Debra Smith


This conversation is closed.

Where is the investigative journalism of the past? What happened to the free press which challenges PR and special interests to bring truth?

Why is it that there are fewer and fewer journalists and fewer jobs for journalists and yet we are starving for unbiased news reports? Where are the intrepid investigative journalists who do not just write articles from press releases but check out the facts and uncover the truth?

Why is it that Wikileaks had to bring us the truth instead of journalists?
Why is it that the news is so edited that we need TEDster Julia Bacha, a Brazilian film maker to tell us about the nonviolent actions of the Palestinians?

I recently read a book called Deadly Spin. It exposed the role of PR executives in influencing media to the detriment of the average person while promoting a climate designed to produce greater profit for those who pay them (like tobacco companies, HMOs and others.)

Closing Statement from Debra Smith

Over the course of this discussion, we learned that there are great examples of investigative journalism, but they are few and far between and they are often no longer reporters at all. People like Misha Glenny who reported on the superhacker are shining examples of their profession and film makers like Julia Bacha seem to be taking over the lion's share of investigative reporting on the nonviolent actions of the Palestinians. Where did we hear from both of those people? Right here at TED so it is clear that TED is providing a service for humanity that we can find almost nowhere else.
"There was a time when the journalists stood as watchmen for democracy. A healthy 4th estate ( free press) is absolutely essential to a healthy virbrant democracy. It's the press who are supposed to have our backs and inform us about what we need to know. Public awareness and knowledge of the banking scandal outfall is minimal..very little coverage leaving everyone in the dark about what happened, how affects them and what is being done to make sure it never happens again.Without investigative journalists independently providing their duty as the fourth estate, there is no major societal force to counteract the things that are killing humanity." Lindsay

It is very difficult to get the facts and that is why journalism used to be such a revered and cheered profession. I wonder though, is it more dangerous than digging diamonds, fighting disease or working for the UN? It may or may not be more dangerous but it is just as or more vital a service for humanity. There is a quote that says: My people perish for lack of knowledge. Without the facts our governments are making flawed decisions that put millions of human lives at risk. Groups with vested interests against the good of the majority of citizens have far too much influence in our democracies. Vive la free press!

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    Sep 10 2011: No worry Debra, power of social media is going to shape up media mugals who are just doing propaganda , good name of which is journalism / PR.
    Can't remember when last I came across any NEWs from media........rather I get news from neighbours, friends or people who were on spot when something happened somewhere. Nowadays social media helping me to expand the horizon beyond my neighbourhood or country......
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      Sep 10 2011: Hi Salim! I too am heartened that average people can share information and that much that is occurring is getting 'out there'. I worry though, as PR firms and corporations get more and more skilled at 'spin' and as Wall street demands more and more profit from each company that the lies are really hurting people.
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        Sep 11 2011: Agree , I think regulation should come up there. When I say regulation , I know many will start screeming saying it's contrary to "freedom of press'" ,"freedom of speech" etc........

        What about "conflict of interest" in media industry when they get paid or take money to spin the story? In the name of "freedom of press" , "freedom of speech" they are just making money making people fool...... it's not even yellow journalism.....

        When these "media mugals" intentionally gives a partial picture targeting someone , is not that equivalent to blackmailing ?
        Death of Diana , are not photo journalists to some extent responsible ?
        There should be some process in place....... no profession should have freedom with out responsibility
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    Sep 23 2011: I am sorry this conversation is seems so critically intertwined with other concurrent conversations in positive ways.In connecetion with the two disussions on oil.

    ..I have been trying to learn more about SAGD ( the technology being touted as a sustainable and cost effective method for tapping eavy oils). I can't claim in the span of a week that my reaserach has by any means been exhaustive but I have noticed that almost every source I have found is heaviliy biased. All of the nformation available is either industry created or tainted by ideology at the other extreme. There are no independent university studies on the science or environmental neutral sources that just lay out the whole picture .

    When the search is in an area we are trying to learn the truth about and have no background in ( as is the case in my search for truth about SAGD), its very difficult to assess the information I am encountering
    .Also it's amazing there isn't more ordiary media coverage and invetstigative reporting on SAGD and oil politics in general..It's a key issue affecting all our lives.In the past year I have ben nvesting quite a bit of time trying to be better informed on what I see as key geo political or economic events and its rare to find anty useful articles at all in popular media .I'm not sure what that means about media. Has our world just gotten so big and complex that journalism can't house or generate enough experts to keep us informed on key economic and geo political issues?Or is it that we just don;t want this kind of information? That it is us..our own expectations that drives what is" politically bearable" ( love that from David Brooks in the Charlie Rose video you shared) and what sell papers or generates viewers?

