Posted on September 10th, 2012 by Craig Newmark
Fact-checking and Paul Ryan, BFFs by accident?
News media taking fact checking seriously?
The Paddy Chayefsky classic, Network. Which includes both the immortal "mad as hell" line, but also... "I'm a man without a corporation."
Okay, there's been a slow build to a possible rebirth of fact-checking in the news. That had been kept alive quietly by a few news outlets, mostly notably The Daily Show and the Colbert Report and media commentators including Jeff Jarvis, Arianna Huffington, and Jay Rosen in #presspushback.
(Seriously, Stewart's work, in particular, has been highly professional; note CNN leaves it there and an unedited interview with Chris Wallace.)
Recently, we saw Soledad O'Brien possibly risking her job, check out CNN Actually Fact-Checks A Politician; Hilarity Ensues.
The Paul Ryan speech has now triggered a spasm of fact-checking; perhaps the best summary was recently done by Ari Melber.
I've been speaking to news publishers, editors, and reporters for years.
They're concerned that people don't generally trust news outlets anymore, and want help restoring trustworthiness. (I guess it's a source of desperation that they ask me.)
They're doing it quietly, since they're fighting factions that regard fact-checking and journalistic ethics as quaint relics.
However, they feel that Paul Ryan just went too far at the RNC convention. Check out: Why Paul Ryan thought he could get away with lying: 6 theories.
And Media Shift does a real good job explaining Why Fact-Checking Has Taken Root in This Year's Election:
Take Paul Ryan's convention address last week. Ryan offered several misleading statements and a few obvious lies — falsehoods that he had to know were false — although there's nothing new about politicians lying.
Just look at Ryan's fellow running mates: Sarah Palin lied about the Bridge to Nowhere in her convention address, for example, while during a nationally televised debate, Dick Cheney falsely said he had never met John Edwards, and Edwards falsely charged that the Bush administration lobbied to cut combat pay. They faced mild corrections and very little collateral damage for those high-profile statements.
This time, however, reporters did not let Ryan off the hook by noncommittally airing criticism ("opponents disagreed with his claims"), or reducing corrections to one of those stand-alone sidebars evaluating distortions ("three Pinocchios for the deficit commission history").
Instead, several authoritative accounts of Ryan's address decided that his falsehoods were a key part of the news Ryan made…
So, maybe what's changed is that surviving serious professional news people are "as mad as hell and not taking it anymore."
Beside Paul Ryan's speech, we've seen this building among the most professional people in news media, including Jay Rosen, Jeff Jarvis, and Will McAvoy. (Yes, the latter's a fictional character, but he's been a seriously inspirational force.)
It also helps that Poynter Institute, which is all about professional journalism, will be holding a conference about the restoration of journalistic ethics this fall. (Disclaimer: I'm sponsoring it.)
So the deal is that a minority of news people are risking a lot to get serious about their job.
This could be doomed, or a rebirth of news media. They need our help.
If you think it matters, tell me, and do stuff like Sharing and Retweeting the best of fact-checking. Maybe start with the links above?
Posted on September 6th, 2012 by craigconnects
Hey, people across the world really do feel we're the "shining city on the hill," that, seriously, we're the leader of the free world. I feel we need to live up to that, every day, and that means to passionately commit to voting, that's the whole "consent of the governed" thing that the Founders established.
Our troops fight for that every day; Dr King gave his life for that.
It's up to us all to ensure the integrity of our voting process by getting registered right, and to encourage everyone to vote, regardless of ethnicity or gender.
So, I'd like you to stand up for America, to register to vote, to commit to vote, and to pass it on. Try out the following:
Here's the deal: we need to stand up for our rights and elect leaders who will do good things for our country and our communities. We also gotta vote and make sure the politicians hear our voices and know we count and we matter.
I think voting should be free, fair, and accessible. The Declaration of Independence says that all men are created equal. If America wants to live up to its promise to provide all citizens with the same opportunities, then we can’t pass laws that block some Americans from voting. It’s wrong for politicians to pass laws making it harder for eligible Americans to vote.
But some of those politicians are trying to manipulate the system for their own political gains in the electorate by trying to implement strict Voter ID laws where are only one form of ID would be accepted. That’s not very flexible. If we can get on an airplane with our drivers license, passport, or other forms of ID, we should be able to use multiple forms of ID to vote. These inflexible voting ID laws are un-American and impact all sorts of people, like the elderly and Veterans – the good folks who risked taking a bullet for us to protect our democracy.
Voting brings us together; it's the one time everyone has an equal voice. At least we all should have the same say.
Sure, it’s important to stop any voter fraud, but I don’t appreciate politicians passing laws for political gain that take away people's right to vote.
There are many smart people of good will, geting the job done.
These groups include:
Getting the job done…
National Voter Registration Day is September 25th, and these groups are building apps which help you figure out what you need to do to exercise your right to vote. It's real important that we have fairness, equality, freedom, and responsibility in our country.
