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Author Topic: Media, good or bad?  (Read 956 times)

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Offline TickTopic starter

Media, good or bad?
« on: January 02, 2011, 01:41:54 AM »
Before going into this, I just want to stat, I am a firm believer in free enterprise and the amendments.

But after a few classes fir my Major it got me wandering if the lack of restrictions on the media, as logical and understandable as they are, still just leave too much room for things to be skewed, and people will still eat it up.

For the record I am a criminology major so that is where most my examples will come from since that is the subject i am most comfortable with.

The media tends to portray crimes in a way that makes most people believe crime rates are soaring. Sometimes without even saying it. But there might be one murder in a city in a week but that murder will be played constantly and on every channel. Going into my criminology class, as someone who never watches the news and gets everything second hand from people who do, i thought crime rates at m area were an all time high. Midway through the class my teacher informs me we are making our way down to a record low in most crime brackets.

Considering that I get most my information on such subjects second hand until i either do research or learn otherwise in class, what does it mean when the majority of people I know, who are mostly middle class, believe things that aren't true because of how the media portrays them. On the same note you can't really blame them since they have to keep ratings. But one of the biggest growing crimes, cyber crime, was a greatly larger deal then i was told. Hundreds of thousands of credit card numbers were hacked off a store near my house fan .I never new about it. Honestly I wonder why that was never on the news. My family is a nutcase about such things and sends me emails when a new crime technique comes out. The only ones one cyber crime are emails to watch out for.

Even more so, the statistics in my book stated that cyber crime was least recognized crime and he least reported on. I honestly think that it would do the world some good to have it on the news that hackers are starting hacking companies. I didn't know hackers teamed up at all and I am friends with a lot of soft ware developers and programmers.

Perhaps I am just not informed enough but it just seems like the media could be better used if some organizations that are meant to monitor such things(I really need to work on remembering names) told them what to report on, rather then the most violent of crimes.

Just curious on if anyone could inform me more or had any opinions.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Media, good or bad?
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2011, 02:08:33 AM »
If criminology is your major, then you will see a lot more of this in your near future and throughout your career.  The media will be a constant source of misinformation that your instructors will have great fun pointing out to your classmates.  Being able to see through the information and to the agenda behind the wording is part of learning that discipline.  Our modern media operates as a business.  The corporation that owns the network makes money from advertisers, those advertisers want to buy a premium time slot so in order to drive up the prices for the time slot there must be viewers.  Such also goes for radio, internet and paper.  All the profits are driven by traffic.  People gravitate toward and easily identify with crime, especially violent crime.  Easier to understand murder, rape and theft than to wrap someone‚Äôs head around corporate espionage or hacking.

Offline TickTopic starter

Re: Media, good or bad?
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2011, 02:15:28 AM »
Heh, my teachers said the same thing. I guess what I was really thinking about was like the government or another company paying them to adervtise a certain form of crime that was/is on the uproar and thus showing the statistics of how bad it is getting. Not a long section but an incentive to put what is really the issue up there for people to see and notice. I didn't even know about a lot of cyber crim statistics till i took the class.

For instance that a decent percentage of the google ad banners are infected with viruses. Or that that store mentioned above that i still can't remember the name of had been hacked. I suppose that would hurt business though and there are a lot of news venues and companies so I suppose it is unrealitistic. Just seems like there should be a way to make what is important more common knowledge.

Offline OldSchoolGamer

Re: Media, good or bad?
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2011, 02:42:52 AM »
The problem with the media here in America is that they are all owned lock, stock and barrel by the corporate conglomerates.  It's corporate news.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Media, good or bad?
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2011, 03:11:12 AM »
There is always the debate over what knowledge is more important.  Is a murder more important than someone stealing a credit card number?  Is a rape more important than someone putting a virus on a computer? 