    One of the things I have noticed ( as I use te nternet mainly for reaerach is that wikipedia is more and more filling the gap..the engagement of the user community seems to have elevated it as a source.
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      Sep 23 2011: Hi Lindsay,
      Here it isn't as bad as in the USA yet entertainment dominates.
      This is since all media became dependant on advertising.
      I usually watch TV from Germany, Austria and the BBC 2 and 4. Some channels are strictly reserved for information and education without advertisement at all.
      It's a pity that few English speakers understand the German language and few Germans understand English.
      Your source for information would multiply.
      There is so much and so interesting or important that I considered a while ago to put it on a blog in Dutch. Maybe this was a better idea than I thought it to be, and most of all if I did it in English too.

      Do you know the following action site? They had some success in expressing the public opinion on important issues.>
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        Sep 24 2011: Thank you for adding that site Franz.

        It is a good one. When I look at it though, I begin to feel overwhelmed by the number of problems in the world. Perhaps this is part of the reason people are not as active as they should be. It is as though we do not know which end of the beast to grab hold of . That site is so colourful. So demanding of action now that even I, someone committed to taking action have to close my eyes and choose to stay and continue. I do not know how to improve it, and I know criticism should come with a solution but all I can do is say my brain initially says: TOO MUCH!
  • Sep 20 2011: I do investigative journalism as a hobby. What I have discovered is that scientists and their supporters are some of the most corrupt elements of society. At a National Philosophy Alliance Conference, I went on the recond and accused scienitists of a major university of committing restraint of trade and conspiracy to commit restraint of trade. I've also published this in a new energy journal.

    My research spans 12 years and thousands of hours of work, yet has not produced one dime of compensation; how could any professional survive under these conditions? Woodward and Berstein took great risks. So did Knight Ridder; they were the only major investigative journalists who knew what was going on in the lead up to the Iraq War. Now they have disappeared with no one to replace them.

    We can only hope that documentaries and books will alleviate the information overload where celebrity status is all important. Let us hope that the internet as the "great disseminator" will provide an alternative to standard investigative journalism.
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      Sep 20 2011: Welcome to the discussion Richard!

      Is investigative journalism something you were educated to do and how did you stumble upon the story you are working on? Your question of compensation is certainly valid. Were the 'successful' investigative journalists of the past hired to do such work or did they as regular reporters just break out of their normal role?
      Can you share with us what sorts of conduits you would need to be able to get the information that you have learned to the public in general? I would be interested to know your impressions of organizations like Wikileaks. Is there any hope the more traditional main stream media will ever take up the role of protector of society again?
      • Sep 20 2011: My main goal is access major news outlets. I publish routinely in a new energy journal called Infinite Energy. What I have discovered is that there has been a concerted effort to channel our resources into unrealistic science (hot fusion) and not focus on fission power. What most people don't realize is that our entire energy policy was build on demonizing nuclear power. The result, worldwide, is the needless death of millions of people from the coal cycle.

        I will publish an article in this journal that shows how we can achieve energy indepence first, than export more hydrogen than any country, rebuild our manufacturing sector, balance our budget, make social security, medicare and medicaid solvent, and, eventually pay down our debt---but it will take 100 years.

        The public never hears of hormesis (the proven fact that low levels of radiation are healthful while high levels can kill you.); we will have a failed energy policy. Greenpeace is the most destructive environmental organization ever. With their professed attempt to shut down nuclear power, they and their ilk will help cause up to 50,000,000 deaths in the next 50 years, especially in China and India.

        This is over and above the number that would die if we had nuclear energy instead of coal. Greenpeace was a major contributor to this carnage.

        Take the Japanese experience. More lives may be saved by low-level radiation than the 100-1000 who die from high levels of the few "hot" spots; the major players like MIT, Princeton, and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory will control funding---and politicians. MIT hot fusion scientists helped derail both low-energy nuclear reaction research (cold fusion) and the integral fast reactor, a new, safer nuclear reactor.

        Senator Kerry actively opposed the IFR program, the only Senator to do so. What the public doesn't realize is that Senator Kerry's constituents at MIT stood to lose upwards of $100 million if funding for the IFR continued. No one knows this.
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    Sep 19 2011: This is an important and timely question and interestingly intersects with the concerns raised both in Andrea's conversation about Facts and mine on the bank and church sex abuse scandals

    .A healthy 4th estate ( free press) is absolutely essential to a healthy virbrant democracy.. it's the press who are supposed to have our backs and inform us about what we need to know. Public awareness and knowledge of the banking scandal outfall is minimal..very little coverage leaving everyone in the dark about what happened, how affects them and what is being done to make sure it never happens again.

    Some have speculated that it is plutonomy control of media (press and broadcast) that has curtailed what is covered and how its covered. I trust a few people still, Gene Robinson, Washington Post..Rachel Maddow MSNBC but other voices I trust, Like Ralph Nader's has jsut disappeared to obscure little journals like the Palestine Chronicle. I trust National Public Radio and Charlie Rose. I trust Democracy Now.

    .Although it is very time consuming, and google or bing translations often poor, as I said in Anita Milers talk on who we trust in media, I think there is truth out there but we have to be our own investigative journalists. I don;t think do it yourself journalism serves democracy as effectively as a health 4th estate..whether in print, broadcast or iweb based. We need someplace where the majority of folk can go easily for reliabe ubiased coverage on importanat issues.

