So I’m over at Wired reading an article about Newsy, an up and coming news website/service thingy. They assemble video clips of coverage on a single issue from multiple sources so people can see how the issue was reported differently on different news outlets.
This, my friends, is cool. People, including me, need to have their certainty messed with regularly.
Then I got to this part:
Newsy […] does a fine enough job of presenting competing viewpoints from global news sources in a condensed video format. But it’s content to stop there, shying away from the next logical step of analyzing these competing viewpoints to figure out which one is the most accurate, the way FactCheck.org does.
Another piece of the puzzle, to be developed with some of the new funding, will be ranking system where the crowd votes up and down which of the news sources are closest to getting it right.
I’m sorry, WTF? Double WTF? WTF with a side of are you high? How the hell does the crowd have a clue who got it right? Popularity and correctness are not the same thing.
I headed over to Newsy to learn more. This is how Newsy describes what they do on their About page:
By monitoring the world’s new coverage, we provide immediate analysis of news perspectives so you can form your own opinion. You’ll find it an informative and a convenient resource that you will want to check daily. We will not change the news, but we will change your view of it. Global access to multiple perspectives helps provide the real story.
On the page called Story Selection, it says this:
We work together to research, write and edit our stories, paying close attention to providing our audience with unique perspectives and analysis of the differences in coverage. Our stories are written by a diverse team of people with many voices working together to create a unique final product.
Oh, the underwhelm.
What do you get when you combine teensy clips from news broadcasts with a “host” who describes for you what angles each media outlet is concentrating on while reporting on the topic?
Nothing. Absolutely nothing. If it’s an event you’re unfamiliar with, you get barely enough information to even know what happened, let alone make any sense of the micro-coverage that follows. Even if one could make the argument that juxtaposing different coverage of the same topic is analysis in and of itself, which I would dispute, Newsy seems to fail miserably at even that.
Part of the problem with today’s journalism is an overreliance on the “they said this, the other people said the opposite” form of reporting where no attempt is made to weigh both claims and arrive at a conclusion – even on something that is empirically verifiable. Newsy is like the MTV version of that syndrome.
Seriously, take a look and tell me if I got it all wrong. Does a Newsy clip offer you anything in the form of information, analysis, or exposure to a range of perspectives?