How views enhances the news…

Here on Slugger, we do a reasonable mix of blogging on sheer factual analysis, and comment. Chris, Fair Deal and Turgon have all produced useful and insightful analysis from their own various points of view on the Dromore byelection. Pete’s more detached style often throws light on detail that might otherwise be missed by the mainstream. Timeliness of news is important too, but as Julia Hobsbaum will argue in a speech in New York today (the extract on Comment is Free gives Slugger a mention) it is beginning to become a commodity:

News is narrated in real time, which a century ago meant by boat or telephone and now means by nanosecond. Yet news has become steadily devalued in almost direct proportion to its proliferation. News operations are scaled for continuity first, with accuracy often (obviously not always) a casualty of time and resource. The rush to “get the story out” matters most.

That doesn’t mean that the base facts are not important, they just aren’t the frame for the story. Yet over at Brassneck, there’s a lively discussion going on about crime at the moment, which makes it clear that even government statistics are suspect. As Onora O’Neill pointed out in her much respected 2002 Reith Lecture:

How can we tell which claims, counter-claims, reports and supposed facts are trustworthy when so much information swirls around us?.. Supposed sources proliferate, leaving many of us unsure where and whether there is adequate evidence for or against contested claims

Hobsbaum usefully quotes another sage of the past, which absolutely goes to the heart of what distinguishes useful comment from public hectoring from American columnist Walter Lippmann observed in 1922 in his book Public Opinion:

“News and truth are not the same thing, and must be clearly distinguished. The function of news is to signalise an event, the function of truth is to bring to light the hidden facts, to set them in relation with each other, and make a picture of reality.”

Shades of Kapuscinski?

  • Mark McGregor

    widely credited with accelerating the closing of one of Europe’s ugliest troubles

    *snigger*

    And all you got was a pair of silk pyjamas. Nobel Peace prize, Mick don’t need no stinkin’ peace prize.

  • joeCanuck

    You’re too modest, Mick. That was more than a “mention”.

  • joeCanuck

    Hearst used to send his journalists out to create the news on slow days. We see a lot of that in the checkout magazines “reporting” on the “stars/luvvies”.
    Do any of our tabloids follow that practice today?
    (Non-libellous answers only).

  • wild turkey

    Joe C

    don’t know about tabloids (do they still have the National Enquirer at checkout counters in the states?) but blogs have made their impact. Most recent example relevant to Norn Ironland is Guido Fawkes taking credit for Hain’s scalp. (see below)

    On January 29, 2007 Guido threw Hain’s leadership campaign into disarray by revealing his campaign strategy and supporters. It led to chaos in Hain4Labour. The leak meant that nobody in the campaign trusted anybody.

    In May 2007 Guido revealed the Hain4Labour campaign budget and that sleazy lobbyist Steve Morgan was arranging the financing.

    On the morning of December 3, 2007 Guido chased down an undeclared donor and talked to Hain’s Special Adviser Joe Carberry to ask about missing undeclared donations. That afternoon Hain went to see the Electoral Commission.

    On January 8 this year Guido revealed the links between campaign donors and endorsements from Hain.

  • Greenflag

    “News and truth are not the same thing, and must be clearly distinguished. The function of news is to signalise an event, the function of truth is to bring to light the hidden facts, to set them in relation with each other, and make a picture of reality.”

    In Soviet Russia the function of ‘truth’ (Pravda )was very often NOT to bring to light the hidden facts .

    In the present USA- Fox News among others -comes close to aping Pravda.

    Here’s the SOT reference from Julia Hobsbaum 🙂 Take another well deserved bow -Mick & team:)

    ‘In Northern Ireland, at a critical point in the peace process, Mick Fealty, an Irish academic, began a blog called Slugger O’Toole to tell the news and views coming out of Northern Ireland that were simply not getting through in the mainstream media. People began to share information online in a way that is widely credited with accelerating the closing of one of Europe’s ugliest troubles, and Slugger O’Toole remains vital in Northern Ireland politics and media today precisely because it shares not just news but views too.

    I know that the views expressed on Slugger a while back re ‘Repartition’ would have never been given an airing on any of the established media . Here at least the issue was aired from all sides pro and con 🙂 There have been other issues or topics which have also been given an airing that I’m sure make people think a little more widely about the issues than what they might read in an editorial or hear on the 6 o’clock news .

    On a more general note the role of political blogger sites will be seen to it’s greatest political effect in the upcoming American Presidential election . This has already had an effect on how candidates raise money and formulate strategy . Politicians including NI politicians who ignore internet ‘political dialogue’ of the calibre of SOT and others will lose out IMO.

  • [aside]

    “The Junior Minister last night confirmed to the News Letter that he tops the list of claimants.

    The figures are expected to show that Mr Paisley Jnr will claim £32,000 in public money for rent and rates on two offices – one in Ballymena, which he shares with Ian Paisley Snr, and one in Bushmills (#9) – by the end of the current financial year.”

    Would this be the same 142A that used to have a DUP logo but which for many years has a Bushmills Community Advice Centre logo?

    “142A Main Street
    BUSHMILLS
    BT57 8QE

    LPS Property Reference: 499457

    £0.00 Total NAV £1,250.00 Total Non Exempt NAV

    OT (Other): DO (Private Dwelling): IN (Industrial): EX (Exempt): FT (Freight Transport): SR (Sports And Recreational):
    £0.00 £0.00 £0.00 £1,250.00 £0.00 £0.00”

    Another administrative hiccup?

  • lostyand

  • A little bit more on the apparently rates exempt 142A Main Street office in Bushmills that the DUP is using for political purposes – Ian Paisley jnr and David McAllister – this time from the VLA 4th Revaluation:

    “Select No. Description Occupier NAV Total Exempt

    add 142A Off Bushmills Community Advice Centre

    £0.00 £850.00

    A few years ago Moyle DC rates were about £3 in the pound so the exemption for the users of the office would have been over £2500.

  • Thomas

    Good news