    We don't really have that right now.

    Thanks for an important topic.
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      Sep 20 2011: Thanks for another meaty comment Lindsay.
      I appreciate many of the same sites that you turn to for news and information. I am deeply concerned that the information is just not getting to the people whether in the case of the Church or currently in the bank scandal (for anyone who is curious please see the question that Lindsay has posted asking: Is anyone above the law). People have been so vulnerable to the information disseminated by sources we should be able to trust.

      I can't help but wonder why it is that the public is so anti whistle blowers and things like Wikileaks when it appears that they are struggling against huge odds to tell the truth behind the events of our lives.
      It has been said that we get the governments we deserve. I sure hope that is not true! Maybe we also get the media and news that we 'deserve"?
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        Sep 20 2011: I think "we the people of the wolrd" just haven't learned yet how to take it back..the information that we have, our 4th estate is really key to that...TED's bold social experiment in global conversations can be key to that because we learn directly from each other, process what is happoening around us in the world together ..that's why I often pick a topic that is in the news, or should be, to start a TED Conversation. The links and sources we all bring to these conversations shows all of us where we can go to fnd the truth.

        I am not sure what the new 4th estate will look like..I think it will be internet based, I think the UN"s declaration that the internet is a global fundamental human right is key to paving the way for that..I am believing more and more in the wisdom of unbiased journalism because it makes us think, makes us update our own belief systems, our own knowledge base. I don't really see any place where that is emerging right now, but it will emerge.
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      Sep 16 2011: OH MARK! I can't either! thanks so much for the link!
  • Sep 13 2011: Debra
    Here is another journalist speaking at a TEDX Conference in Ceiba, Honduras chronicling the violence in Columbia. He does it with words and pictures. This is the type of reporting we need to see.

    As you say in your post about Misha Glenny this "uncovering" aspect to all this is so important. We think we "see" the violence, but he makes us see it differently. The TEDx talk is in Spanish, but you can get what he says by seeing the images.
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      Sep 13 2011: Thanks so much Michael for using your skills to help us all. Many of us would never have taken the time to see this because it is in another language. That is a real service to all of us when one person takes the time to let us know that the video is approachable through visual images and interesting. Photojournalists are really speaking in the ultimate Esperanto!

      We all need to know who is doing great work in journalism and give them whatever support we can- even if it is just forwarding their message!
      • Sep 13 2011: That is what is needed in this case. He does a wonderful job of illustrating the various levels of violence that exist in Columbia. He even illustrates how the US funds to stop the narcos contribute to the whole cycle of violence.

        The most poignant part for me is when he talks about the "secuestrados" the kidnapped and the threats of the groups. Living that kind of life under this umbrella of threats is frightening.

        This is a TEDx video that should be translated so that everyone can see it.
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        Sep 13 2011: Debra , is contradictory when you complaint about information and data and also you recognize that other lenguages are illegible because are not in english. Information could be in any lenguage. We that speak other lenguages we dont have any obligation to translate any of our information. I speak seven differente lenguajes and I know that you deserve the courtesy of translated words. You north americans or canadians have to see deeply that kind of indiference to others who dont speak english. The world in not in english. Take the time and dare to know and understand the whole world please.
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          Sep 14 2011: Thank you for your advice on this. I can read a couple of languages but my ear is not trained to understand them. I do not speak Spanish but I believe that this man in the video above has something that I earnestly want to hear. I wish I could speak his language but as I do not and as TED has a translation service, I think my request is respectful and curious to understand what the man has tried so hard to express. While I think that North Americans can try harder to understand the world and learning other languages is one way to do so, I think that reaching out to understand in every or any way we can is another way to show respect. I think that I am sincerely trying to understand the world and I appreciate every input you take the time to share with me. At least, I believe that I have often thanked you for it.
  • Sep 12 2011: Debra
    Without getting into a philosophical discussion about Truth and truths, let's face it we all deal more with truths. By that I mean the information we see (however it is we see it) and the interpretation we give that information.

    I agree that real investigative journalism, the kind that finds a story and will not let it go, seems to be missing from much of our current popular media. They seem to play with the information in the way they choose. But we do have a responsibility to say wait, there is other information out there. Unfortunately, even with blogs and Wikileaks, it seems hard to find that venue today.

    The information, the truths are out there. I believe that. I agree that the whole business of not only spinning, but spitting out those truths is somehow getting distorted. So my question is this. How do we find a way to re-center ourselves, our societies and world around the idea that there is Truth (I mean yes, capital T truth) out there. As long as many think everyone has their own truth and every one of those is of equal value, we will live in this morass and good journalism will seem just like all the other information "out there."

