0756: "Public Opinion"

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0756: "Public Opinion"

Postby soren121 » Mon Jun 21, 2010 3:42 am UTC

Image

Alt-text: "News networks giving a greater voice to viewers because the social web is so popular are like a chef on the Titanic who, seeing the looming iceberg and fleeing customers, figures ice is the future and starts making snow cones."

I think this comic needed another panel with Black Hat Guy.
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Re: "Public Opinion" discussion (#756)

Postby smilin' » Mon Jun 21, 2010 3:44 am UTC

So true, and they always seem to find the dumbest sounding people or the stupidest sound bite. They know what they want and they know how to get it.
(although as a whole people can be pretty idiotic)

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Re: "Public Opinion" discussion (#756)

Postby Kain » Mon Jun 21, 2010 3:48 am UTC

I took about a two year hiatus from watching the news (mostly because my roommate is a rather far right libertarian, and hates when I watch CNN, just like I hate when he watches FOX) and was startled when I started watching regular news again this summer. Twitter posts? Really? WTF?
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Re: "Public Opinion" discussion (#756)

Postby dookiecheese » Mon Jun 21, 2010 3:52 am UTC

The sarcasm, it's so angry...I love it.
Finally a way to sum up American News in under 10 seconds.

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Re: "Public Opinion" discussion (#756)

Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Mon Jun 21, 2010 3:53 am UTC

I'm pretty sure Simon Cowell's got a newscaster job in his future.

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Re: "Public Opinion" discussion (#756)

Postby DVC » Mon Jun 21, 2010 4:02 am UTC

I sincerely believe the media needs to be regulated in a different way. The details are fuzzy, but if we pay for news media it should have to be licensed and that license should be dependant upon some form of review either peer review or review by an independent body. I don't know how exactly but the majority of people's opinions are based on dodgy reporting, especially when it comes to science and technical issues.

Blogging wouldn't be covered by this, anyone is free to give their opinion but the line between opinion and information has become too blurred. So, major media like free to air/pay TV, print newspapers etc. need to be regulated differently so that we can easily tell the difference between thorough reputable news and comment.

Maybe I'm being naive but in a world where popularity decides policy, popularity shouldn't inform opinion. If the educator only tells you what you want to hear, how is it any sort of education?

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Re: "Public Opinion" discussion (#756)

Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Mon Jun 21, 2010 4:05 am UTC

Because we've always been at war with Oceania. Duh.

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Re: "Public Opinion" discussion (#756)

Postby CorruptUser » Mon Jun 21, 2010 4:14 am UTC

Mighty Jalapeno wrote:Because we've always been at war with Oceania. Duh.


No, they have always been our allies. It's Eurasia that we've always been at war with.

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Re: "Public Opinion" discussion (#756)

Postby jeromeo » Mon Jun 21, 2010 4:15 am UTC

best alt-text ever

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Re: "Public Opinion" discussion (#756)

Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Mon Jun 21, 2010 4:25 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:
Mighty Jalapeno wrote:Because we've always been at war with Oceania. Duh.


No, they have always been our allies. It's Eurasia that we've always been at war with.

I said that! I always said that!

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Re: "Public Opinion" discussion (#756)

Postby CorruptUser » Mon Jun 21, 2010 4:33 am UTC

Mighty Jalapeno wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:
Mighty Jalapeno wrote:Because we've always been at war with Oceania. Duh.


No, they have always been our allies. It's Eurasia that we've always been at war with.

I said that! I always said that!


Yes, dear sibling, you have always said that. By the way, do you happen to have a new razor blade? I have 50 g of chocolate saved up.

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Re: "Public Opinion" discussion (#756)

Postby Steve the Pocket » Mon Jun 21, 2010 4:39 am UTC

soren121 wrote:I think this comic needed another panel with Black Hat Guy.

TRUTH! I would love to see him mess with the reporter.
cephalopod9 wrote:Only on Xkcd can you start a topic involving Hitler and people spend the better part of half a dozen pages arguing about the quality of Operating Systems.

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Re: "Public Opinion" discussion (#756)

Postby Calu » Mon Jun 21, 2010 4:42 am UTC

Hehe.
And I was just watching this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zYYCCsSjkw

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Re: "Public Opinion" discussion (#756)

Postby Eternal Density » Mon Jun 21, 2010 4:42 am UTC

What do you guys think of this comic?

dookiecheese wrote:The sarcasm, it's so angry...I love it.
Finally a way to sum up American News in under 10 seconds.
jeromeo wrote:best alt-text ever
CorruptUser wrote:Yes, dear sibling, you have always said that. By the way, do you happen to have a new razor blade? I have 50 g of chocolate saved up.
Calu wrote:Hehe.
And I was just watching this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zYYCCsSjkw
Eternal Density wrote:What do you guys think of this comic?
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Re: "Public Opinion" discussion (#756)

Postby folkhero » Mon Jun 21, 2010 4:50 am UTC

This joke seemed way to obvious to me. He wanted to get from point A (valid criticism of television news) to point B (humor) and just took the easiest possible path.

