From John Lanchester's review of 'Flat Earth News':
"So only 12 per cent of what is in the papers consists of a story that a reporter has found out and pursued on her own initiative; and only 12 per cent of key facts are checked. The rest is all rewritten wire copy and PR. This remaining 88 per cent is, in Davies’s stinging coinage, ‘churnalism’. No wonder the papers feel a bit thin."
Science reporting does not seem to be exempt either; lot of it is coming from the publicity departments of universities and seems very thin based on few experiments with students or various type of scans.
From Charm Beats Accuracy:
"Why should we expect this to be any better for other kinds of news? If viewers can watch the same person day after day making predictions about something they care about and personally verify day after day, and still not care much about accuracy relative to looks and charm, how much can we really expect people to care about accuracy of news on unrest in Thailand, the credit crisis, or a new medical study? Can we really expect people to track the accuracy of advice from their doctors, lawyers, or interior decorators, relative to their looks, charm, and general impressiveness?"
From Monica Hesse's articleTruth: Can You Handle It?:
"Inhabitants of the Wiki-world, consider these random but related events, most of which pertain to the under-25 set, all of which occurred in the past six months:
The launching of Cumul.us, a wiki-weather site in which users can collaboratively decide whether it is raining outside.
The release of "True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society," Farhad Manjoo's exploration of the "cultural ascendancy of belief over fact."
The addition of "collateral misinformation" to UrbanDictionary.com. The entry: "When someone alters a Wikipedia article to win a specific argument, anyone who reads the false article before the 'error' is corrected suffers from collateral misinformation."
And a scholar at the Hoover Institution performed an experiment with totally unsurprising results: When 100 terms from U.S. history books were entered into Google, the topics' Wikipedia articles were the first hits 87 times.
All of these examples are signs of the times.
And all of them get at a big question: For the Google generation, what happens to the concepts of truth and knowledge in a user-generated world of information saturation?"
From the comments of Wikiality, or the Death of Libraries:
"Yes, BUT... books (or journal articles) are no guarantee of truth. Especially textbooks. And, as for "critical thinking", most students gather from it precisely enough technique to make them more critical of views they don't hold and thus more confident that their own prejudices are right."
And "I think the sad reality is that the human race may be no closer to the truth than when historians and textbook publishers had a monopoly on the info. I'm one of the most skeptical people I know, and I've been duped online more than once."
What is 'Wikiality? Apparently this term is due to Stephen Colbert for "a reality where, if enough people agree with a notion, it must be true."
P.S.According to Enrique Mendizabal at ODI blog a possible approach for reliable information in a complex world is 'think nets'.