Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Blogging: The Opinion Explosion

Today there was a lively discussion on National Public Radio about news, and the great enormity of it, and how news reporting is changing. It used to be, so they said, that news reporters reported the facts, as best they could find the information, and they kept their opinions to themselves. The goal was objectivity.

Hmmmmm. In the US, it seems to me we had an entire period when the press was seen as “muckracking” or seeking scandal. The tabloids have always been with us. Even in the HBO TV series Rome, there were cartoons on the wall, a sort of primitive newspaper, entertaining, whether true or not-true.

So my speculation would be that as objective and fair (or as Fox puts it “fair and balanced” reporting which totally makes me want to throw up because FOX is SO SO slanted) as we would like to think our news is, bias has always crept in, and it is always a case of caveat emptor when it comes to news.

Here were some priceless quotes and ideas from the today’s NPR discussion:

“Not everyone’s experience is that interesting.”

Two rules for basic research:

1) Not every authority is right. Don’t believe someone just because they claim “authority”. Authorities can be wrong.

2) Just because you agree with an authoritie’s opinion does not make it true.

When you blog, podcast, SMS, etc. information, be sure to give your source of information and some evaluation of how reliable that source is likely to be.

Wikipedia is not necessarily a reliable source to be quoting. You have to double check the sources of information there, too.

My favorite piece of verbiage: We are experiencing a cacaphony of unfiltered information.

My comment: It’s exciting to hear people discuss the new ways in which we are getting – and sharing – news/information. I was in traffic, trying desperately to write phrases and ideas down at every red light. (How often do you say “alhamdallah” for the red lights??) We have access to so much more information, but how much of it is “hard” and how much is opinion? I love hearing people discussing information and dissemination of information, and how it is changing our lives.

And how much harder it is for any nation to keep a big secret – the containment walls have become more porous, information seeps through. Cell phones transmit real time dramas, bloggers share information (and misinformation), news can be SMS’d before it hits the airwaves by official sources. Governments which like to control information are fighting a losing battle, and it will increasingly change the faces of government (oops, my opinion!).

As our actions become increasingly public (cameras tracking vehicles, bank withdrawals, parking lots, cell phones broadcasting private moments, etc) we will all become, privately and publicly, increasingly accountable. (I am extrapolating here!) What an interesting new world . . .

January 5, 2007 - Posted by | Blogging, Communication, Cross Cultural, Generational, Language, News, Political Issues, Words


  1. By the way, Rome starts next week hehe 😛 I think Next week or the week after hehe and I just can’t wait for it! I think we need to sit and re-watch season 1 to remind ourselves of everything.

    Comment by Jackie | January 5, 2007 | Reply

  2. i would look at whats happening as a valid dimension of reality!!

    Comment by error | January 5, 2007 | Reply

  3. Jackie – oh what fun – reviewing Rome I so we can be caught up for Rome 2. Wonder where they will start – our main characters were pretty devastated at the end of Rome 1.

    Error . . . whose definition of reality? We each have our filters. Your perception of reality could be very different from mine, or Jewaira’s, or Purg’s, or Don Veto’s, or Jackie’s, or . . . .

    Comment by intlxpatr | January 5, 2007 | Reply

  4. they’re all true!!

    Comment by error | January 5, 2007 | Reply

  5. Error: Hmmmm. . . Yeh. . . OK. I get it.

    Comment by intlxpatr | January 6, 2007 | Reply

  6. What an interesting post. I really like shows on how media is changing the world. I miss Fox TV even though I think it’s the American version of Jazeera (a channel I absolutely hate). But it’s kinda fun watching how dramatic everything is it’s almost like a soap opera.

    I recall being told ages ago not to beleive everything written in newspapers. Seriously sometimes writers can be so full of it, speaking of a law or something and no one tells them YOU CANT WRITE THAT ITS JUST NOT TRUE! And the thing that pisses me off is that sometimes they make mistakes when its SO EASY to check if it’s true or not! It just means they wrote the article without bothering with much research! Nowadays even newspapers that have a lot if integrity and history sometimes screw up in their choice of writers.

    Comment by 1001 Nights | January 6, 2007 | Reply

  7. Zin – Amen, sister! What I hate even more is people who SEEM to be objective, but have an underlying agenda. I find that I watch Al Jazeera, Al Arabbia, and some of the Lebanese stations just to get another perspective . . . eventually, with enough pieces, maybe the true picture will come clear.

    Comment by intlxpatr | January 6, 2007 | Reply

  8. 1) I don’t get HBO. How the heck can I watch Rome 1 and 2. Wonder if it’s on DVD…
    2) Totally agree. You can tell the truth, but the words you choose, your tone, all can influence how it’s taken. I love NPR, but recognize that some people see it witht he same jaundiced eye with which I view Fox’s Bill O’Reilly. I just happen to agree with NPR, so I like it and listen to it. I don’t think Fox even bothers to try to start with the truth (famous example of O’Reilly Report breaking the story about pedophile Mark Foley and labelling his picture as D-FL. The sheer nerve!)

    Comment by Riannan | January 13, 2007 | Reply

  9. Riannan – love your blog! Rome 1 is out on DVD, the whole first season. We don’t get HBO in Kuwait, so I am waiting to see season 2 on DVD – maybe next summer.

    I guess I forgive NPR their bias because they are always so earnest, while O’Reilly is just out and out obnoxious! At least Blogs are expected to be opinionated, so we are safe . . . and still need to mention our resources, as you always do.

    Comment by intlxpatr | January 13, 2007 | Reply

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