// many of the questions Prem was asking
// on this list, answered here ...
// just replace "source of information",
// "news" etc with "academics", "mainstream teaching"
// and so on...
This raises an interesting question: how does one decide what the
threshold of cre.dibility is for a non-mainstream source of information? --
By the quality of the writing? By the popularity of the source? By the
degree of intersection with one's own politics? By the quality of the web
If one is willing to look at process rather than individual event, then what
has just happened does begin to set up filters of credibility.
1. You circulated news from a non-mainstream source, identifying the source
of the news.
2. You received feedback on this news from others - the fact that the news
was circulated acts as a filter - as Eric Raymond said 'given enough
eyeballs, all bugs are shallow'
3. You were willing to openly modify your previous assertion in the light of
new evidence, and this modification serves notice on the credibility of the
While it is important to know the credibility of a source of news, I believe
that question has to be simultaneously raised with a set of other questions.
Firstly one must ask is it important to consider non-mainstream sources of
news? Many of us would say 'definitely' - especially after reading analyses
such as that of Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman 'Manufacturing Consent' which
puts forward not only an explanatory model, but also a great deal of
evidence to demonstrate that mainstream media in capitalist democracies
tends to serve as a propaganda machine.
Therefore, together with your question on judging credibility one could also
1. What are the non-mainstream possibilities for evaluating/accrediting
non-mainstream sources of news? What are the communities, technologies,
projects and networks necessary for this?
2. In this age of potential interactivity, should the quality of news be
debated purely in terms of the news-producing organisation? What is the role
of the reader?
3. What are the criteria in terms of which we evaluate the news we receive?
For example would we judge international development policy in terms of its
impact on economic growth or in terms of human rights, health, poverty
reduction, and equity. While it would seem logical to include the latter
set, one sees very little news analysis from that point of view, and a
predominant tendency to look only at GDP statistics.
4. News tends to homogenise events, seeking to construct grand narratives
that are abstracted from their context. How do we foreground suppressed
narratives, localised context-bound stories - the type that never makes the
'news'? Since news is abstract then unless its relevance and proximity is
verified by other conduits (such as personal experience) it is seen as
remote, esoteric or irrelevant.
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