If I've ever helped you out, maybe via my big site, well, this is all I plan to ask of you. When the time comes, I'd suggest checking out the apps, and maybe apply to vote by mail, if allowable. (I've done so for most of the last twenty years.)
(Note to self: that's my Mom's birthday, maybe I should have her ask you?)
Second, well, the would-be elite people have a history of really dirty tricks on election day, so I'm supporting Our Vote Live which will include apps which allow you to contact volunteers to help you work around problems like political dirty tricks and to report what's going on nationally, on a map of the US, kinda Mission Control style.
There'll be more than this, more later…
(Note to self: should I really ask my Mom?)
Posted on September 4th, 2012 by Ken Berger
If you are a frequent reader of this blog, you probably know already that Craig Newmark is a big fan of Charity Navigator. Charity Navigator exists to guide intelligent giving. We do that by providing free access to ratings of the 5,500 large- and mid-size charities that receive roughly half of all private contributions (excluding houses of worship which do not file an annual informational report to the IRS – called a 990 form) made in the US each year. Last year alone, over 3 million users visited our website nearly 5 million times, giving Charity Navigator influence over somewhere between $5 and $10 billion of charitable donations. While this makes us far and away the largest and most utilized charity rating service that exists anywhere, it currently influences no more than 5% of the roughly $200 billion donated annually in America.
Last year, Charity Navigator went to Craig Newmark for help to remedy that problem. We recognized that the online world was changing and that we could have more influence if our expert analysis was readily accessible on other platforms and applications. We put our heads together, with Craig, and determined that an API (Application Programming Interface) would lower barriers to and expand the reach of our data. Wanting to see more givers make smarter choices, thereby driving increased social investment capital to higher performing nonprofits, Craig agreed to fund the creation of the API.
Today, we're excited to announce that our API is complete and out of a successful period of Beta testing. The API allows developers to find vetted charities based on keyword, category, location, regions served, inclusion in Charity Navigator’s popular 10 lists, and a variety of other data points. This initial offering provides an open database of information on 5,500 charities of all types, in all regions of our country, and whose work impacts all corners of the globe. In fact, this API is the largest data-set of the Financial Health and Accountability & Transparency of US charities. But within the next few years, the tool will be expanded further to include ratings on 10,000 charities (which garner about 70% of all private contributions made in the US each year) as well as, at least, basic information
Charity Navigator already receives a robust level of requests for our API from donor advised funds, philanthropic advisors to entrepreneurs looking to give back as their businesses grow as well as websites of all kinds that have a charity donation portal. We offer two levels of access to the API, a premium service for established organizations that are looking for a fully customizable tool and a free version (subject to volume usage fees) that is perfect for start-ups. Go now to the API page on Charity Navigator’s website to learn more about the API’s features and to register for access to the tool.on every US-based nonprofit (that is 1.5 million organizations!).
Guest blog post by Ken Berger, President & CEO of Charity Navigator.
Posted on August 23rd, 2012 by Craig Newmark
Folks, there's this law called CDA 230 which is a major free speech protection on the Internet. It also protects much of the business on the Net, which involves engagement with regular people. It's a really big deal. Maybe the most important law protecting Internet speech.
My team and I worked with the good folks at Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to create an infographic explaining how CDA 230 really protects Internet speech.
A general theme might be that we do need some law in some areas, but it's really hard to get it done right in Washington, maybe just not possible during an election year. But it's still important to let people know about important laws like CDA 230. This affects both individuals and Internet Service Providers (ISPs), including bloggers – protecting them from liability for what their customers say while using their services.
“Congress got it fundamentally right in passing CDA 230,” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman. “Speech should not be left vulnerable to collateral threats aimed at providers who allow millions of people to speak and obtain information online. Providing strong legal safeguards for Internet platforms ensures that as many people as possible have the opportunity to participate online.”
Here's what it's about, according to the hardworking folks at EFF: Section 230 refers to Section 230 of Title 47 of the United States Code (47 USC § 230). It was passed as part of the Communication Decency Act of 1996. Many aspects of the CDA were unconstitutional restrictions of freedom of speech (and, with EFF's help, were struck down by the Supreme Court), but this section survived and has been a valuable defense for people who run websites ever since.
If we lost this law it would probably destroy the Web as we know it. CDA 230’s made a huge contribution to the explosion of innovation and expression online, and we need it.
Posted on August 21st, 2012 by craigconnects
Sometimes a really good writer can really get to the point really well.
In his blog, George R. R. Martin says:
I am way too busy these days for long political rants.
But I would be remiss if I do not at least make passing mention of how depressed, disgusted, and, yes, angry I've become as I watch the ongoing attempts at voter suppression in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Iowa, and other states where Republicans and their Teabagger allies control key seats of power.
It is one thing to attempt to win elections. But trying to do so by denying the most basic and important right of any American citizen to hundreds and thousands of people, on entirely spurious grounds… that goes beyond reprehensible. That is despicable.