Here's a great comment, amended to a great article about the future (death) of the newspaper, on the topic of objectivity in journalism:
In reading this wonderful essay, I'm drawn to the words of Chris Lasch, who wrote in his landmark essay, The Lost Art of Political Argument, that the creation of so-called "objective" journalism wasn't at all about the journalism but about the business.
Responsibility came to be equated with the avoidance of controversy, because advertisers were willing to pay for it. Some advertisers were also willing to pay for sensationalism, though on the whole they preferred a respectable readership to sheer numbers. What they clearly did not prefer was "opinion" -- not because they were impressed with (Walter) Lippmann's philosophical arguments, but because opinionated reporting did not guarantee the right audience. No doubt they also hoped that an aura of objectivity, the hallmark of responsible journalism, would rub off on the advertisements that surrounded increasingly slender columns of print.
This essay -- originally published in Harper's Magazine in the September 1990 issue -- was one of the cornerstones of my current thinking. If you can find a copy of it, it is very helpful in understanding the current state of journalism.
RIAA based lost sales on "Units Shipped" NOT cd sold to customer.
RIAA lost sales = record stores hold less stock.
Nielsen ratings based on actual sales = sales are up.
=> RIAA deliberaately misleading everyone and courts.
2=> File Swapping has led to increase in sales. &=> "Lower Sales" only top 100. Add in non RIAA, non "chart" music sales, long tail sales.
Lies, Damns Lies, Statitics & Supreme Perjury.
If the entertainment studios had their way, every time a format changed, you'd have to buy all your records all over again. In their ideal world, we would hold restricted licenses to our content, not ownership. Digital rights management would cripple our all-powerful computers, creating backups would be impossible, and the basic human impulse to share the wealth of information that helps define who we are would be beset with obstacles. This is not paranoia. At every step of the way, intellectual-property-right holders have resisted technological innovations that give ordinary people more scope to enjoy and consume music, television, movies or any other content.
That's why MGM vs. Grokster is so important. The deeper we get into the digital age, the more we will be defined not by our relationships with physical objects but with the data that we have accumulated in our journeys through life. If we lose the right to own that data and do what we want with it, if the power of the computer, and the Net, is taken from us, we're at risk of losing a lot more than a few files -- we stand at risk of losing the evidence that tells us who we are.
Here is a rather disturbing account of how broadcasters used their powerful lobby to subvert the public interest (yeah, I know, what else is new? But read on, this is a story well told. It is, after all, our spectrum).
How HDTV killed firefighters, birthed the Broadcast Flag, and screwed America: Cory Doctorow:
This long, excellent article on the history of broadcast spectrum allocation in America is the single best explanation of the mess that we're in today. In short: greedy broadcasters tricked Congress into giving them free spectrum for a second set of digital channels, so that Americans who bought digital TVs would have something to watch. Then they did nothing with them. Meantime, cops and firefighters and EMTs are (literally) dying for some of that squat-upon spectrum so that they can coordinate their rescue efforts. Remember how everyone rhapsodized about how postmodern it was that the World Trade Center rescuers used cellphones and Blackberries to stay in touch? It wasn't because the private sector's phones are designed by smarter people than the emergency-squads'. It's because there's no spectrum available to emergency workers because the broadcasters (now largely owned by or affiliated with movie studios and cable companies) have stolen it all from the American public.
This stuff was used as the justification for the Broadcast Flag, too -- spectrum allocation is practically the root of all evil in America, when you get right down to it.
From the beginning, the key combatant has been the National Association of Broadcasters, which organized itself into a lobby in the 1920s, even before the Federal Communications Commission was formed in 1934. For more than 75 years, the NAB has been fighting to help the broadcasting industry hold on to its slice of the spectrum -- the frequencies TV and radio stations use for their broadcasts -- in the face of demands from competing technologies and rival industries, and even public safety concerns.
In the 1980s, when the FCC appeared ready to reallocate some of the spectrum for public safety, the NAB persuaded Congress to block the commission and hold off the change because, the broadcasters said, they needed the spectrum to develop high-definition television. Yet soon thereafter, the broadcasters abandoned HDTV, and it nearly died
As today's New York Times reports, no country has done more to free itself of proprietary software than Brazil. Free, open source, software means Brazil will be able to give computer access to even its poorest citizens. It also means the Brazilian people are training themselves to create and maintain their own information infrastructure, rather than becoming totally dependent on Microsoft.
In perhaps the most disturbing case I've seen yet of the misuse of patent law, Groklaw reports on a literally life threatening extension of IP:
The issue stems from a case that involves a patent granted by the U.S. Patent Office on diagnosing B12 or folic acid deficiency, which can cause serious human illnesses such as cancer and vascular disease, simply by knowing if a patient has an elevated homocysteine level. It is a matter of natural biology that whether someone has a B12 or folic acid insufficiency is related to whether they have a high level of homocysteine, because homocysteine is an amino acid metabolized by B12 and folic acid. Lower courts ruled that doctors who use or discuss the relationship between B12 or folic acid and homocysteine committed illegal patent infringement and the Supreme Court is now deciding whether to hear an appeal of the case.
Another pointless distraction: A Flash site that plays, and transcribes, the evil messages that are audible when certain songs are played backwards. Most of you are too young to remember when we actually did this with the vinyl albums on our (abused) turntables. But Britney?! Did anyone ever actually own Britney on vinyl!?
As business blogging becomes more widespread, two main approaches have
emerged. There are bottom up bloggers and top-down bloggers - and then
there are a scant few companies who are in between. Each approach is
Bottom-up blogging can either start organically or with an edict or
blessing of the corporation. Famous bottom-up blogging corporations
include Microsoft and Sun.
Basically, this is blogging at its best. It's real employees dishing
out the straight dope from the bowels of a corporation. It's
unfiltered, fun and, for many, incredibly risky. However, when done
right, bottom-up blogging can change a corporation.
The majority of blogging companies, however, fall into the top-down camp. They devise a blogging strategy with input from execs,
communicators, marketers, HR, etc. They deliberately determine who will
blog for the company on what subjects at what time and in what place.
Famous top-down blogging companies include most major media companies, GM and Cisco.
In the middle are the blogging equivalent of hybrid cars - companies
that take a top-down approach but yet also already have or plan to
encourage bottom-up blogging. The most notable example here is Yahoo!
They have a terrific corporate blog that clearly is a strategic communications tool developed with guidance from Voce Communications. At the same time, however, they have a well-known bottom-up blogger in Jeremy Zawodny.
This week I have been on the road quite a bit pitching several big
companies on blogging programs. As I think about what I am working on,
most of it is top-down blogging. Ideally, I would love to get to a
place where I am working on hybrid projects where we coach a select
group of individuals to blog as part of a strategy but also figure out
how to leverage individuals in the company who are already using the
blogosphere to express their voice.
Given that very few companies are blogging, there probably are not that
many firms who can be hybrids. Still, I do think hybrid
blogging has perhaps the greatest PR potential. However, there's an art
to it. Advisers need to carefully mix organic blogging with stimulated
blogging into a powerful communications cocktail without over mixing the
drink. Still, I think all of these strategies have a place. What's your view?