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Dave Winer
Josh Young, on Twitter, would like us to discuss how, when "Sources Go Direct," we will be able to tell truth from deceit. Here's a link to his twit.
To which I said, it doesn't seem like a question, more like a pointed comment. That there's a belief behind the question that it won't be possible to do so, and that's why we must not... and that's where I drift off in confusion. I'm not advocating something as much as I'm observing. If I thought the 20th century model for news was viable, I'd STF up about the new ways news is flowing. But I see myself more describing what happens with the rainfall on the mountains. I can't influence which way the water flows, but I can, if I see how it works, advise the people with the resources to "build a dam here" because I think it will work. - Dave Winer
ChandersI would like to third @jny2 suggestion for @jayrosen_nyu & @davewiner at "rebooting the news" - Jay Rosen
This fallacy happens in the tech business all the time. On mail lists where you discuss new formats and protocols, they "decide" that everyone will, from now on, do things the way they say. They even get so far as to ratify these things, publish the spec and then well What Next? How will we tell everyone that they must now do what we say? Nothing ever comes of this. - Dave Winer
Now, with all that preamble, I suspect we will tell deceit from truth the same way reporters do now. Badly. :-) - Dave Winer
I think it's a good question. Very worthy of our talents and critical to our subject: re-booting the news. And since it's the first, last and really only question journalists ever ask about "sources going direct," we should work up some pretty good answers. Now one of my replies would be: how is that done now, in the "traditional" systems where sources speak through reporters? How is deceit from sources handled? And if deceit somehow gets through the filter and is dumped on readers, how do they handle? - Jay Rosen
There is one other interest I have heard pro journalists express about sources going direct (besides: "sources lie, spin and puff themselves up, and this is what we want the news to be?...") and that is to patiently explain to us that they don't think such a system can REPLACE the news system we have now, and that they wish to disagree with the many, many voices that have been raised in support of the "can replace" hypothesis. These people I call Replaceniks. - Jay Rosen
If journalism is the patient many people are trying to save, then the noises that come from the Replaceniks' performances are an hysterical symptom, a bizarre acting out of other fears and fantasies. Those fears and fantasies may be relevant to the challenge of re-booting professional journalism, if we could ever discuss them directly, but the discourse the Replaceniks wish to have is distracting in the extreme. A troll's paradise. - Jay Rosen
I'm not a doctor, and I'm not interested in saving the twentieth centery per se. This question may be complex, but it doesn't have to be intractable or fraught with outmoded assumptions. It just seems wildly pluasible to me that there's an important role to be played between sources within a story and others who are not souces within that given story. The intermediating role may be relatively diminished in the future, but it doesn't seem likely to vanish altogether. Even open systems need verifiers and third-party synthesizers, no? - Josh Young
Think of journalists like police (though please do squint seriously with your mind's eye). When citizens play together nicely, no one needs a cop around, monitoring the scene for abuse. But we like police because if a problem does arise, they have codes, rules, and laws that tell them how to adjudicate between citizens and their problems. Imporantly, then, the mere threat of the police prevents many problems from arising in the first place. Police get their authority largely for free--by fiat of the rule of law. Journalists aren't so lucky. They have to cobble together their own credibilty. It's possible, I suppose, that earning that kind of credibilty or authority is impossible in an open system, and it's possible that credibilty can only be wielded by amateurs, who do it for love not money. But given the time and resources it takes to adjudicate disputes between different sources going direct, my guess is that there's a business lurking somewhere here. - Josh Young
I think there have to be filters, for sure. Filters, curating, editing, verification: different names for different parts. Whatever we call it, how those things get done is to me crucial, which is why I said I think your question is a good question, Josh. What we have now is a completely dysfunctional conversation focused on 1.) "OMG, OMG sources have agendas!!@!!!&^&%$#@ and 2.) Replacenik performance art. As long as we can ditch both 1.) and 2.), we're fine. - Jay Rosen
"There's an important role to be played between sources within a story and others who are not souces within that given story.. Even open systems need verifiers and third-party synthesizers, no?" With both statements I couldn't agree more, Josh. - Jay Rosen
It used to be easy to demo Technorati to J-Profs and others who asked the same question, which, around 2006, was: "Hey, so how do you know what all these bloggers are saying is accurate?" I'd fire up Technorati and say "Hey, so I can tell you how many people think they're accurate. If it's in the thousands, I'm willing to bet on the hive mind, generally. If it's in the single digits, I might need to verify with someone else, just like I would if I were writing a story." - Ryan Sholin
Nowadays, it's easier to show off a social filtering system, like FriendFeed or Twitter, and say, hey, I've manually assembled this collection of sources I trust. Hand-picked. By me. Soylent green is made of people, rinse, repeat..." - Ryan Sholin
One obvious problem - in the current system and potentially in Daves "direct" NYT system - is that decisions about which sources to include are made for reasons exterior to credibility. Sources with credibility issues - those who are known dissemblers and those who lack insight into the given topic (and those who meet both criteria like Newt Gingrich) - are given access because they represent powerful constituencies, factions and/or audiences that the news organization can't afford to piss off. - gnarlytrombone
@gnarlytrombone So Newt Gingrich gets his own blog at the NYT, in Dave's repeated vision, and is subject to the same organic, open process as every other source. - Ryan Sholin
My only criteria is that if they're good enough to get quoted in the Times they can have a blog. You guys underestimate people's bullshit detectors. We don't need anyone to hold our hands, we suspect everything we read in the paper and hear on radio or TV no matter who's saying it. Even well-intentioned people lie deliberately sometimes and often unintentionally. - Dave Winer
Right. But what then is the point of the "Times?" Isn't that just a brand name for a closed system of "editorial judgment," whether that judgment lies in selecting sources for an article or in selecting sources to blog? - gnarlytrombone
It's worth noting that wrongly detecting non-existent bullshit is probably approximately as harmful as missing it. False positives are bad too. Trust is (obviously) critically important, since it's what helps protect against the false bullshit positives, and third-parties who report, verify, synthesize, filter, curate, etc., multiple stories over time seem like great resources for building that trust. Okay, so we have a value proposition--now is there a business model? Or is this not a sufficiently general or tractable way of framing the problem--or at least of beginning to frame the problem? - Josh Young