Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The fake news problem

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  • Stephen Judd,

    I know a surprising number of people on Twitter who seem to love RT as a source. I hope they were chastened (but they won't be) when RT tweeted a video of the 2011 quakes, shot in broad daylight, as an image of the Kaikoura quakes on Sunday night.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3121 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    I wanted to cry / scream / shake my head in despair everytime I got referred to sites like USUncut.com if I wanted to know the truth during the US election, and then told that if I referred to the WaPo or NYTimes, that the MSM were just a giant conspiracy.

    Disappearing down <insert your preferred expletive> rabbitholes.

    I'm not sure what to do about it except keep on fighting back, and buying MSM subscriptions.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    But I will tell you one thing: think twice before you complain about the “mainstream media”. News organisations aren’t perfect, but they’ve been basically your only bulwark against all this.

    And they’ve got plenty of bullshit of their own to answer for, so can I do both?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • David Herkt,

    Exactly. And enough is enough. I have been noticing 'robot news' for a while now, and its willing human servitors (by that you can practically add every media outlet in the world now too, with their stories by click-bait for click-bait). Over the last year, I have found myself checking stories that appear apparently genuine but when double-checked, even just clicking on other things on the alleged sites, one finds something seriously wrong... Indeed, it is getting to the stage you could almost premise a new paid media outlet on the fact that it hosts no fake news or click-bait... I'm also disturbed by the complete insulation those pesky little algorithms give is where literally we can see nothing other than what we might agree with or like - I've been a TV researcher for an occupation and I need to find diversity of views. I'd hate to think what the Google algorithms make of my search history but in the short term it is only too obvious... You can nearly see how your searches change the results and the associated ads immediately... It is one reason I still like hard-copy magazines and newspapers. One gets a comparatively unmediated chunk of the world, as opposed to just the stuff you can be bothered clicking. An eye across a page is a swifter means of information-gathering than any number of clicks. But, yes, despairingly, the little bubbles we live in... and it was only too clear watching American voters in the recent election.

    Auckland • Since Sep 2007 • 52 posts Report Reply

  • Nat Curnow,

    Instead of making people more informed, is mass access to the internet actually making people more ignorant and less informed?

    Since Nov 2006 • 12 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    So it's an organised form of Google-bombing. And is RT the new Pravda?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5399 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew R266,

    Credible fact check sites are to be preferred to relying on MSM which reports $100,000 bottles of wine and "soft" interviews of Honest John, etc. Sadly there are better active fact checking sites in Australia (ABC, The Conversation) than in New Zealand. Although sometimes Radio NZ does it, Mediawatch as well.

    Since Sep 2014 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah, in reply to Andrew R266,

    Well, yes, but for example, when I saw a tweet saying that the FBI had announced an investigation into alleged Russian tampering with the US election, a quick visit to the NY Times front page was enough to confirm that it was about as credible as all the frothing from Wikileaks in the last few weeks.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Andrew R266,

    Credible fact check sites are to be preferred to relying on MSM which reports $100,000 bottles of wine and “soft” interviews of Honest John, etc.

    The Herald's failure to own the bottle-of-wine debacle was lamentable. But it's the same Herald that employs Kirsty Johnston, Matt Nippert and others. Blanket dismissals of the "MSM" are part of the problem.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22584 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    So it’s an organised form of Google-bombing.

    Yeah. And while liberals were busy Google-bombing Trump so that a search for "wankpuffin" delivered Trump results, the Russians were doing something a bit more focused.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22584 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    Blanket dismissals of the “MSM” are part of the problem.

    Hear hear! Radio NZ is part of the MSM, and we've all been relying on it heavily for the past 36 hours or so. And having dealt with Matt Nippert with respect to a few tax stories, I'm very impressed by the way he digs and digs and digs to get information out of government and big business.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen R, in reply to Russell Brown,

    The Herald's failure to own the bottle-of-wine debacle was lamentable. But it's the same Herald that employs Kirsty Johnston, Matt Nippert and others. Blanket dismissals of the "MSM" are part of the problem.

    Indeed, but I don't go to Stuff or NZHerald website homepages any more because of the clickbait (and jarring editing). I'll follow links from people who say "This is a good article by...", if I trust those curators, but otherwise, I find I yell at my computer a lot less if I just go to http://www.RadioNZ.co.nz

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Burleigh,

    I've been hard on Russell on Twitter in the run-up to the election. It has been hard watching people on the NZ left re-tweet writers who are egging on war with Syria. It isn't just loons who see a no fly zone as the beginning of a war against Russia. Before anyone asks, no, I don't think Trump was a better option.