Offline TickTopic starter

Re: Media, good or bad?
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2011, 03:33:16 AM »
I guess that is a good point I am from a household where they taught me to defend myself. So I kinda prioritize what my family isn't used to fighting. Not to sound arrogant but I suppose I am biased since I am more confident in my ability to defend myself physically then digitally. I guess my rational opinion would be to show all of them but prioritize the less known ones that are becoming more common so th public knows what to look out for.

Though Gamer is right and it is a corporation. So profits are the prime concern. Which is where i wish there was an incentive for them to focus on the issues that need more action. But I am guessing the argument against that is which one is more serious of an issue, murder or theft.

Online Vekseid

Re: Media, good or bad?
« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2011, 05:00:12 AM »
When ad hijacking was found a couple years back it certainly made a few solid rounds through the tech news sites. Slashdot's front page and all.

Most of us in the tech industry are quite familiar with hacker organizations, some of which are older than many members here. Legion of Doom, Cult of the Dead Cow, l0pht, etc. Recently most focus is on Russian and Chinese interests. Russian interests tend to focus on financial scams (which go further than most people want to think about), while China is mostly industrial espionage. Every single major server on the Internet is subject to thousands of attacks per day by people looking to expand their own botnets. Most of these are just attempts at exploiting weak ssh security but recently we've been hit by more curious attempts, such as drive-by sockstress attacks.

So alright. I can throw all these names and terms out there - but what do they mean to you, really? If the typical media talked about sockstress attacks - when even half the tech community thinks they are unpreventable when they are easily guarded against - what would it mean to them?

Everyone has a heart, so heart disease matters. Brain. Liver. Skin. It's easy to make people relate to that. The number of ways to get into your bank account is a different matter entirely. How many people expect malware on their phone? Who knows what to watch for and what to do? This is made worse by the fact that it's different from phone to phone.

I can't really blame the media for not wanting to focus on computer crimes. I can blame them for their anti-intellectualism, however, which doesn't help.

Americans have been made pretty hostile to the idea of a publicly accountable media, rather than a media that is accountable to advertisers, which is the only real alternative for 'free' media. This is why you see business journals give so much better reporting, as a rule.

Offline TickTopic starter

Re: Media, good or bad?
« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2011, 02:29:55 PM »
Okay so this might be a stupid question, but say I wanted to pick a news source to follow since I probably should, which one would you recommend? Similarly, can you suggest a tech source of information so I could keep up to date with new cyber crime issues? Trying to become better informed and you all seem to have a good idea.

Online Vekseid

Re: Media, good or bad?
« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2011, 02:58:46 AM »
The two I've always tended to follow are Ars Technica and Slashdot.

Everyone has their complaints about every outlet. Slashdot often has good commentary by people in the know about the subject at hand - whatever it might be - even if the summary is itself not all that great.  It can take a short while for the idiots to get filtered out, though.

Ars Technica focuses on its own articles and perspective, rather than linking to others, so the articles themselves tend to be more valuable, but most of it may not be all that interesting to you.

Offline SuperHans

Re: Media, good or bad?
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2011, 03:55:51 AM »
The problem is that no matter who controls it, the media will always give misleading information. Presenting statistics without bias, slant or opinion may be more ethical and responsible, but then only the most educated would read it.

The issue with further monitoring of the media is that whoever then controls the media in lieu of the corporations (most likely to be the government) will have just as much interest in skewering the facts. Embarassing leaks from the White House? Invent a crime wave and people's attentions will be drawn. That's ignoring an even deeper issue-control of the media, no matter for what purpose, is dangerous in a democratic society.

The positives of the current system, without censorship, is that both sides of an argument can have their say. The internet is filled with alternative news sources, such as the ones Vekseid pointed out. If the major corporate news sources were subjected to tighter controls, they'd no doubt demand the same for others.

Offline Jude

Re: Media, good or bad?
« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2011, 09:40:31 AM »
I see the failings of the media as pretty different from the way that most people have articulated them here.  To me it's the fact that the populace fails as a whole to think critically and likes simple answers to complicated questions that results in a largely inept media which isn't trying to educate the public on a lot of issues (because the public largely prefers simply being fed information that confirms their worldview over actually learning unbiased things).

