Raising Barriers

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By our Swindon correspondent:

From The Guardian

A leading news organisation is calling for a digital “kitemarking” system online to distinguish between quality journalism and fake content – with internet companies facing penalties if they publish inaccurate information.

ITN, the maker of news for ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, says the coronavirus pandemic has revealed both the importance of “trustworthy and reliable information” and the dangers to democracy of fast-spreading misinformation.

In a submission to a House of Lords inquiry into the future of journalism, seen by the Observer, it says internet companies should face the same penalties as broadcasters and other quality news providers from regulatory bodies, such as Ofcom, if they let misinformation slip through the net.

Personally, I think it’s time to finish off Ofcom. I can see that when you have limited bandwidth of 3 or 4 TV channels and not much radio, you might want government regulating it for quality, but we now have digital TV and DAB with plenty of choices. Let there be Jesus and Guns TV and Quinoa and Marx Radio. And there’s what, thousands, tens of thousands of channels on YouTube? How many thousand podcasts?
This submission is, of course, all about money. Amongst the many complaints about Google and Facebook, Jon Snow rather gave the game away a few years ago:-
 
In fact, the duopoly of Facebook and Google has decimated the market in digital revenue that many hoped would sustain quality journalism for years to come. Now we all need to work together and find another way of supporting it, before it’s too late.
ITNs ad money is being taken by Facebook and Google and they don’t like it. So, how do you make your lumbering, inefficient, news service compete with fast-moving Silicon Valley companies? You add extra regulation to them. You create a “kite mark” so everything submitted to Facebook has to go through some bureaucrats to get approved. This would slow down the amount of content that gets onto Facebook or Google, so less eyeballs on them.
Unfortunately, it won’t work because it would mean every individual post would have to be checked. Post some photos, has to be checked. Post something about your autumn sale, has to be checked. Because anyone could slip their “9/11 truther” stuff into the middle of that. It would kill Facebook and as of now, I’m pretty sure that the public would rather see the end of ITN than Facebook.

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Arthur the Cat
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Arthur the Cat

This really doesn’t pass the smell test. If in early 2003 a news organisation had published an article saying that Iraq definitely didn’t have weapons of mass destruction and the intelligence information was at best dubious and at worst being manipulated to justify war, would it have received this kite mark?

Bloke on M4
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Bloke on M4

That’s a good point. Of course, if you find someone who says this and just report his words, your reporting is entirely accurate: “Sid Bonkers says the moon is made of cheese”. Entirely true. That is what Sid Bonkers said. The problem beyond that is that you get OFCOM wading in on the accuracy of a source, which gets really dangerous. They probably would have passed Wakefield’s MMR rubbish as he was a doctor writing in the Lancet, and aren’t these people the experts? I’ve yet to ever see society undermined by crank internet theories. Most people don’t buy into… Read more »

jgh
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jgh

I keep waiting with anticipation for these jobs as online content vettors to be advertised – it would be an ideal work-from-home job – but again and again it’s all lies.

Spike
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Spike

Isn’t anyone looking West to the capitals of social media? There is no high-minded campaign to “improve the quality” of a forum that doesn’t rapidly turn into a set of rules to exclude posters who disagree with *me*.

Spike
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Spike

PS–The Coronavirus neither increased the urgency nor provided grounds to ignore established rules of conduct, given that every “vetted fact” on which governments based their reaction (remember hospitals being overwhelmed?) was somewhere between false and maliciously false.

David
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David

I think it is funny that Jon Snow thinks that he is a quality journalist. After his remarks about Brexit and never seeing so many white people before in one place – there were far more at Glastonbury, he is a bit of a joke.