    I believe we interpret truths through our mental models of the world. Those mental models come from our worldview. I think what we need is some good discussion about why our worldview has led us into this alley way you describe.
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      Sep 12 2011: Thanks for joining the discussion, Michael. You bring up the interesting point of TRUTH. Yes, many people believe that there are multiple versions of TRUTH but I think that I would like to sidestep that issue for now and suggest that the job of reporters is to ferret out actual fact from misleading and corrupt messages. With the building blocks of FACTS we can then each determine our own version of the big T truth. This goes a long way toward encouraging free people in free societies to form their own opinions and steer their own lives and governmental decisions.
      • Sep 12 2011: Ok. I agree with that. I still feel that even most of the time it is even hard to get at facts, or at least many people do not want "facts." A real issue is of course who controls those facts and how are they are interpreted by the society.

        Journalists are supposed to be those "gate-keepers" in a free society.
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          Sep 12 2011: It is absolutely hard to get the facts and that is why journalism used to be a revered and cheered profession. I wonder though, is it more dangerous than digging diamonds, fighting disease or working for the UN? It may or may not be more dangerous but it is just as or more vital a service for humanity. There is a quote that says: My people perish for lack of knowledge. Without the facts our governments are making flawed decisions that put millions of human lives at risk. Groups with vested interests against the good of the majority of citizens have far too much influence in our democracies.
          There was a time when the journalists stood as watchmen for democracy.
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        Sep 12 2011: Debra
        As I was reading this thread I remembered a report I saw a while ago. The subject was the same and they'd found out that reporters had become less of quality.
        Because news is more fragmented than in the past they couldn't pay as much as was usual. Less educated people with less expertise got the jobs for a mediocre salary. This was about Holland but illustrated with examples from the US.
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          Sep 12 2011: Thanks for sharing this Frans. There have surely been huge systemic changes in the news industry and the way news organizations work. With fewer newspaper sales and more people getting their news on line it is a tectonic shift.
          I do not wish to suggest that there are no courageous journalists especially since a number are still killed in war torn countries every year.
          My point in raising these issues is to make noise for some clever persons with capitalistic motives to realize that there is a void in the marketplace that is unmet. There is demand and where there is demand there is opportunity for people to make a profit filling a need.
  • Sep 12 2011: That's why credible media use fact checking and refer to experts for comments.
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    Sep 11 2011: The "free press" did absolutely nothing to make us aware of the impending housing market crash. They were asleep at the wheel. I've lost all respect for the major news gathering networks. They keep us blind to facts we need for self governance.
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      Sep 11 2011: I see it the same way Walter. Wasn't there a time when we could count on the real freedom of the press and a sort of integrity of the press that kept us aware, or have I fallen victim of the 'good old days' propaganda myself?
      If things have changed for the worse, what is causing it? Is it simply the issues raised in that old movie NETWORK? Has the news industry simply become big business which sells entertainment rather than news?
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        Sep 11 2011: Debra
        You give the answers but what can be done about it? People get what they ask for.
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          Sep 11 2011: It is my hope that some enterprising journalists will get a clue to the great need that they could fill, the heroism and the great hope that they represent. We need to call out more and more loudly for this type of journalism.
          Unfortunately, we saw what places like Wikileaks went through when they tried to sidestep mainstream media sources with the unvarnished truth. Truth tellers are black balled in our societies as 'whistle blowers" (to such an extent that legislation has been passed to protect them against the criminal and employment actions of the corrupt.) The man who exposed big tobacco was so blackballed in the US that he could only get a job in Canada (and we were fortunate to get him because our smoking rates plummeted after he helped us create anti-smoking campaigns.)
          I guess the answer to your question is that as individuals we need to provide a welcome and a market for these courageous journalists.
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        Sep 11 2011: Speculation on why the news media does not serve the interests of self-governance can go long into the night. The press has taboos, people can get fired for breaking them. A reporter will risk his life in a war zone but turn into a pansy and avoid reporting on global food distribution cartels or forced cash crop agriculture for the repayment of World Bank loans, etc. Conspiracy reporters such as Alex Jones and Jessie Ventura are labeled fringe dwellers. Books come out that tell the truth, but are not widely read or reviewed. Consequently the mainstream press is in a crisis of loss of viewers and readers and is considered a dinasaur institution. People want to know and they are getting their news off the Internet where one can compare different points of view rather than being exposed exclusively to a regional monopoly via a single major newspaper or TV news station, they being essentially reporting the same stories in the same manner only using different talking heads.
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          Sep 11 2011: Would you agree that we are still experiencing a serious void in information or at least credible information? I love having access to the internet but often feel that there is no way to verify the stories which are being reported. I often check on the BBC site to learn about things that are happening in North America or even in China.
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      Sep 11 2011: Democracy depends on free and independent information. Otherwise it’s an illusion.
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        Sep 11 2011: I think you have hit the nail on the head and expressed my deep concerns better than I could myself. Democracy is in real trouble because of the pervasiveness of the PR machines which are actively shaping and steering public debate. People are being convinced with tricks and lies to ask for and cooperate with programs that are truly against the interests of 'we the people'.
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          Sep 11 2011: Debra what I see is a strong and deep "infoxication". This is a very serious social ill. So the question is "Do we need more or less information, or better or worst information.?
          The "infoxication " concept we used to study the amount of usless data that runs in the cibernet, we study this kind of issues to determinate the status of credibility in the Roman Catholic World. Remember that I work inside the Vatican and I am in the vortex of one of the higher and complex information organizations in the world.
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        Sep 11 2011: Debra, There wasn't a link to Reply to your last post to me since it appears that this forum is set up for only so many replies, so I'll use Franz' comment to answer you.

