Sunday, March 02, 2008

Media and information

From Ethan Zuckerman's post Ted2008: Alisa Miller on Media Attention:
"The map is striking, and gets a round of applause immediately. It’s dominated by the US - which got 79% of news minutes - and by Iraq. Attention to India, Russia and China totalled less than 1% of stories. She points out that there were amazing international stories, including Indonesian flooding, international evidence of global warming, North Korean nuclear crises… and basically nothing but Iraq got picked up.
....Unfortunately, Miller sees similarities in internet news as well - the top 24 stories on network news were the same ones studies saw on Google and Yahoo News."
Here is Alisa Miller's presentation. This type of distortion seems naural, for example, I would guess that India's small farmers will be more concerned with and have time only news about weather, prizes of seeds, pesticides, government programmes etc than global news even if it affects them sooner or later. What is more worrying is too much information, wrong information, conflicting information or information to promote policies of interest to certain groups. Even internet and blogs do not seem to be free from this. Chris Blattman's post The Bloggy Way links a picture in which there are a few thousand core blogs (Chris Blattman changes this to 'about a thousand')and other blogging communities connect to the core in one-way links. Zuckerman has also another post in his wonderful Ted 2008 posts about 'how much do people trust the media, old or new, and how does the media shape our view of the world.' Daniel Gilbert has an interesting comment:
"Gilbert is worried about people’s capacity to consume bad news. He offers an analogy to people’s eating habits: We know people have an unlimited appetite for fat and sugar. We evolved that way. We don’t want to take away anyone’s right to make high-fat icecream. The government has tried to level the playing field - information labels on food. We need to do as much for our information diet as we do for our physical diet. (This is an excellent idea, and something we’re trying to do at Berkman in the next few months - stay tuned.)"

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