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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • Major (Score:3, Insightful)

    The White House changed the headline "President Bush Announces Combat Operations in Iraq Have Ended" to include the word "Major" before "Combat".

    This is absolutely true. However, the second headline was entirely accurate, while the first headline was false. Bush never said that combat operations in Iraq had ended, he said MAJOR combat operations in Iraq had ended. They fixed an error, because the headline said Bush said something he never said. That hardly qualifies as revisionist history. I can find
    • I stand corrected about the White House site changing the headline. I did some research on the speech and you are correct, though it makes me wonder why they had an erroneous headline in the first place. Since so many people merely scan headlines, it's easy to paint a false picture and then later claim "that's not what was said". I've often had fun reading articles and seeing how closely they match the headline. Frequently they don't and I think that is also a form of dishonesty.

      I also agree that poli

      • Political parties suck.

        That's the truth. So why wring your hands over their perpetual failure to
        deliver democratic control of society? Just admit that capitalist republics
        don't deliver democracy, and look for something that does.
        • Just admit that capitalist republics don't deliver democracy, and look for something that does.

          I can't admit that because I don't believe it. From my perspective, there are three major things wrong with the US system: money, media, and machines (political ones, that is). The media is an obvious problem. The yellow journalism of Fox News is just the most obvious example. Make the media truly competitive or, better yet, permanently publicly fund the media as a public resource (rather than forcing the

          • Make the media truly competitive

            What does competitive mean in this sentence? I see a lot of competition. Granted, it's on minutiae that bore me, but it's competition.

            • I almost didn't answer this because I really wanted to withdraw from this thread (but if I can't take the heat I should stay out of hell). However, you asked a fair question and I think it deserves an answer.

              A good primer on the topic is Unreliable Sources [amazon.com] by Martin Lee and Normon Solomon. It was published back in 1991 one and explained very thoroughly the problems with media consolidation over a decade ago. The problem has become worse due to increased media mergers [progressive.org]. We're all familiar with monopolie

              • One more question, I promise! You don't have to answer if you don't want. I'm not sure I like the answer.

                If there were competition, how many people would notice and how many would change their media consumption habits?

                • by Ovid (2709) on 2003.12.24 12:43 (#26819) Homepage Journal

                  The short (and cheap) answer is I don't know if people would notice and if things would change. If competition led to better quality news but people still chose sizzle over steak, that would be a disappointment, but at least people would be freely choosing instead of having the choice made for them. There is good information out there now, but it's not always easy to find it [projectcensored.org].

                  A more accurate answer would be to discuss why I desire more competition -- or more precisely, a different sort of competition (nice of me to casually shift the debate via clarifications, eh?). But before I describe that, I should discuss my rationale.

                  Virtually all economists argue that free access to information is a prerequisite for a properly functioning market (there's a branch of economics called information economics [econlib.org] that explores the cost of information). Adam Smith said this. David Ricardo said this. Milton Friedman said this. John Keynes said this. No one questions the importance of the availability of information. The worse the information, the worse the market. This is much of the reason why command economies fail. The farmer sees that he's getting too much rain and reacts accordingly -- unless he has quotas set for him months ago by a central government that couldn't foresee the weather. You wind up with stores with no bread but an abundance of socks.

                  Conversely, the better the information, the better the functioning of a given market. This is part of the reason why Extreme Programming can work so well when applied to an appropriate project. The roles of all of the actors are well defined as is the flow of information between them. Easy access to quality information is necessary for effective decisions whether we're dealing with the small scale or the large.

                  While the tie-in to the media is obvious, it's not obvious how increased competition will improve the situation. Even though there used to be more competition within the media, the yellow journalism of Hearst was easily on par with what Fox is pumping out today. In another example, Robin Anderson, reported in Consumer Culture and TV Programming [amazon.com]:

                  A study of women's magazine in the period 1983 to 1987 revealed that not one magazine that carried cigarette advertising published any full-length feature, column, review, or editorial on any aspect of the dangers of smoking. During the same period lunch cancer was determined to be the number one killer of women, surpassing even breast cancer.

                  Noreena Hertz reports an NBC story in which GE engineers in a nuclear power plant discovered that one out of every three bolts that a major supplier was sending them was defective. GE had been accepting those bolts for eight years before discovering this. GE killed the story. Similarly, an ABC story revealed that Disney had allegedly hired pedophiles at one of their theme parks. That's not just steak, that's sizzle to boot (as the Michael Jackson story demonstrates). However, ABC never ran that report. Disney owns ABC.

                  These are all significant news stories. This is information that might change how you shop. It might change how you vote. It might do plenty of things, but it won't if you don't have a change to hear about it. And those anecdotes are not alone. Many books have been written about the stories that corporate dominated media is suppressing. It makes you wonder how many stories we didn't hear.

                  The problem lies in the inherent conflict of interest with how the media currently exists in our country. Frequently, managers are prohibited from hiring family. Judges are to recuse themselves when they know the defendant. Politicians are supposed to divest themselves of holdings that might unduly influence their political decisions. While the media often jumps to point out these issues, you don't hear them taking themselves to task. This puts the public in the awful situation of being dependent on the media to tell us what's wrong with the media. It's like that silly interview question "what's your worst habit?" "I work too hard."

                  When Jesus said a man cannot serve two masters, one might be forgiven for thinking that he was prophesying about today's media. The media is there for the public -- a public which needs this information to make good decisions -- but it's either owned by huge conglomerates like Disney and GE, or it earns the bulk of its revenues from advertising. The effect of this conflict of interest in readily apparent when people dig for it, but instead, media giant Clear Channel [clearchannelsucks.org] warns of liberal media domination and the pretty blond on the nightly news stares at us through sea anenomes of mascara while commenting about the new store in the mall.

                  As for what a different sort of competition might entail, I'll leave that for others to sort out. I've written enough and, I'm sure, some will be upset with what I have to say. I've done enough for a Christmas Eve morning.

                  Happy holidays. (and I do mean that sincerely)

                  • During the same period lunch cancer was determined to be the number one killer of women...

                    Lunch cancer? What the hell is lunch cancer? It must be another story the media has covered up. Yeah, that's it!