    The Putin hysteria has also been awful and is one of the fakest news stories of the year. Yes, Russia deploys propaganda, and yes, there is admiration on the right for the tough-guy/thug images of both Trump and Putin. But many establishment writers (IE, working for largish organisations) in the US went insane hyping up the story. Here is Kurt Eichenwald writing for Newsweek:

    Western intelligence and law enforcement say tens of thousands of people have been working with Russia on its hacking and disinformation campaign for many years. They include propagandists and cyberoperatives stationed in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Novosibirsk, located in the southwestern part of Siberia. Operations have also been conducted in the United States, primarily out of New York City, Washington, D.C., and Miami. Those involved include a large number of Russian émigrés, as well as Americans and other foreign nationals. Intelligence operations in Europe and the U.S. have determined that the money these émigrés receive for their work is disguised as payments from a Russian pension system. One U.S. official says there is evidence many of these Americans and foreign nationals do not know they are part of Russia’s propaganda operation.

    Emphasis mine.

    This is race baiting bullshit. Trump talks about Muslims and 'Islamic Extremism' in much the same way.

    Since Nov 2016 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to Nat Curnow,

    Instead of making people more informed, is mass access to the internet actually making people more ignorant and less informed?

    That’s a big question. I think a lack of listening isn't good.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4046 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Tom Burleigh,

    I’ve been hard on Russell on Twitter in the run-up to the election. It has been hard watching people on the NZ left re-tweet writers who are egging on war with Syria.

    This is just a meaningless statement. No one is “egging on war with Syria”. As recently as September, the US reached agreement with Assad and the Russians to focus on Isis and al-Nusrah. Syria agreed to cease bombing defined civilian areas. It fell apart when Assad and Russia rained hell down on Aleppo.

    See Amnesty International: Syrian and Russian forces targeting hospitals as a strategy of war and this, also from Amnesty:

    The Syrian government, with Russia’s support, has without a doubt used air power to deliberately inflict suffering on civilians, routinely bombing densely populated civilian areas and buildings. For several years, there’s been a clear pattern of government bombardment as a means of punishing populations in areas controlled by the armed opposition. But there is more to it than that. Over the past year, Amnesty International has documented a pattern of deliberate attacks on hospitals in the north of Aleppo governorate in what appears to be part of a military strategy to empty towns and villages of residents, in order to pave the way for ground forces to advance.

    It is this same strategy that Syrian government forces are now using to gain control of Aleppo city. The city’s besiegement – coupled with the impotence of the UN Security Council and others – has empowered Russia and the Syrian government to attack civilians with impunity and leave only one option for Aleppo residents to escape the horror – forcing them to evacuate to government-controlled areas. Once the city is emptied of people, the government can seize control and claim victory. It did this last month too in Daraya, near Damascus, which the remaining inhabitants reluctantly agreed to completely evacuate after four years of brutal siege and bombardment.

    One of the most despicable things that people kept linking me to was the Pilger screed in which he twisted all kinds of facts to depict the FSA as no different to Isis and basically characterised the bombing of Aleppo as taking out the trash. Fuck him and every other apologist for what’s happening. Fuck them and their undying love affair with former Communist strongmen.

    It isn’t just loons who see a no fly zone as the beginning of a war against Russia.

    I didn’t see how Clinton’s idea would work. But that’s not the same as “starting World War III’. And saying so is just reciting words.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22584 posts Report Reply

  • Alan Perrott,

    and what the hell is a Chief Strategist anyway if it isn't about overtly looking to exploit everything and anything for political gain rather than finding solutions to problems?

    other than that, I'm as guilty as anyone in following news sources that reinforce my own beliefs, but I do try not to take everything at face value or treat politics as a sporting event where you have to back your team.
    and I do wonder about the motivation levels of journos who constantly see colleagues getting the chop for reasons that have nothing to do with how they did their job. when your story placement and ongoing income is dependent on clicks you'll inevitably find yourself chasing the low hanging fruit that peddle to short attention spans and those who get their jollies from outrage. argh, I think I'll go listen to some music.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 438 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Burleigh, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I'm talking about writers like the Daily Beast's Michael Weiss - a 'Russia expert' who doesn't even speak Russian, who pivoted to being a Syria expert. This guy is a fellow of the Atlantic Council - which receives money from the Turkish Army, Turkish Petroleum and Saudi Arabia. He's a fucking shill. Fuck him, fuck Saudi Arabia, fuck the USA and the 100 scumbag UK Labour MPs who voted down a plan to stop arming the KSA.

