New media and old
Dr. Sanity has some interesting commentary on a post by Wretchard about the influence of the new media--blogs and other alternative news sources--on our perceptions of truth.
I recommend both articles, but I wanted to add a few comments of my own on a related subject. This mulitiplication of sources of information, without the old authority bestowed by the credentials and reputation that used to be vested (rightly or wrongly) in the MSM, is often viewed by its critics as leading to more confusion and more disinformation. How, it is asked, is a person to know what truth is, when there are so many competing and unsubstantiated sources?
It's not a bad point to make. But my answer is that we can only gain by the fact that the new media tends to be upfront about its biases. That means a person can now read from many sources on different sides of the issue, and then weigh the accounts accordingly, taking into consideration the point of view of the person writing. This is far better than pretending to have no bias when in fact there is one, a flaw of much old media, in my opinion.
Still another advantage of the proliferation of new media is the increased ease the reader has in referring back to original sources. If, for example, one reads in a particular newspaper a report of a speech or news conference given by a politician or other public figure, in the olden days it was much harder to check the original (unless the newspaper happened to publish the full text, which was rare) to see if the report was accurate. All of us were far more dependent on the press as a filter of information, and far less aware of how that filter often actually worked to distort such information, sometimes profoundly.
Now, all that stands in our way is time. It takes time and effort to be a newschecker, much more time and effort than most people have or are willing to give. There is always more to read, more to know.
So, understanding that our information is always incomplete, and that total truth can never be known, I salute the new media's ability to let us get closer and closer to the best possible approximation of the truth. It's a big improvement over what we had before.