DVC wrote:The details are fuzzy, but if we pay for news media it should have to be licensed and that license should be dependant upon some form of review either peer review or review by an independent body. I don't know how exactly but the majority of people's opinions are based on dodgy reporting, especially when it comes to science and technical issues.

Yes, nothing says "freedom of the press" like strict regulation and licensing. I look forward to the day where the government can tell me what to think instead of the media companies; I'm sure that will be a big step up.
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Re: "Public Opinion" discussion (#756)

Postby herbys » Mon Jun 21, 2010 4:59 am UTC

DVC wrote: The details are fuzzy, but if we pay for news media it should have to be licensed and that license should be dependant upon some form of review either peer review or review by an independent body.


Or you could just move to Venezuela, where that is exactly the case, to see how that works.
Hint: it's not good for freedom, democracy or even for information.

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Re: "Public Opinion" discussion (#756)

Postby pgn674 » Mon Jun 21, 2010 5:03 am UTC

News networks giving a greater voice to viewers because the social web is so popular are like a chef on the Titanic who, seeing the looming iceberg and fleeing customers, figures ice is the future and starts making snow cones.
The img-title sounds like a political cartoon. Any artists want to take a whack at it?

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Re: "Public Opinion" discussion (#756)

Postby pgn674 » Mon Jun 21, 2010 5:20 am UTC

pgn674 wrote:The img-title sounds like a political cartoon. Any artists want to take a whack at it?
Attachments
xkcd political cartoon.png

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Re: "Public Opinion" discussion (#756)

Postby helo darqness » Mon Jun 21, 2010 5:25 am UTC

This alt text is so good, its now quoted (citation included) as my facebook status.

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Re: "Public Opinion" discussion (#756)

Postby cephalopod9 » Mon Jun 21, 2010 5:28 am UTC

folkhero wrote:
DVC wrote:The details are fuzzy, but if we pay for news media it should have to be licensed and that license should be dependant upon some form of review either peer review or review by an independent body. I don't know how exactly but the majority of people's opinions are based on dodgy reporting, especially when it comes to science and technical issues.

Yes, nothing says "freedom of the press" like strict regulation and licensing. I look forward to the day where the government can tell me what to think instead of the media companies; I'm sure that will be a big step up.
I don't think DVC is saying that "news" that doesn't qualify should be kept off the air, just that in an ideal situation, we'd have some shared understanding of what can legally qualify as "News", much in the way we have shared understandings of what can legally be sold as "beef".

Sadly, actually introducing regulatory measures of that extent would be next to impossible without causing serious problems. However, I would like to see some more consequences for knowingly misrepresenting facts and data.
Image

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Re: "Public Opinion" discussion (#756)

Postby westrim » Mon Jun 21, 2010 5:29 am UTC

Hey, if my ship is about to hit an iceberg, a snowcone shave ice sounds pretty darn good.

Kain wrote:I took about a two year hiatus from watching the news (mostly because my roommate is a rather far right libertarian, and hates when I watch CNN, just like I hate when he watches FOX) and was startled when I started watching regular news again this summer. Twitter posts? Really? WTF?


>CNN
>Regular News

Maybe you should just wean yourself off of the 24-hour news cycle and watch something else that has at least done some preliminary fact checking. I watch BBC for international news and NBC for national stuff, because I know their biases and can adjust accordingly.

DVC wrote:I sincerely believe the media needs to be regulated in a different way. The details are fuzzy, but if we pay for news media it should have to be licensed and that license should be dependant upon some form of review either peer review or review by an independent body. I don't know how exactly but the majority of people's opinions are based on dodgy reporting, especially when it comes to science and technical issues.

Blogging wouldn't be covered by this, anyone is free to give their opinion but the line between opinion and information has become too blurred. So, major media like free to air/pay TV, print newspapers etc. need to be regulated differently so that we can easily tell the difference between thorough reputable news and comment.

Maybe I'm being naive but in a world where popularity decides policy, popularity shouldn't inform opinion. If the educator only tells you what you want to hear, how is it any sort of education?



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Re: "Public Opinion" discussion (#756)

Postby DVC » Mon Jun 21, 2010 5:34 am UTC

folkhero wrote:This joke seemed way to obvious to me. He wanted to get from point A (valid criticism of television news) to point B (humor) and just took the easiest possible path.

DVC wrote:The details are fuzzy, but if we pay for news media it should have to be licensed and that license should be dependant upon some form of review either peer review or review by an independent body. I don't know how exactly but the majority of people's opinions are based on dodgy reporting, especially when it comes to science and technical issues.

Yes, nothing says "freedom of the press" like strict regulation and licensing. I look forward to the day where the government can tell me what to think instead of the media companies; I'm sure that will be a big step up.


Who said anything about government control. I said "peer review" or "review by an independent body."

herbys wrote:
DVC wrote: The details are fuzzy, but if we pay for news media it should have to be licensed and that license should be dependant upon some form of review either peer review or review by an independent body.


