, and they pride themselves on how well they can memorize and relate to the puppet shows performed by their captors. If anyone from the outside world were to come down to them and describe color, sunlight,…

Privacy and reporting on personal lives

Interesting guidelines, phrased as suggestions and best practices rather than rules, from a project designed to help bloggers and independent journalists — and professional organizations too — develop their own codes of ethics. Celebrities know a loss of privacy is a cost of fame. Politicians and other public servants know their power brings public scrutiny, and they carry that awareness into many of the decisions they make. That doesn’t mean, however,…

Traditional Reporters and Data-driven Analysts Both Underestimated Trump’s Chances

A data-driven news outlet that gave Trump a 3-in-10 chance of winning the electoral college analyzes its own failure, and the failure of organizations that looked at the same data and gave Trump a 1-in-100 chance of victory. The article also explores the backpedaling of traditional journalists who had confidently predicted a Clinton win. Too late for me to read this tonight, but I’ll save it for my new class…

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Are we spreading fake news about fake news?

In a new research paper that Poynter says will be published tomorrow by the National Bureau of Economic Research, Hunt Allcott of New York University and Matthew Gentzkow of Stanford University conclude that “fake news” (propaganda presented as facts and designed to control, rather than satire) is not likely to have had an impact on the US presidential election. I am prepping for my first day of classes tomorrow, so I…

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An open letter to Trump from the US press corps

This is the message I’ve been waiting for. Perfect reading assignment to start off my journalism class next week. Blunt, insightful, scrappy, professional. No whining, finger-pointing, or distractions. We will set higher standards for ourselves than ever before. We credit you with highlighting serious and widespread distrust in the media across the political spectrum. Your campaign tapped into that, and it was a bracing wake-up call for us. We have to…

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Lie to Me: Fiction in the Post-Truth Era

I’m trying to remember what it was like, a few months ago when I was thinking about picking “fake news” as the topic for a media course, when I was briefly worried I wouldn’t be able to find enough background reading on the issue. I’m no longer worried about that. (I am, however, a lot more worried about fake news.) The problem with our “post-truth” politics is that a large…

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Contemptible and Exploitive “Share if You’re Not Ashamed of Me” Facebook Scams

Outline: Various Facebook posts that feature photographs of young people with disabilities beg you to share to prove that you are not ashamed of the pictured youngsters. Other versions claim that nobody likes the people depicted in the images because they are disabled and, therefore, nobody will share their posts. Brief Analysis: The posts are the work of callous and contemptible Facebook users that are simply trying to garner attention and promote themselves…