    Since Nov 2016 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Alan Perrott,

    argh, I think I'll go listen to some music.

    That's been my approach. There's a new Enigma album out! And Tallis Scholars had a sale.

    I logged into failbook recently to see about 500 notifications of US bullshit, and luckily a "47 of your 49 friend have marked themselves safe", plus a post from one of the others - looks as though he hasn't signed up to that sub-system.

    Unfortunately my RSS feed has been about 50% news of the US, but just marking alternet and The Guardian-Politics feeds as read clears a big chunk of that out. But there's still PA and other more personal blogs like DimPost going on about it. Whatever, we don't know enough to do anything useful and we have no influence over the result. For all the difference it makes I'd rather look at pictures of cats (or expensive cameras, but you know, whatever).

    Australian politics has been bad enough of late - the "good" news is that Australia might be shipping some refugees from our torture camps to the US. That might, however, test the "anything is better than this" theory if the Trump-is-a-nazi doomsayers are correct. In other Australian news, same-sex marriage and a Treaty are still out of the question but the constitutional amendment to say "you exist, now shut up" to the abos[sic] is still on the cards.

    So, what good news is there from NZ politics?

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1129 posts Report Reply

  • Alan Perrott, in reply to Moz,

    NZ politics? never mind all that, I hear tell Ritchie is all across the earthquake stuff. Once he's got that sorted we can get him onto housing.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 438 posts Report Reply

  • Ken Perrott, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    I noticed exactly the same thing with Al Jazeera. i guess it is related to news media providing a bit of background the NZ earthquakes.

    Hamilton • Since Nov 2016 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    The idea that AI will actually write most of the news we see is genuinely horrifying.

    The Singularity University 'Roadshow' is in Chchch at the moment
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/86429504/singularity-u-the-disruption-will-take-your-job-even-if-youre-a-doctor

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7771 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Deborah,

    all the frothing from Wikileaks

    I suspect Wikileaks is now well past its 'use-by' date, it seems to me it used to not have all the 'agenda baggage' it now carries, or that Assange has burdened it with...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7771 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Alan Perrott,

    Ritchie is all across the earthquake stuff

    yeah but has he rescued those cows yet?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19573 posts Report Reply

  • Alan Perrott, in reply to Sacha,

    mate, he carried them to Chch hisself. seems he drop kicked the little one first, split the posts too. then carried the big buggers out one over each shoulder - eat your heart out Meads.

    champion. end of.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 438 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Tom Burleigh,

    I’m talking about writers like the Daily Beast’s Michael Weiss – a ‘Russia expert’ who doesn’t even speak Russian, who pivoted to being a Syria expert.

    I know Weiss is a perennial hate figure for the "anti imperialist" Left – but as editor of The Interpreter, which translates, and republishes Russian news, he performs a valuable role.

    ,q>This guy is a fellow of the Atlantic Council – which receives money from the Turkish Army, Turkish Petroleum and Saudi Arabia. </q>

    That sounds really terrible, until you go and look at the honour roll of contributors and discover that the government of Sweden, the Carnegie Foundation , Thomson Reuters and the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions are all contributors on the same tier as the Turkish Ministry of Energy & National Resources – which itself is on the list because it was a sponsor for the AC Energy and Economic Summi,, which was held in Istanbul in November last year. (It wasn't exactly a Big Oil fest – one of the keynotes was the European Commission Climate Action commissioner.)

    Yes, that does sound less alarming than picking a handful of donors out of a list of hundreds (the Council has begun listing every donor over $250, which is welcome – think tanks do need an eye kept on them). Indeed, one could equally say that the Council "takes money" from such evil interests as Penguin Random House, the Open Source Policy Center and LexisNexis, and it would feel pretty different. The Council's biggest donor is the philanthropist Adrienne Arsht, who is best-known for her support of performing arts projects and funding programmes to help Hispanic and disabled young people.

    I know Global Research will tell you different – but RationalWiki's assessment of Global Research and its countless conspiracy theories (from Jews to vaccines) is a bracing read.

    Honestly, this happens every single time I follow up these statements – they never add up to the claim made.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22584 posts Report Reply

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