        Yes, the void in information we are experiencing is crippling. Not because the info isn't out there, but that we just don't have the cognitive interpretive framework to know where to look. I have found that a good news blog with comments is very valuable. Often knowledgeable people will post informative comments with links to their sources. I'm a leftist, but get most of my news from right wing news blogs because I already know what leftists are thinking and I need to look at issues from all sides, even the conspiratorialist side. I've studied conspiracy theory for 40 years and can separate the relevant info from the disinfo. It takes time to be able to do this but the rewards are worth the effort. The bad guys work hard to camouflage their mischief. My old "Psyops" web site might be a place to start:
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          Sep 11 2011: Thanks Walter, I will check it out.
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        Sep 12 2011: @ Luigi,
        Do you believe that you have access to good or better information in the position you hold, Luigi? Does your training and your access allow you to get a better perspective on world events? If so, how do the rest of us gain a better vantage point than our societies normally offer us? I look forward to learning more from you too.
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          Sep 13 2011: Debra maybe not always better, but wider.Our perspective, or more accuratelly "the perspective" is historical...we have more than 1700 years handling the "truth" (whatever means that) and our capabilities in the technological stream and flow are really over any information status. Of course this meaning something in the world.
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        Sep 13 2011: In many instances wider information is better information because it gives more data points with which to construct a world view and an opinion. I agree that 'truth' can be a tricky concept as Michael M. mentions above but with more facts I feel more secure in the 'truth' that I extrapolate for myself and the conclusions I draw. Historical perspective is very important because a set of facts really means very little until you take the context of those facts into account. Thanks for sharing your world with us.
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          Sep 13 2011: Debra...the amount of data is really overwhelming any sistem...but we dont want just data...we transform data in information, and information in some sort of knowledge. The main thing is knowledge. From this to truth is a shorter way. But from data is really longer .
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        Sep 13 2011: Thanks for that clarification, Luigi. I love the way you and Jaime use words with such precision. I have much to learn from your use of language. You are, of course, absolutely right in pointing out that information not just data leads to knowledge and then hopefully to truth.
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    Sep 10 2011: The media chooses not to inform but to entertain the public. There is a nice TED talk on that theme where it is made visible what news is about. All events in the world were overshadowed in the US by an item over a celebrity.
    I watch TV over the satellite and as I see the Russian, Chinese, European news or CNN and Al Jazeera it is clear that the Western world is kept ignorant.
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      Sep 10 2011: Thanks for reminding me of Aliissa's talk, Frans! I have added it above in related talks.
      Is the central problem that we want to be entertained to death rather than have the truth?
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      Sep 11 2011: I am with you all the way. The bottom line must be the dollar.
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    Sep 24 2011: So...where is the truth?
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    Sep 24 2011: Here is one journalist (and there are probably many more out there) who is really fighting to bring a balanced perspective to the American political landscape. His name is Paul Krugman.

    (and thanks for this link to Lindsay who displayed it on her vital TED question: Who is above the law?)
  • Sep 24 2011: Why are more people coming to the realization that everyone has a bias without acknowledging that it is ubiquitous? There is no such thing as a unbiased journalist save for perhaps an A. I. reporter. Your questions are also ironically bias. You carry a bias that journalists "do not check out the facts and uncover the truth."

    Why is it that Wikileaks had to bring us the truth instead of journalists?
    Because journalists choose to not do illegal things? I mean wiki-leaks is great and all, but you can't ask journalists to risk imprisonment to steal copies of documents.

    Why is it that the news is so edited that we need TEDster Julia Bacha, a Brazilian film maker to tell us about the nonviolent actions of the Palestinians? Because 1. you have the bias that Ted is not a media source or outlet or more importantly that the internet isn't a media source for journalists. 2. you already carry the bias that news is intentionally edited to leave out positive.( 3. Lastly you do not include amateur journalists such as bloggers and random people reporting from hot spots like Iran.

    Bias is everywhere including this post. Learn about it, realize it, then cope with it. Listen to many different variety of sources, different biases, the many many sides of a conflict, and accept the fact that anyone can be wrong/lying/stupid or limited in their sources.
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      Sep 24 2011: Thanks Thang Tran for a very informative post. It is confrontational and really helpful at the same time. Maybe you are an investigative journalist! That we all have bias is simply a given. I have an MA in psychology and that is just fundamental.

