Category Archives: News

The Media Bubble is Real — And Worse Than You Think

Politico takes a look at the Media Bubble that gave us the false impression that Trump couldn’t possibly win. The trends that created that bubble are still in place and the movement of jobs away from local news organizations to the Internet has done nothing to shrink it.

My local newspaper has shed jobs, pages and local content all the while pretending this isn’t happening. Whenever I actually pick up a copy to read I’m always struck by how much of the content is sourced from USA Today and other national news organizations. All of which are based securely in the Media Bubble.

How The Bizarre Conspiracy Theory Behind “Pizzagate” Was Spread

Let’s be honest with ourselves, the United States is clinically insane. Proof: “Pizzagate” claims that Democratic operatives placing orders at Comet Ping Pong were actually using code to talk about underage prostitutes.

In the past something this bizarre would simply be comedic fodder, but now it’s taken as truth to the point that someone would show up at Comet Ping Pong with an assault rifle to “self-investigate”. This country needs counseling and possibly medication.

Journalism’s delivery system, not the coverage itself, is broken – Columbia Journalism Review

Columbia Journalism Review believes that Journalism’s delivery system, not the coverage itself, is broken.

Let me make this point through an analogy. A trial usually consists two competing legal arguments, both grounded in facts, otherwise known as evidence. What if technology suddenly allowed 50 different lawyers to present competing narratives to the jury? And what if evidence requirements were eliminated, such that some of the lawyers presented their arguments based on traditional evidentiary standards, while others felt liberated to make things up. Would we blame the jury members if they were unable to render an informed verdict?

This analogy seems plausible on the surface, but the evidence requirements part is where it falls apart. During a trial lawyers present all kinds of evidence, including some that may or may not be true. When that happens and when that untruth is detected we don’t blame the court, we blame the lawyers who presented it. Those lawyers may face civil penalties as well as penalties from their bar association both of which will affect their ability to continue to work in law.

So I offer an alternative opinion: Journalism is broken, period. It missed the transition from a heavily-controlled trickle of information via print, television and radio to an uncontrolled torrent that the end-user gets to filter. Journalists are no longer in charge of determining what’s true and false, we are. If anything, the delivery system has never worked better in human history.

Should the Marathon bomber’s trial be held in Boston?

It’s not a question of guilt or innocence. There is ample evidence including (possibly) a confession. The real task of the jury in the Marathon bomber’s trial is determining whether or not he will be executed. Will they let their collective anger drive them or will they look at the evidence and the circumstances and decide? Is this something we can trust anyone from Boston to do?

I’ll be honest and say I don’t know and won’t even hazard a guess. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Angels of Death

On Christmas Eve of 2012, the Rochester area was rocked by the news of the shooting death of two volunteer firefighters as they arrived at the scene of house fire. The shooter, a convicted criminal who could not legally purchase or own guns was able to get his hands on them thanks to a woman willing to be a “straw purchaser” and buy the guns for him. He was killed during the police response and she was later caught and convicted in both federal and state court.

I’m sure a lot of folks around here assumed this was an isolated incident given NY’s fairly strict gun laws, but the truth is lots of young women make a living purchasing guns for those who legally can’t do so themselves. Many of the guns are purchased in Southern states with loose gun regulations and then resold in many Northeastern states, NY being one of the more frequent destinations.

When Your Comic Hero Is an Alleged Rapist

Bill Cosby was the first comedian I knew of as a comedian, not just some old guy telling corny jokes that my parents found funny. Like Doug McIntyre, my friends and I listened to everything that he did; I still use his “voopa voopa” sound to describe cutting wood with a hand saw.

But at some point, even us diehard fans have to deal with the fact that he is an alleged serial rapist.

I remember hearing about his marital infidelities and not thinking much about them. But repeated stories, all very similar, by women going back as far as 1969 of being drugged and raped are demanding of more reflection.

Cosby has been a frequent social critic, particularly in recent years, but has not shed a spotlight on his own behavior. It’s time for that to change. It’s time for Bill Cosby to confess and make amends to those whose lives he has permanently damaged. Then he needs to go away. He’s had a life and a career, two things denied to the women he raped. The world owes him nothing more.

For a Decade, G.M. Response to a Fatal Flaw Was to Shrug

I’ll be honest, the GM internal report of its failure to properly deal with the ignition switch problem on its cars is nothing short of infuriating. Despite multiple reports of accidents where the air bags did not deploy and the ignition was on “accessory”, GM was unable to understand it even had a problem. In the meantime, people died.

GM denies there was a coverup and has terminated a small number of employees, including the engineer who originally approved the defective ignition switches (and then later quietly replaced it with a properly-operating one). But the story isn’t “rogue employees” it’s a corporation where such behavior is possible. It’s what happens when the only way a mistake gets noticed is when it costs the company money.

Not mentioned in the article but worth considering is that the defect only affected low-end cars intended for young and less wealthy customers. One wonders if GM would have been as nonchalant had this affected Cadillacs.

90% of the workers fled Fukushima despite being ordered not to

Contradicting previous reports, 90% of the workers at Fukushima fled, including managers, despite being ordered not to. The previous story was they were told to evacuate, leaving a small crew to deal with the reactor meltdown.

TEPCO is still trying to spin this, claiming the order was “vaguely worded” but the (now deceased) plant manager expressed surprise that so many had left. Would it have made a difference?