Press Bias And The Internet

Dana Blankenhorn wrote an interesting rebuttal to an AP article titled, “Piracy Tool Turns Legit”. The article put a negative spin on Opera’s latest move to support BitTorrent as “The Opera Web browser will soon support a file-transfer tool commonly associated with online movie piracy.”

Blankenhorn writes:

Excuse me, AP, but bull-cookies. BitTorrent is not Kazaa. It’s a technology. There’s no business there. Blaming BitTorrent for piracy is like blaming FTP or SMTP or even HTTP for piracy, because you can move copyrighted files. You can move copyrighted content across all Internet protocols. They are value-neutral.

Yet Blankenhorn’s central thesis pointed to the idea of Press bias being inescapable to its current business model

The news industry as a whole is moving increasingly toward the idea that stories are commodities, like movies or recordings, and that common Internet usage of such material represents piracy. Many AP papers are now behind registration firewalls, and AP’s new pricing policy will accelerate the trend.

Thus, the AP has an institutional bias against the Internet, a business bias.

To me, this is just another sign that it’s much more important today to support collaborative efforts of open publishing such as Wikipedia. Certainly, there will always be bias in any story written (it’s inescapable), but as Blankenhorn points out, fairness (leaning against one’s own bias) is also a central, balancing tenet of news reporting, and it seems this is increasingly much harder to come by in practice.

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