cynicism, journalism, politics

Politico and the slow, agonizing death of journalism

Those of you who think the issues in political journalism are simply about “bias” should really read this: The New Republic gives Politico’s editors enough rope with which to hang themselves, getting no apologies whatsoever for focusing on day-to-day crap. The best summary is this statement/question, for which the editors give a lame “oh, the market will correct itself” response:

If Washington, on a given day, is caught up in total nonsense, is there real value in covering total nonsense? If you give nonsense a microphone, that might lead to more nonsense. If you are a politician and you get covered for saying outrageous things, there is some incentive to say more outrageous things.

via John F. Harris & Jim VandeHei Interview: Talking to Politicos Editors | New Republic.

cynicism, web

Want to get famous? Sue The Oatmeal!

It’s an old story:

1. Lawyer reviews Aggregation Site, finds that Creative Site has complained about Aggregation Site’s copyright infringement.

2. Lawyer demands Creative Site send Aggregation Site $20,000, or else we’ll all to court.

3. Creative Site tells lawyer to stuff it, deciding instead that he’s going to raise $20,000 for charity. He ends up raising 10-11 times that much.

4. Lawyer sues Creative Site, not on behalf of Aggregation Site but on his own accord, claiming “cyber-vandalism.”

5. Entire Internet convulses with laughter.

6. Lawyer drops suit. (Ars Technica | TechCrunch)

7. Lawyer claims victory, saying he’s now famous. (By that standard, Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton worked extremely hard to gain their places in the public eye.)

There was a hint of Lawyer Charles Carreon’s strategy in this Washington Post blog post June 18: “Carreon tells Comic Riffs one of his goals is to become the go-to attorney for people who feel they have been cyber-vandalized or similarly wronged on the Internet.”

As we’ve seen in the media, it doesn’t matter if 98% of the people who know your name think ill of you. As long as the other 2% give you money.

So should we mention that Carreon’s site includes a questionable framing of the Mercury News site?

cynicism, journalism

Skepticism, cynicism and journalism

One of my pet topics came up today, so it’s good time to review a couple of definitions as they apply to journalism:

Skepticism: Hmmm, that sounds like something I should check out.

Cynicism: No way, dude. You’re a liar. 

For a more academic take, check out the definitive book Spiral of Cynicism (yes, that’s my review on the bottom from 11 years ago).

The stereotype of journalists is that we’re cynical. And a lot of us live down to that. 

Our goal should be skepticism

Under no circumstances can a journalist assume someone is lying. Because then you make an ass out of and me.

cynicism, journalism, politics

More information /= more facts?

Your Monday morning downer from fellow Dukie (grad school, anyway) Brendan Nyhan:

“In journalism, in health [and] in education we tend to take the attitude that more information is better, and so there’s been an assumption that if we put the correct information out there, the facts will prevail,” Nyhan says. “Unfortunately, that’s not always true.”

via The Death Of Facts In An Age Of ‘Truthiness’ : NPR.

creativity, cynicism

The 7 Stupidest Things That Make People Proud |

One of these days, I’m going to get a “DOWN WITH CYNICISM!” bumper sticker. Because I’m that guy.

But Cracked has explained why “cynical” and “mature” are actually opposites:

As you grow into an adult, you find out it’s not a simple two-step process of positive illusion then negative reality, but more like the Frogurt routine from The Simpsons. When you’re a kid, you think owning a puppy will be all sunshine and roses. Then as you get older and take responsibility, you realize it’s a lot of poop and barking. But then, after a while, you find out all the poop and barking doesn’t matter when he loves you just the same no matter what stupid mistakes you’ve made. Then you realize you didn’t know how much it would hurt when you lost him. Then you get a free Frogurt from the vet. But then the Frogurt contains potassium benzoate.

(That’s bad.)

There is no final answer. Observant, curious people keep finding out more and more about everything in life, both good and bad, because life is fucking complex. The person who stops at stage 2, decides they’ve figured out “the real story” and stops looking has their curiosity stunted at adolescence.

via The 7 Stupidest Things That Make People Proud |

comedy, cynicism, philosophy

Cracked’s logical fallacies and why we argue

Cue Palin (not that one) and Cleese:

An argument is an intellectual process. Contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of anything the other person says.

It is NOT!

It is!

Not at all!

As a philosophy major who basically stunk at philosophy classes other than logic, I’ve often wanted to round up common fallacies and ridiculous argument tactics that have proliferated in the Web/Twitter/Facebook era., the startlingly intellectual offspring of a magazine that long was to Mad magazine what Mad TV was to Saturday Night Live, compiled such a list:

5 Logical Fallacies That Make You Wrong More Than You Think |

Naturally, it’s imperfect.

For one thing, fallacies are usually mistakes in logic. Most of the five “fallacies” listed here simply tell us why human beings are incapable of admitting they’re wrong. That may explain why they take a giant misguided leap in logic, but it doesn’t describe the leap in logic itself.

That’s nit-picky, though. The bigger problem is that it’s horribly cynical.

Yes, it’s still somewhat accurate. But the optimists among us have to think it’s too generalized. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be optimists, would we? (There! Refute that argument!)

And it’s also too relativist. We don’t all share the same predilection toward intellectual dishonesty. Some people are truly open-minded and willing to concede a bit of ground. Some people have made peace with the idea that lying is a good way to further their political aims.

It’s still a great read. It’s a reminder of traits that most of us share at least to some extent. And we need to fight them within ourselves. They’re really difficult to beat out of others.