Posted by: lee E. | October 28, 2012

When Media Meets Crowds of Dummies

According to Muthukumaraswamy’s When the Media Meet Crowds of Wisdom, a disadvantage of crowdsourcing “is the unreliability of the news obtained…However, such projects are transparent in what they deliver because the audience is aware of what it is getting.” (p. 51)

This assertion comes in stark contrast to the premise of Whitaker and Baxter’s winning formula in Lepore’s The Lie Factory, where “Never explain anything” is key to swaying public opinion.

Lepore quotes Nixon adviser William Gavin to say “Voters are basically lazy…uninterested in making an effort to understand…Reason pushes the viewer back…impression can envelop him…without making an intellectual demand.”

With this in mind,  I think Muthukumaraswamy is overly optimistic in assuming that the average viewer has the energy (or training) to filter its information (Note the May survey that found that viewers who consume ZERO news are better informed than those who watch FOX).   Likewise, I think Muthukumaraswamy is being naive when she worries solely that amateur reporters “are not sufficiently trained in rules that govern traditional media.” (p.59)  Not only are they not “trained,” but in today’s climate they also have nothing to lose (and are, to the contrary, commonly rewarded) by spouting nonsense.

How, in this age, do we normalize a source that the average viewer can trust to be reliably neutral?  And if people are as stupid as campaigns rely on them to be, why in the world do we want them “reporting” anything (except maybe gas prices (when the tank is on “E”)) to us?

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Responses

  1. Check out Slate’s new article about Twitter and misinformation regarding Superstorm Sandy:
    Dear Twitter, Don’t Believe Everything You Hear on a Police Scanner


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