In what way do you see the reliability of traditional mass-media and so-called personal media as being different?
MY RESPONSE (Originally posted on 07/10/2015):
My view is that the reliability of the traditional mass-media is generally more trustworthy than that of personal media.
Mass-media online sources generally employ qualified journalists and other staff. They have lawyers to represent them if bias or public slander has been alleged, which one would hope would make their fact-checking more thorough in order to avoid defamation. They also have media standards to abide by (even though this has been questioned more than a few times by programs like the ABC’s Media Watch, and ABC Radio National’s The Media Report). Their online presences will, more likely, look more professional than sites containing one’s personal media.
If I were to question the reliability of the traditional mass-media outlets, it would be because of the media landscape’s domination by major players like the Murdoch empire and Fairfax. Smaller, independent news sources tend to be drowned out by such mass-media in Australia. Murdoch’s publications, in particular, have been accused of bias and blatantly expressing preferences for political parties in Australia, for example.
Technically, the reliability of personal media would be more questionable, as these media are usually run by one or a few individuals, which may or may not have an agenda, or lack of qualifications and objectivity. It’s a generalisation, but personal media may not reveal or give attribution to their sources of information, rely on hearsay or base their contentions on their personal world views which can provide an unbalanced account or opinion to their audiences.
Research has shown that “…studies of blog users found blogs were judged as more credible than other online and traditional news sources because they were perceived as a viable alternative to corporate-controlled media” (Johnson & Kaye, 2004a, 2006, 2007, 2009; Johnson et al., 2007; Kaye & Johnson, 2004b; Kim, 2006; Reynolds, 2004, as cited in Kaye & Johnson, 2011, p. 240). This finding implies that we all assess reliability differently when looking at information on the web. It can be a very subjective process.
As a former librarian, I can confidently state that I will trust the reliability of all online media, traditional mass-media and personal, as long as the information they present can be verified. I will not, as some others might, blindly accept that anything I find on the internet is true because it has a professional appearance, and merely looks trustworthy.
As for personal media such as blogs, which contains much opinion and information on a wide array of topics, I will enjoy reading and generally accept for entertainment purposes. But again, if an individual blogger’s facts cannot be verified by other authoritative sources, I will not make references to such information unless it was needed to highlight an inaccuracy in some of the public’s thinking about an issue.
Kaye, B. K., & Johnson, T. J. (2011). Hot Diggity Blog: A Cluster Analysis Examining Motivations and Other Factors for Why People Judge Different Types of Blogs as Credible. Mass Communication & Society, 14(2), 236-263. doi: 10.1080/15205431003687280
Your view tends to be an unpopular one – that blogs are less reliable than traditional media, there tends to be more suspicion around traditional media with blogs framed as ‘interventionist’ and truthful in the face of institutional lies – why do you think this is?
MY 2ND REPONSE (Today):
Yes, I see what you mean. I answered the question as a librarian – as I mentioned, I always verify my information sources. However, I also stated in the last three paragraphs, in a round-a-bout way, that I am willing to accept a lot of information that is to be found on personal media. I apologise, I should have teased that out a bit more.
I use and access all kinds of personal media, blogs included. As one that accepts the left-wing side of politics, I will usually accept alternate views on things – they are the lenses through which I look through a lot of the time. You referred to them as interventionist – I totally agree with that feature and would also include activist and progressive as words to describe them, depending on the purpose they serve.
Even so, I cannot get out of the habit of fact-checking the publications, blogs and online media I tend to refer to the most. If something can be questioned, no matter where its source, I will do so. I like to think that I can serve myself, or others, as a more factual repository of information than one who can be blind-sided and found to be short on said facts. It’s a bad/good habit that librarians tend to possess… we can be obsessive about information, where it’s sourced from and whether or not it’s true – I suppose I’m not the average kind of netizen in that regard (<—see? showing my age and subjectivity there too… LOL).
I also tend to be suspicious of the traditional media – I will take what they print and publish with a HUGE grain of salt. If such a source must be used, I will check, check and check again whether or not it’s true. But, I do find that when I particularly feel strongly about an error, or find blatant promotion of propaganda abundant, I will take to the opinion boards on a variety of online media, as well as writing official letters/emails to the publication/blog in question and to ministers and senators if it goes that high up in terms of lies and the perpetual promulgation of them in the media.
Finally, to answer your question… who do I think this happens?
The nature of how we live in today’s world is one reason. We are inundated by information and we tend not to have the time to get a handle on it. When we are interested in something for study, for news, for general information, we want it quickly, we want it yesterday. This is a feature that was explored in the Rowse (2008) reading, which provided this advice when blogging:
The perils of presenting text on the computer screen are, by now, fairly well established. Readers have little patience for electronic text, blogs included. They are far more likely to skim through your post – pausing for a moment here and there to read a snippet of text that catches their eye – than to read it straight through from start to finish. (para. 11)
I’m sure that we all do this at regular stages when we read information online and understandably so. But, I will take the time to read things more carefully, when it is required (e.g. when I have to absorb the details of a pdf I downloaded for further study in order to write an essay).
But we do, as societies who glean information from online sources, see so many lies and questionable “facts” in the traditional media outlets, we either don’t read them, read the facts that align with our own world views, or completely disengage and escape from reality in our own, individual ways.
The ultimate answer to your question can be highly individualised. The less individualised it is, though, the more my concern grows. Like the information inundation, we are exposed to an inordinate amount of advertising and distractions online. I believe we think we’re all very different, but I am of the opinion that we are becoming more homogenised as technology develops. I have referred to Eli Pariser (2011) in another post. I will also refer to Siva Vaidhyanathan (2011) as another example of the examination of this phenomena. They are but two, of many writers that explore how this can occur without people even realising that it’s happening.
L, this is a whole other discussion/debate/essay/thesis in itself! If the quote I provided above is true, I’m sure the others are skimming through my post, or I’ve lost the ones who attempted to read my entire response to you! LOL
Pariser, E. (2011). The Filter Bubble: How the New Personalised Web Is Changing What We Read and How We Think. New York: Penguin Books.
Rowse, D. (2008, October 7). Nine Signs of an Effective Blog Post [Blog message]. Retrieved from the Problogger website: http://www.problogger.net/archives/2008/07/10/nine-signs-of-an-effective-blog-post/
Vaidhyanathan, S. (2011). The Googlization of everything : (and why we should worry) (Updated ed.). Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press.