      I think you might be mistaken about Wikileaks stealing documents but I have no proof of that. My understanding is that they publish the documents that are brought to them once they are vetted. Many many whistle blowers have tried to get the information that they have out only to have a variety of corporate and government pressures applied to main stream media so that no one word ever saw the light of day. Truth has been held captive.

      I am not sure why you included the video that I posted in my introduction box but it is always great to have my argument supported and another way to get to that superlative talk.

      Your best point is that i do not include amateur journalists. As a blogger myself, I do think that regular people are making a wonderful contribution to getting the truth out there. During the G8/G20 in Toronto, amateur video held a government and a police force to a higher standard of truth and in my opinion made my country a better place.

      I just finished an MBA where I got a chance to see what companies think is good business. I learned a lot about pharmaceutical companies, their practices and their injustice and they were not the only corporations doing heinous things. Most of it was nicely smoothed away by PR and big bucks but the people whose lives are destroyed never quite go back together in the same way in health, community or prosperity.

      I think you might actually have some important things to teach me so I invite you to come back and treat me as a friend and a fellow learner. I will listen and respond.
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    Sep 23 2011: A postscript to my own most recent post coincidence there is an excellent and I would say balanced article on SAGD in today's Huffington Post

    To be fair..I have to say that when there is coverage on something I am researching at Huffington, it is ballanced and quotes expert sources on both sides. This timely article lest any who cares to listen know that the political deadline for approval of the US side of the Keystone Pipeline is Nov 1.

    .A chance for some internet supported direct democracy?

    Also I saw and will bring here an excellent post on Oil from grad students at the New School. Voices like theirs are important when it so hard to find truly neutral and/or balalnced reporting of key issues.. We should read and encourage input like this from the academic sector.
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      Sep 24 2011: This is a very interesting article. The best part was the actual video that demonstrated the route that the pipeline will take and the fact that it is (at my guess) 9/10ths in America. I have not really been following this debate as it originates in Alberta which is far from my home and the most Republican leaning province of Canada and mostly affects the United States.

      Here are questions I would ask though, Is it preferable for oil to travel from the middle east over all of our oceans? Is this another example of NIMBA (not in my back yard?) Of course the solution is to get off oil. That is not happening immediately by anyone's prediction is it? We are all being held hostage and feeding the terrors in the middle east by buying oil there. It is clear that until now we have been enriching the very forces who utterly object to our way of life.

      As a practical matter, is some improvement on several world issues better than no improvement? Is buying our oil and gas from a neighbour and seeing its real impact on the planet and on our economies better than pretending we are not doing such damage elsewhere? Is adding shipping costs to drag it from the middle east good for anyone but the ship owners?

      BUT- this is a great example of how having the information at least allows for public dialogue and allows us to ask questions and hopefully get answers.
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    Sep 17 2011: Here is one more talk from TED that is doing the job of investigative reporters. Thank you TED and thank you Jehane Noujaim.
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    Sep 13 2011: Well this is more evidence of what TED does for me and for the world!

    Here is a TED talk of an amazing JOURNALIST: Misha Glenny is one of those people I have been asking for!

    His bio from TED:
    In minute detail, Misha Glenny's 2008 book McMafia illuminates the byzantine outlines of global organized crime. Whether it's pot smugglers in British Columbia, oil/weapons/people traffickers in Eastern Europe, Japanese yakuza or Nigerian scammers, to research this magisterial work Glenny penetrated the convoluted, globalized and franchised modern underworld -- often at considerable personal risk.

    The book that resulted is an exhaustive look at an unseen industry that Glenny believes may account for 15% of the world's GDP. Legal society ignores this world at its peril, but Glenny suggests that conventional law enforcement might not be able to combat a problem whose roots lie in global instability.

    While covering the Central Europe beat for the Guardian and the BBC, Glenny wrote several acclaimed books on the fall of Yugoslavia and the rise of the Balkan nations. He's researching a new book on cybercrime, of which he says: "The key to cybercrime is what we call social engineering. Or to use the technical term for it, there's one born every minute."
    Watch TED's exclusive video Q&A with Glenny: "Behind the Scenes of McMafia" >>
    "Glenny is not afraid to put himself in threatening situations -- one imagines his name is conspicuously absent from the Christmascard list of the world's major criminals."
    The Observer
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    Sep 13 2011: Rupert Murdoch is not a the top of anything. He is just a rich patron who control some media but no more. His "empire" is funny and a hilarious example of some manipulation techinques, really bad managed and with worst results. The financial status in the account bank of Mr. Murdoch doesnt mean anything in the real information that occurs without notice.
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      Sep 13 2011: Rupert Murdoch may not be the top of anything Luigi, but his influence and the influence of men like him in editing, deleting and choosing the news to which millions of people have access is very detrimental to society. By acting to direct the attention of millions of people he gets to choose what is considered important and what goes unnoticed or neglected. If only one side of a war gets 'good' press the other is automatically the underdog or villan. If one political party is consistently shown with a halo the other is demonized. If we do not bother to tell the world when the children of one religious group are starving, the people of that group are more and more demoralized and defeated by callous disregard and the polarization of peoples is increased.
      So much news appears to be happening unnoticed as you point out. Why do we need a Brazilian film maker (thank goodness for her) to tell us that the people of Palestine really are trying non-violent approaches? Are there no reporters in Palestine to see this same story or are they too cut off at the knees or edited out of a job when they report perspectives that go against powerful political interests?
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        Sep 13 2011: The influence has a real name...believing

