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Current Topic: Media

Google Press Center: Zeitgeist
Topic: Media 5:34 pm EST, Dec 20, 2005

It turns out that looking at the aggregation of billions of search queries people type into Google reveals something about our curiosity, our thirst for news, and perhaps even our desires. Considering all that has occurred in 2005, we thought it would be interesting to study just a few of the significant events, and names that make this a memorable year. (We’ll leave it to the historians to determine which ones are lasting and which ephemeral.) We hope you enjoy this selective view of our collective year.

Google's Zeitgeist reports are always interesting, but I also always feel like they could do more. Google is sitting on top of one of the most amazing collections of information mankind has ever assembled, and has all the metrics on people's usage of it. If all the various TV outlets ranging from CNN to VH1 can assemble "year in review" programs every year that go into the year's events in such depth, Google can do better than this.

Google Press Center: Zeitgeist

Study: Wikipedia as accurate as Britannica | CNET
Topic: Media 4:11 pm EST, Dec 18, 2005

Wikipedia is about as good a source of accurate information as Britannica, the venerable standard-bearer of facts about the world around us, according to a study published this week in the journal Nature.

For its study, Nature chose articles from both sites in a wide range of topics and sent them to what it called "relevant" field experts for peer review. The experts then compared the competing articles--one from each site on a given topic--side by side, but were not told which article came from which site. Nature got back 42 usable reviews from its field of experts.

In the end, the journal found just eight serious errors, such as general misunderstandings of vital concepts, in the articles. Of those, four came from each site. They did, however, discover a series of factual errors, omissions or misleading statements. All told, Wikipedia had 162 such problems, while Britannica had 123.

That averages out to 2.92 mistakes per article for Britannica and 3.86 for Wikipedia.

It's not exactly the scientific peer review of Nature, but Penny Arcade also published a comic with an amusing take on WikiPedia's accuracy situation.

Study: Wikipedia as accurate as Britannica | CNET - All The News That's Fun To Print
Topic: Media 12:29 am EST, Dec 13, 2005

This site has been getting attention on the real news this weekend. HappyNews is for people who prefer to look at the world through rose colored glasses. Only happy things. Good things. Upbeat things. There is a "unhappy news alert" banner over the stocks. The weather listings always show you some place where the weather is nice. There is only one horoscope.

By selectively picking (and editing) stories off the AP wire, HappyNews presents only the happy side of things. Instead of reading about government pressure on the cable companies to eliminate "raunchy programming", you can hear about how the cable companies are becoming more family friendly. There is a story on the upcoming Iraq vote, which is a whole four sentences. There is an editorial about how things are better now than in the past, in general. And of course, the current hard hitting headline story about Michelle Kwan.

In short, this site is completely useless. However, it is good to know about so when someone says that the news media focuses on bad news, you can point out definitively that if they only focused on good news, it would be vapid and useless. - All The News That's Fun To Print

Wikipedia prankster confesses
Topic: Media 9:56 pm EST, Dec 11, 2005

It started as a joke and ended up as a shot heard round the Internet, with the joker quitting his job and Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, suffering a blow to its credibility.

A man in Nashville, Tenn., has admitted that, in trying to shock a colleague with a joke, he put false information into a Wikipedia entry about John Seigenthaler Sr., a former editor of The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville.

Brian Chase, 38, who until Friday was an operations manager at a small delivery company, told Seigenthaler he had written the material suggesting Seigenthaler had been involved in the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy.

Chase wrote: "I am truly sorry to have offended you, sir. Whatever fame comes to me from this will be ill-gotten indeed."

Seigenthaler said he "was not after a pound of flesh" and would not take Chase to court.

Chase resigned because, he said, he did not want to cause problems for his company. Seigenthaler urged Chase's boss to rehire him, but Chase said this had not happened.

Seigenthaler, founder of the First Amendment Center, said that as a longtime advocate of free speech, he found it awkward to be tracking down someone who had exercised that right. "I still believe in free expression," he said. "What I want is accountability."

Wikipedia prankster confesses | Murdoch predicts gloomy future for press
Topic: Media 3:55 pm EST, Nov 24, 2005

But Mr Murdoch denies he has been forced into "panic buying" internet companies because of falling ad revenues. At a conference last month, the WPP group chief executive, Sir Martin Sorrell, accused Mr Murdoch of buying web operations "willy nilly".

"There's no panic, and there was certainly no overpayment," he says. "It was a very careful strategy to go for the two biggest community sites for people under 30. If you take the number of page views in the US, we are the third biggest presence on the internet already.

"Now we're not the most profitable, or anything like it; we have a huge amount of work ahead to get that whole thing right. And we're working very hard to keep improving.

"News Corp began its $1bn new media spending spree in July when it bought parent company Intermix. | Murdoch predicts gloomy future for press

Dick Cheney, CNN, Matt Drudge, and the mysterious X
Topic: Media 12:46 am EST, Nov 22, 2005

CNN was airing Vice President Dick Cheney's speech live from the American Enterprise Institute in Washington -- when a large black 'X' repeatedly flashed over the vice president's face!

The 'X' over Cheney's face appeared each time less than a second, creating an odd subliminal effect.

