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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

Normally it’s rather difficult to get the news media to lose their shit like a bunch of screeching schoolkids over a story like, “Defense Manufacturer Offers New Product That Makes Incremental Advances on Existing, Widely-Used Technology.” But fortunately for Israeli defense manufacturer Rafael, the maker of the Iron Dome short-range air defense system, reporters don’t always understand what it is they’re reporting on.

Ryan Faith

9 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Regional


    ‘reporters don’t always understand what it is they’re reporting on’


  • Regional

    A new derangement syndrome has appeared:
    Stolen from Tim Blair,
    ‘Climate scientists are cracking up:

    From depression to substance abuse to suicide and post-traumatic stress disorder, growing bodies of research in the relatively new field of psychology of global warming suggest that climate change will take a pretty heavy toll on the human psyche as storms become more destructive and droughts more prolonged. For your everyday environmentalist, the emotional stress suffered by a rapidly changing Earth can result in some pretty substantial anxieties …

    Lise Van Susteren, a forensic psychiatrist based in Washington, D.C. — and co-author of the National Wildlife Federation’s report — calls this emotional reaction “pre-traumatic stress disorder,” a term she coined to describe the mental anguish that results from preparing for the worst, before it actually happens’

  • Runcie Balspune

    As appropriate as it ever was.

  • Hamas’s trademark weapon, the Hamas Israeli Civilian Killing System (HICKS)

    I loled 😀

  • AndrewZ

    Most people have had the experience of reading a newspaper report about something that they know well and being shocked by how much the reporter has misunderstood or misrepresented. But the Internet now makes it easy to find informed commentary on just about any subject, so anybody who looks beyond the headlines will quickly discover how common that reaction is, even on the political and economic subjects that are supposed to be the media’s core area of expertise. It creates a preference cascade in favour of “oh, they really are that ignorant” which is fatal to the old media’s institutional authority.

  • RickC

    AndrewZ, This made me think of Michael Crichton’s description of what he labeled the Gell-Mann Amnesia: “Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.

    In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.”

  • Tedd

    Journalists are, literally, ignorant about most of the subjects they report on, but there’s a systemic cause for poor reporting, as well. The way the news cycle works, reporters have ridiculously little time to research and prepare a story, not enough to do a decent job even if they already knew the subject matter well. So the focus on “who’s first” rather than “who’s best” is a big part of the problem, and responsibility for that lies with the audience. Even on the internet, more people are interested in finding out about things quickly than finding out about them accurately. AndrewZ is correct that the internet makes it easier to inform oneself and thus spot flaws in reporting, but I would bet that only a tiny fraction of the population actually does that.

  • “…reporters don’t always understand what it is they’re reporting on.”

    As nice a piece of understatement has seldom been written. Considering what is being taught in the so-called “Schools of Journalism” these days — and more importantly, HOW it’s being taught — I am constantly reminded of the venerable university professor’s exclamation: “Journalism? But that’s no career for a university man!”

  • Jacob

    “…reporters don’t always understand what it is they’re reporting on.”
    And many times they DO understand, but post false or skewed reports anyway, to promote their beliefs, party or ideology.