        The influented people are Murdoch believers,,,,so stop believing lies trough a critical aproach to news.
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          Sep 13 2011: Luigi, I think that most societies are in a crisis of non-belief. They have been disillusioned by so many institutions, governments and people that they are hesitant to believe anything. When they do, it becomes a sort of blind faith which refuses to consider anything that can erode their confidence in the object of their belief because they have decided to construct their world view upon it.

          Having a critical approach to news is sensible but if you have no way of gaining objective information what does an average person with many other responsibilities do? We are so specialized in our labours today that few people have the time or inclination to ferret out facts and just have to accept that they will never know enough to be truly informed.
  • Sep 12 2011: Sorry Debra but I cannot take you seriously.

    In one post you write “It is my hope that some enterprising journalists will get a clue to the great need that they could fill, the heroism and the great hope that they represent.”

    In another post I write “What incentive is there for them to stick out their own necks?”

    You respond “I was not trying to share new information Richard but rather to see if the fine minds here on TED could add to my own understanding of the issues involved.”

    There are other examples where you are advocating an all care but no responsibility approach.
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      Sep 12 2011: Dear Richard,
      Funny but I never aspired to have you 'take me seriously'' per se. As the mom of 5 adults, as a professional and as a TED member, I take my responsibilities seriously and live them. When I walk into a hospital which is closed because of quarantine to do my job I take my own measured risk for humanity. What is it that you would have me do differently or is it just fun to throw stones at people here? Can you enlighten me and teach me with your superior example? I am dying to hear you blow your own horn about your own good works. I write several blogs to pass along all of the credible information I find. I hope this meets your high standards of responsibility.

      PS In answer to your question of what I would have reporters do- I want them to do their job and not just print articles based on propaganda from PR reports given to them with PR executives who just wined and dined them. I want them to do exactly what the courageous ones who went into the history books did- ferret out facts like they did about Watergate, Vietnam, WW1 and WW2. I want Whistleblowers and places that have the courage to tell the truth like Wikileaks to have public support instead of being trashed at the behest of corporate and government interests. I want us as citizens to have some guts. Each part of society has obligations and responsibility to the others. Without a free and impartial press we are all at risk.
      • Sep 12 2011: Debra,

        I did not ask you what you would have reporters do. Neither did I ask you to blow your horn. I thought you were contrary and ambivalent.

        When you did blow your horn you wrote that you take your own “… measured risk for humanity.” Very reasonable, yet in answer to the question I did not ask, you actually do expect so much more heroics from others. People really can have their professions terminated and their lives ruined by sticking their neck out and whistleblowing even when they are entirely right to do so.

        You literally did write that you wanted to hear me blow my horn. It goes like this. I think the many people take their own “measured risk for humanity” and are stuck in the same plight. I actually agree with you about the nature of journalism, as very many people do. However, I think that those who accept the higher responsibilities, money, kudos and other benefits that go with it should show more responsibility for the problem than their underlings. That is something you almost eluded too when provoked. However, it is outrageously harsh to imply that journalists in general are spineless, self-indulgent and lazy by nature. Rupert Murdoch, for example, is at the top and he is one of the big reasons for poor journalism.
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          Sep 12 2011: In the past, many reporters with the same odds against them had the courage to fill a vital role for our societies. Yes, I am hoping for heroics from people in particular places and at particular times because others have demonstrated such courage. I am simply trumpeting the need for this in light of much that I am reading and learning of the growth and effectiveness of the PR industry. Another related issue is that news has become a business at the hands of men like Rupert Murdoch.
          The world remains the same when no one takes the risk for truth. No one has the right to demand that someone else take those risks but I do have the right to make is clear that I believe that it is a noble and worthwhile course of action. I have taken and paid the price for my exposition of truth in my own area of life. I am OK with the price I paid. AS to incentives: not everything in life is based on capitalistic concepts. There are people who do what is right because it is right. You might not understand that if you have been waiting to make a difference with 'adequate incentive'.
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          Sep 12 2011: Perhaps we could both learn from Tim Harford's talk.