As this DRUDGE REPORT screen capture reveals, while one 'X' flashed over Cheney's face CNN ran a headline at the bottom of its screen: "CHENEY: I DO NOT BELIEVE IT IS WRONG TO CRITICIZE."

One top White House source expressed concern about what was aired over CNN. "Is someone in Atlanta trying to tell us something?"

Something was on the fritz with CNN's mind control equipment during Vice President Dick Cheney's speech at the American Enterprise Institute. For a short time, viewers were able to see messages normally only visible to people with the glasses from They Live.

A CNN official gave this response to the matter via TVNewser:

"Upon seeing this unfortunate but very brief graphic, CNN senior management immediately investigated. We concluded this was a technological malfunction not an issue of operator error. A portion of the switcher experienced a momentary glitch. We obviously regret that it happened and are working on the equipment to ensure it is not repeated."

"Put the glasses ON!!!"

Dick Cheney, CNN, Matt Drudge, and the mysterious X

The World According to CNN
Topic: Media 3:20 pm EST, Nov  9, 2005

This is some beautiful stuff someone captured. Apparently someone at CNN trying to put together a map of the areas of France not currently in flames and bursting with rioters managed to really screw up using Google Maps.

Check it out, it's almost like a public school student's attempt at making their own map of a country they know nothing about.

The World According to CNN

New York Times subscription wall has created vaccum?
Topic: Media 6:38 am EDT, Oct  9, 2005

I've been incredibly curious about the dominance of New York Times editorial contributors and their columns being listed in the Technorati Top 10. This has been the trend ever since reading editorials on has become a premium service.

That's and easy one to explain. Since the NYT has put up the subscription wall, people are looking for commentary on the columns that are no longer accessible to them. No one is willing to pay for access to a very small number of people, even if one of them is Thomas Friedman. Web 2.0 type people should take note this.

Another interesting aside: "Bush Defrocked" is printed on the nytimes homepage... but the article (and headline) itself does not include the phrase "Bush Defrocked."

Leery here... not tryingn to spark some controversy involving the Times... that would just be, ahem, unheard of!

That may explain something. There is a Frank Rich column that has "Defrocked" in its title and "Bush" in its body. That would imply there is a significant number of people searching for commentary on that column. It's about the Miers nomination, so that may be plausible. Almost...

It's still very strange that this search term came up at the same time as "Impeach Bush" went away. The top search term manipulation issue is still a concern. That type of thing is very dangerous, regardless of what ideology its used to push forward.

If anything, its a wake-up call for the New York Times. People clearly want access to content they have, but are unwilling to pay for it. Let's hope they do not hit the snooze button. The loser is the marketplace of ideas. We can't have that.

New York Times subscription wall has created vaccum?

Al Gore tells it like it is
Topic: Media 9:52 pm EDT, Oct  6, 2005

I came here today because I believe that American democracy is in grave danger. It is no longer possible to ignore the strangeness of our public discourse . I know that I am not the only one who feels that something has gone basically and badly wrong in the way America's fabled "marketplace of ideas" now functions.

It is important to note that the absence of a two-way conversation in American television also means that there is no "meritocracy of ideas" on television. To the extent that there is a "marketplace" of any kind for ideas on television, it is a rigged market, an oligopoly, with imposing barriers to entry that exclude the average citizen.

Read this entire thing.

All the points Al makes here speak right to the heart of what Decius and I are trying to do with MemeStreams. I do share the belief that the Marketplace of Ideas is in danger, and the Meritocracy of Ideas is mostly dead. I also see the Internet as the thing that is going to save it. We need to increase our intellectual production capacity. Ideas evolve through dialogue, and a dialogue does not exist in a broadcast environment. The meritocracy that we assume to exist, which is key to the whole process, is being strangled to death by the hands of people like my arch-nemisis, Rupert Murdoch.

I badly want to get Al to speak at MTSU about these issues. Last year he gave a talk about the environment, and it was a good talk, but it was not what I wanted to hear. I wanted to hear this.

I think I'm going to bounce around some email and see what I can make happen.

Al Gore tells it like it is

CPJ News Alert 2005 - Rumsfeld to address journalist safety in Iraq
Topic: Media 7:50 pm EDT, Sep 30, 2005

The Committee to Protect Journalists was able to enlist the support of U.S. Senator John Warner in their efforts to get Donald Rumsfeld to address reporter safety in Iraq. Reuters is following the story, but strangely no one else appears to be paying attention.

"I raised the question of the safety of the press in Iraq and their ability to carry out the very important function of reporting to the American people," Warner told reporters after the hearing. "I've discussed it with the secretary. He's going to take it under immediate consideration," Warner, a senior Republican from Virginia, added.

Gen. George Casey, U.S. commander in Iraq, told the committee he would follow up the request. "It's an issue that we take very seriously. And what I will do when I get back to Baghdad is I'll get a few of the local journalists together and work through some of their concerns with them," Casey said.

In 2005 alone, CPJ has documented seven cases in which reporters, photographers, and cameramen were detained for prolonged periods without charge or the disclosure of any supporting evidence. Some of those detained worked for CBS News, Reuters, The Associated Press, and Agence France-Presse. At least four Iraqi journalists remain in U.S. custody.

CPJ News Alert 2005 - Rumsfeld to address journalist safety in Iraq

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