What Elon Musk doesn’t understand about journalism – Thomas Malone

Thomas W. Malone Professor of Information Technology

From Salon

Elon Musk’s sometimes antagonistic relationship with the press is no secret. But last week, the billionaire chief executive of SpaceX and Tesla exhibited a new level of hostility.

In a series of tweets, Musk referred to journalists as “holier-than-thou” hypocrites, said that news organizations had lost their credibility and the respect of the public, and blamed the media for the election of President Trump.

Then things got interesting. Musk proposed creating a “media credibility rating site” where the public would be able to “rate the core truth of any article & track the credibility score over time of each journalist, editor & publication.” He suggested calling this site “Pravda”—the Russian word for “truth” and also the name of the longtime Communist newspaper. He likened the rating platform to Yelp for journalism.

Despite the bluster, Musk may be on to something. At a time when public trust in the media is at an all-time low, a reputation system that allows citizens to gauge the reliability and accuracy of news they consume could be a step in the right direction. Read More »

Are online news aggregators vampires? – Catherine Tucker

MIT Sloan Professor Catherine Tucker

MIT Sloan Professor Catherine Tucker

It isn’t often that an MIT Professor studies “vampire” like entities. However, that is exactly how news aggregators such as Huffington Post and Google News have been described by Mark Cuban of Shark Tank fame.

The reason that Mr. Cuban thinks that aggregators deserve dracula-like appelations is that as he expresses – “Don’t let them suck your blood. Vampires take, but don’t give anything back.” In other words if you produce content the work of such news aggregators is viewed as been purely parasitic.

However, in a recent study I have shown that aggregators are not the blood suckers of the media industry that some have thought they were.

The study focuses on the 2010 showdown between Google News and the Associated Press over digital aggregation of news content by the Google platform. In January 2010, after a breakdown in licensing negotiations, Google News removed from its platform all news articles by the Associated Press, a media consortium that produces and shares news stories among its media members, including both large and small newspapers in the U.S.

The dispute lasted only a few months, but it provided a terrific opportunity to gauge how online traffic is impacted by the inclusion, then exclusion, of aggregated online content on a platform.

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Media bias and terrorism coverage – Neal Hartman

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Neal Hartman

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Neal Hartman

From The Huffington Post

What’s in a word? More precisely, what’s in three words: “radical Islamic terrorist.”

These words seem to be imbued with a strange power. By not uttering them, according to various Republicans, President Obama is losing the war on terrorism. Obama, on his part, has declined to use the three words together, insisting that the United States can’t be perceived as at war with the religion of Islam.

And there’s little the media loves more than a war of words – even if this squabble over semantics has, in fact, very little to do with parsing out the reasons for the horrific attack on an Orlando gay club, which left 49 people dead. The shooter, Omar Mateen, did pledge himself to ISIS, but other aspects of his life point to a troubled mind and history of violence.

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