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Monday, Apr 10, 2006

It might not mean much to Net nerd but this is pretty important business: Republicans defeat Net neutrality proposal.  What it means that the days of a free and open Internet are slowly drawing to a close.

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Monday, Apr 10, 2006

So the messiah-in-chief- wants to bring on the rapture? How else to understand the discussions of possible preemptive nuclear strikes against Iran, to make sure they never have the capability for preemptive nuclear strikes, because they would be evil and murderous. (Of course America’s nuclear bombs dropped on non-Christians could never be considered anything but righteous.) The nightmare of this adminstration of madmen, fools, incompetents and kleptocrats has no limits.

Anyway, Digby makes all the necessary outraged points about this in this item, and links, chillingly, to an account of Operation Northwoods in the update. That was a plan devised in the early 1960s to depose Castro by railing public opinion for a strike against his regime. This was to be accomplished by “flase flag” operations, where terrorist acts against America are instigated by America itself, operating through espionage and infiltrators into actual fledgling anti-American groups. These acts become the undeniable causes for war. (Think Gulf of Tonkin, or Reichstag fire, but even more devious and calculated.) This may seem like tinfoil-hat territory but think about it and look into the dead soulless eyes of Rumsfeld or Cheney or any of the administration stooges sent out to deliver their sermons on the Fox propaganda channel—would you put it past these people?

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Monday, Apr 10, 2006
by PopMatters Staff

PopMatters Sponsor
video: “Dakota (live)” [real]
multiple songs: [MySpace]

Stereophonics new album Live From Dakota, out April 18th, is a two-disc compilation featuring 20 tracks spanning all five of the bands albums and captures the best of their 2005 world tour.

Santa Dog
“Chemical” [MP3]
“Rosa” [MP3]

Gus Black
“Certain Kind of Light” [MP3]

Field Music
“I’m Tired” [MP3]
“You Can Decide” [MP3]

Carina Round
“Ready to Confess” [MP3]

The Czars
“Paint the Moon” [MP3]

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Sunday, Apr 9, 2006

Two New York Magazine articles caught my eye, both dealing with old format/media vs. new.

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Friday, Apr 7, 2006

Everyone thinks the media is biased—too liberal if you are a conservative, and vice versa. This is because a neutral presentation of events is impossible—a slant is always built into what is reported what is left out, what is emphasized, what is glossed over, and so on. So measuring bias against some measure of objectivity is als impossible, because no one can decide what objectivity would be what it would have looked like—this is the kind of thing Derrida’s philosophy was out to demonstate—the lack of a stable transcendent objectivity, a Reality with a capital R that can be used to stabilize meanings. He (and Lacan, et al) argued that meaning was always in flux, being determined by establishing provisional relationships between slippery, ungrounded things—aligning signifiers into sequence with the chain of them itself allowing them to mean anything at all. One can always find the dubious propositions that must be accepted as Reality without proof in order to ground any allegedly objective account of things and show that they are not beyond question at all—that’s the essence of deconstructive criticism.

So the idea that media bias might be assessed without recourse to objectivity is welcome. In this Slate piece media critic Jack Shafer summarizes the argument recently propounded by University of Chicago economists University of Chicago scholars Matthew Gentzkow and Jesse M. Shapiro.

“1) If a media outlet cares about its reputation for accuracy, it will be reluctant to report anything that counters the audiences’ existing beliefs because such stories will tend to erode the company’s standing. Newspapers and news programs have a visible incentive to ‘distort information to make it conform with consumers’ prior beliefs.’

2) The media can’t satisfy their audiences by merely reporting what their audience wants to hear. If alternative sources of information prove that a news organization has distorted the news, the organization will suffer a loss of reputation, and hence of profit. The authors predict more bias in stories where the outcomes aren’t realized for some time (foreign war reporting, for example) and less bias where the outcomes are immediately apparent (a weather forecast or a sports score). Indeed, almost nobody accuses the New York Times or Fox News Channel of slanting their weather reports.

3) Less bias occurs when competition produces a healthy tension between a news organization’s desire to conform to audience expectations and maintaining its reputation.”

This economic approach starts from the basic principle that information is a commodity whose price (its truth value) varies by the degree to which it is demanded. Demand is a matter of pre-exisitng audience expectation, and truth a matter of conforming to those expectations. Bias is an expression of the media consumer not getting what he’s expecting when he’s paying in time, money or attention. News is commercialized; there is no news outside of that fact—no ideal, Real news that precedes its commercialization and dissemination. (Maybe in the Habermasian dream of the informed public sphere there was noncommercialized news; but it seems as though the concept developed with the development of a commercial, profit-driven media.)

I doubt proposition 3 holds, though, that competition corrects the bias of pleasing existing audiences. Reputation for objectivity is insignificant, for the reasons alrady discussed. Reputation is a matter of maintaining a certain ideological perspoective and showing the flexibility to fit facts to that framework.

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