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          Sep 12 2011: Could I ask you to delete this duplicate posting please?
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      Sep 11 2011: My deep concern is that PR which is just another word for propaganda took many of its approaches from psychology and from principles of mass influence. PR professionals established their craft and one of the founders of the field of PR, Benay's (Freud"s nephew) books were even used by Nazi propaganists. If we ever doubt how powerful PR propaganda can be - all we have to do it to look at how Hitler galvanized a nation to do such heinous actions.
      No population is equipped to deal with such intentional influence. We are too vulnerable to governmental or corporate messages. Without investigative journalists independently providing their duty as the fourth estate, there is no major societal force to counteract the things that are killing humanity such as the tobacco industry, the war machines and even HMOs in the US. The book Deadly Spin details how hard the HMOs worked to create distraction and disinformation while gutting the US healthcare debate and denying people their rightful healthcare.
      An individual can hardly investigate the reality behind all of the spin that is being produced in the name of profit.
      • Sep 11 2011: But most of us really already know that.

        "We need to call out more and more loudly for this type of journalism." What incentive is there for them to stick out there own necks?

        It is not quite that gloomy. You have derived the conversation form a talk doing otherwise and there are a number of brave people with the ability. As for the tobacco industry, the Australian government is in the process is introducing plain packaging which has the industry very worried and may set a precedent for other governments.
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          Sep 12 2011: I was not trying to share new information Richard but rather to see if the fine minds here on TED could add to my own understanding of the issues involved. I love to learn from you and from others and even your story about the tobacco packaging is interesting to me. Unfortunately, the most important thing my MBA did for me was to make me aware of just how far companies go to make and ensure their profit. Tobacco companies simply took the lessons from first world countries when legislation came in and turned their defeats into propaganda against kids in developing nations - with complete knowledge of what they were doing to other human beings. I think these will someday be called what they are- crimes against humanity.
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      Sep 11 2011: Thanks for the illustrative link.
      I especially enjoyed the final information that the whole thing was a hoax.
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    Sep 10 2011: Debra, carissima, always you with the topic in the oven, Truth, media, information, knowledge, data, news, papers, cibermedia, journalism, leaks and wikileaks....and all the technological parafernalia that make a great complexity in the social behavior by the consumption of media trash.

    Where you can find the truth, the real one?...inside you or outside?. Myabe both sides, but with the use of criteria to research and discover...yes discover what is undercover. We can invent something similar to the truth, but not always we can support a lie. Of course that Frans is absolutely right...we in the western world are ignorant and the worst is with a very eroded capabilities to express something, becausesome burglair have took our lenguage. We ost the world when we lost the lenguage.
    • Sep 12 2011: I agree with you Luigi in one sense. We seem to not take words seriously enough. But beyond that, when we allowed everyone to construct their own truth and then allow and call that truth to be of equal value with all truths, we lost our foothold.

      We cannot expect people in the media to be anything else...we have lost our ground to find and investigate.
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    Sep 10 2011: I still feel like there journalist, but you are right the format has changed. Newspaper are dying and TV is a joke but there are many interesting documentaries and books out there. It's funny but for all the talk about how ADD everyone is now, I do see a trend in longer forms of journalism. Reading a paper every day even a good one with a dozen or so separate topics seems so disorganized compared with reading a book or watching a documentary on a giving topic and then having the chance to digest it.

    Also as an aside a while back I went on a bike tour of Bogata. Turns out the guy leading the tour was a former journalist who covered most of S America at one time or another. Well it's sad he can't make a living doing journalism is a conventional way, he was still overflowing with information on all the social problems down there and had some great perspectives on it that he was able to share. So yes the format may be changing but we can still spread information.
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      Sep 10 2011: Great points about books and documentaries, Anthony! I find that I get a lot of education from those two sources. Perhaps some of our need for truth is satisfied by the fact that we can almost instantly see video from around the world but as the talk referred to above by Alissa Miller demonstrates, the editing of the news still keeps so many people in the dark. Here's hoping that your journalist bike tour guide gets a chance to share so much more of his experience with a book deal.
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        Sep 11 2011: Well yes It would be great if we had credible news in a traditional package, but I really don't know what can be done to remedy this. Julie Bacha mentions we have to notice peace when it happens. I think we have to extend this idea. We can all complain that the news is declining in quality, but we can also shift the narrative. We can redefine what is news. News does not have to be what is discussed around an anchors desk. There is plenty of means for staying informed and the best way to fight the six o'clock propaganda is to recognize journalism even when it is dressed in new clothes.
  • Sep 10 2011: It's because you can find a lot of formerly concealed information online, without any serious investigation. Investigative journalism has now been replaced by gonzo media and web leaks.
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      Sep 10 2011: Interesting point, Nikita. There is so much information on line but there is a correlated problem. Much of what is on the internet is questionable and sometimes inflammatory. For example. if you enter 'vaccinations' into Google the majority of the items that pop up are not credible. Fear mongering is rampant. Years after the information which caused such a panic against vaccinations was discredited, completely proven to have been falsified, the sites are still propagandizing against one of the best things that we can do for children and for society.

      I am hoping that we will see a resurgence of the type of truth seekers and intrepid fearless journalists who once blew the liars in the public arena out of the water with words and facts.