The Value of Community and Multiple Sources

A friend mentioned to me today that it was important to get only the facts, a completely unbiased opinion straight from the source. That means turning to the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times in the case of media, or the Bible in the case of Christianity. This is as opposed to getting the news from individual sources, such as blogs with a feedreader such as Google Reader, and sites based on user-generated content, such as Slashdot.

In my view, we have held to a single source of information only because it was the sole practical way of getting information. We had a monarchy because there was simply no way for people to practically govern themselves. People are dependent on what technologies are available.


For the LA Times and NY Times, they write the news in one place, and then send it out to thousands upon thousands. This was the only practical way to do it at the time. There’s no way the individual people could select exactly what they want to read, and then have the newspaper only layout and print exactly what the reader wanted, and nothing more. That’s far too much customization for each person!

But that’s exactly what’s possible today. With a decent newsreader, all a person has to do is pick and choose his or her sources. From millions of blogs, there are some really good ones. They’re not just biased rants, either. They’re eyewitness news reports, pure facts and good writing that’s nothing short of traditional journalism. Of course, there are writers on the other end of the spectrum, including personal blogs, like mine here.

Personal blogs provide the specific insight and opinion necessary to make an informed decision. One could even argue that the old media was never fully unbiased to begin with, since that’s rather impossible. Today, we have the amazing opportunity to get lots of information in an organized fashion, and then derive our own opinions out of it. It’s truly a huge step forward in the democratization of the world.

Take Wikipedia. It’s entirely user-generated, but it has some of the best content in the world. There are errors, just like any other publication. But it’s democratic. The community makes decisions and figures out what stays and what goes. It’s factual. Any controversial information is tagged with a citation request, and many sources are included in the articles. Many people routinely use Wikipedia whenever they want to learn about something, and it has met their needs.

What do you think?

5 Responses to “The Value of Community and Multiple Sources”

  1. katy says:

    Traditional media, LA Times, New York Times, are certainly far from neutral. Just the fact that they have to pick and choose what to publish already shows a bias. I hope a balanced number of views are being published on the internet. Sometimes the minority views are more vocal, and the majority views are silent.

  2. Michael says:

    What a shock to hear the LA Times and New York Times described as un-bias. I always have to be careful to filter out the stories in the LA Times and look even between the lines to find the facts.

    There are no unbiased opinions and certainly the opinions held in the culture of Mass Media do not represent the general population. This is one major factor in why newspapers are out of favor as a source for news.

  3. Elliot Lee says:

    To be clear, my friend didn’t say those newspapers have unbiased opinions, but that the news articles (in the proper section of the paper) are made of facts.

  4. David says:

    Even the presentation of facts can be influenced by one’s biases and opinions. They determine what you choose to include in your report, and down to what you choose to lead with in your story. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to be completely unbiased. I think it’s fine as long as it is acknowledged.

  5. Luke says:

    Actually it happens an awful lot in the publishing of anything. I learned to do it in papers for class. Selectively providing my opinion or my data in such a manner as to return the “expected” response.

    Plus, as an editor for my school newspaper I very regularly changed the way a story was presented or pushed certain stories to be written in order to maintain a certain bias. For the first two years we were shills for the school, but for my last two years we made it our goal to attempt to show the flaws in the culture of our school and how the school did things. We were not overly critical, but we did attempt to bring both the good and the bad to the forefront. (And depending on my week sometimes a little more bad.)

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