Tuesday, March 08, 2005

spin doctor clam

Dr. Clam said
Although there are many layers of spin and dissimulation, I am going to go out on a limb on the basis of your other posting and say that we actually agree with each other!I think we are arguing about semantics
Well, yes, we are now arguing about semantics, but if we agreed then either I would stop accepting "the Economist" as a primary source of authority, or you would start to. Therefore there must be a point of disagreement - it just isn't very obvious. I am going to come up with another stupid analogy. If a set of referees was employed to referee a sports match, is it better to have a set from each of the two countries playing, or a set from neutral countries? Which one would judge the game more "correctly". Clearly, in sport it is of advantage for the referees to be disinterested in the result, because they have the power to affect the result somewhat. (I am making journalists the referees here, see) And although even the neutral umpires make mistakes, it wouldn't be a case of brinksmanship between the judges as to who can try to get away with the most biased calls. It would be much harder to tell which team was the best and fairest (or either or) if the referees from the playing countries took turns. This is why I think it important to find "disinterested" sources of journalism.

1 comment:

Dr. Clam said...

Clearly, there is only one international sporting contest of any interest, and it should employ two referees, one from New South Wales and one from Queensland. As those are the only two places in the world where anyone really plays the game anyway, this should not cause any great difficulty.

The trick is to understand the rules of the game as best you can and to watch it closely yourself: then you can tell if one of the referees is making biased calls or not. That is why I look for a narrative that is self-consistent (seems to obey the rules of the game), whether it is provided by a biased source or not.

My argument continue to be that there is no such thing as a neutral referee. Every news source is embedded in a particular culture and philosophy, and reliant to a extent on secondhand news from which it must make a selection. I think relying on a single primary source of news is dangerous. The most effective propaganda is to be absolutely disinterested and as objective as you can 99% of the time, except when it really counts.