Take the fact that the media covers murder and rape more than hacking.  I'd say they do this because the morality behind those crimes is incredibly obvious, the people who did them are easier to identify, their motives are generally pretty basic, the methods behind how the crime actually took place are easy to understand, and the information is seemingly relevant to the life of an everyday person who doesn't want to get murdered.  Hacking however, is full of moral grays in many issues, involves technology that most people can't grasp, for reasons that they can't relate to (such as the software and hardware freedom movements), and all too often the end result actually benefits the populace or only hurts corporations (which people are biased against today).  Look at the one kind of high-tech/information crime people are actually aware of:  identity theft.  They are because the media paints a very simplistic picture of what it is, why it exists, and what the motives behind it are; they've brought it to a level that people can relate to.

The biggest problem in the media today is that the idea of covering both sides on the basis of fairness or balance utterly fails to do what it is intended to.  Yes, on a lot of issues (such as ones related to political ideology) asking the two sides of an issue for input is a good way to inform people, but there are other issues where doing so gives people a false view of how contested a subject is.  False balance can make an issue seem unsettled when in fact it is quite settled in reality and the "expert" for the other side is a stark-raving lunatic from an unbiased point of view.  The media's coverage of science versus pseudoscience, for example, utterly fails to give viewers an appropriate look at how completely implausible the claims made by the other side are.  Yet this practice benefits the business side of media by allowing them to present news and information like an ink blot:  because both sides are prevented people can exercise their impartiality and view the argument in such a way that whichever side they wish to "win" will due to confirmation bias.

"Fairness" is presenting evidence without tampering with it in order to make it seem like either side is more supported by fact than it is.  Fairness is not giving equal time and plausibility to both sides and letting the viewer toss a coin on which opinion to go with.  All opinions are not created equal; some have research and fact backing them up, others are crackpot theories.  Hearsay and pure conjecture should never be the basis of reporting, or you reduce media to the rumor mill, which is exactly what many news outlets have reduced themselves to by being completely incredulous in their reporting.

There's a real reason why newspapers are going by the wayside in my opinion, and it's the same one that NPR and PBS suffer low viewership and few people watch Charlie Rose.  They're part of the old-guard of media that actually believed in trying to give people access to information as accurately as possible (minus their editorial sections, of course, but at least they were honest about what was biased and wasn't with clear labeling unlike cable news), and nothing else.  There are still organizations out there that attempt to communicate "the truth" which aren't part of the old-guard, but I don't think they employ the same level of rigor and self-discipline that old media did.

There's another thread around here somewhere I made full of comments from Ted Koppel, I suggest checking it out.

EDIT:  Here's the link:

Offline loveforcougar

Re: Media, good or bad?
« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2011, 11:28:17 PM »
Media can be a good pillar for the development of a country, but being the puppets of corporates they transform the society for their benefits.

Offline monicaclassycoed

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Re: Media, good or bad?
« Reply #12 on: January 21, 2011, 11:29:01 AM »

The news is incredibly self-censored in the USA. Punditry has turned complex issues into 5 minute simple minded segments. No wonder this country is spiraling down the drain and the citizenery is oblivious to it.

Offline AtlasEros

Re: Media, good or bad?
« Reply #13 on: January 22, 2011, 09:54:04 PM »
The media really does such a horrible job.  No real interest in reporting, only in manipulating the facts for their stories and pumping fear into their viewers, so they feel they have to watch.

Offline Sandman02

Re: Media, good or bad?
« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2011, 12:40:48 AM »
  I go to to get my news fix. Since it's publicly funded, I find that there's less bias there than at other news websites. Of course, sometimes there will still be bias, but if you read the comments to a story you will likely see users bitching about the bias and threatening to cancel their prescriptions to NPR over it =)