Or you could just move to Venezuela, where that is exactly the case, to see how that works.
Hint: it's not good for freedom, democracy or even for information.


Well the current system is appalling for information. I've lost count of the number of times I've read a news article about a scientific paper, then read the paper only to find that the paper's conclusion has been mis-represented in the news article. It used to be that the role of the news was to report the facts well enough to let the reader make an informed opinion. Now they just short-cut to giving you an opinion, reporting the facts they like to support that. That is appalling for freedom, great for perceived freedom, but the two are not the same.

I, like everyone in a democratic country, have my freedoms limited by the government. The government we have is elected by the people, but the people are making their decision based on shoddy information, distorted by someone else's opinion. That's not freedom.

As an analogy think about going to the doctor. Now imagine if the doctor decided how to cure what ails you on the basis of information that didn't come from an informed/reputable fact-checked source. Can anyone say leeches? The leeches we have in government are a direct result of opinionated, shoddy, shallow depth reporting.

Edit: cephlapod9 gets it. You can say whatever you like, but a standard for accuracy and depth of information needs to be met for news to be considered A-grade. How do I know what is A-grade? I can trust "reputable establishments" but what guarantee do I have that they have kept to their standards on this occasion? Maybe a rating system would be useful (something like an impact factor but based on accuracy rather than popularity), then at least I can be confident a news source will worsen their rating if they skim on the details or do a bad job.

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Re: "Public Opinion" discussion (#756)

Postby westrim » Mon Jun 21, 2010 5:47 am UTC

DVC wrote:
Well the current system is appalling for information. I've lost count of the number of times I've read a news article about a scientific paper, then read the paper only to find that the paper's conclusion has been mis-represented in the news article. It used to be that the role of the news was to report the facts well enough to let the reader make an informed opinion. Now they just short-cut to giving you an opinion, reporting the facts they like to support that. That is appalling for freedom, great for perceived freedom, but the two are not the same.

I, like everyone in a democratic country, have my freedoms limited by the government. The government we have is elected by the people, but the people are making their decision based on shoddy information, distorted by someone else's opinion. That's not freedom.

As an analogy think about going to the doctor. Now imagine if the doctor decided how to cure what ails you on the basis of information that didn't come from an informed source. Can anyone say leeches? The leeches we have in government are a direct result of opinionated, shoddy, shallow depth reporting.


Hey, remember when we went to war backed by public furor and accusations that turned out to be false? No it wasn't Iraq in 2003- it was Spain in 1898. The press has NEVER been perfect, or even very good, at presenting the truth, largely because the truth is rarely as clear cut as you seem to think it is- what is merely a new medication that prevents an egg from settling on the uterine wall for up to five days and forces a menstrual cycle is a human killing nightmare to someone else ,and both are correct from their perspective, (even if you think a 2 cell thing is not a human yet as I do). And the media probably never will be until the species collectively becomes more logical and less magical in its thought processes. Take off the rose colored glasses.

Your job is not to take everything at face value, but to inform yourself after becoming aware of it and before you form an opinion on it. It's unfortunate that so many skip that, but that's the process.

Oh, and leeches are very good with swelling and the like. Tons (literal tons) of them are used every year in western medical facilities. Way to be "informed."

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Re: "Public Opinion" discussion (#756)

Postby Ghona » Mon Jun 21, 2010 5:49 am UTC

soren121 wrote:Alt-text: "News networks giving a greater voice to viewers because the social web is so popular are like a chef on the Titanic who, seeing the looming iceberg and fleeing customers, figures ice is the future and starts making snow cones."

... but if you made snow cones fast enough, you could save the ship!
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Re: "Public Opinion" discussion (#756)

Postby DVC » Mon Jun 21, 2010 5:54 am UTC

westrim wrote:Oh, and leeches are very good with swelling and the like. Tons (literal tons) of them are used every year in western medical facilities. Way to be "informed."


Yes, I know. However, it was the ubiquitousness of leeches as the solution, before medical information was properly vetted, that I was seeking to invoke.

westrim wrote:Hey, remember when we went to war backed by public furor and accusations that turned out to be false? No it wasn't Iraq in 2003- it was Spain in 1898. The press has NEVER been perfect, or even very good, at presenting the truth, largely because the truth is rarely as clear cut as you seem to think it is- what is merely a new medication that prevents an egg from settling on the uterine wall for up to five days and forces a menstrual cycle is a human killing nightmare to someone else ,and both are correct from their perspective, (even if you think a 2 cell thing is not a human yet as I do). And the media probably never will be until the species collectively becomes more logical and less magical in its thought processes. Take off the rose colored glasses.


So, your argument is that the press has always been bad at their job, so we shouldn't try and fix it? I'm not arguing about presenting "truth" so much as I am presenting "facts". And if opinions are to be presented they should be balanced, or at least properly attributed. It seems every news story is an opinion piece these days.

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Re: "Public Opinion" discussion (#756)

Postby haloshade » Mon Jun 21, 2010 6:57 am UTC

I don't really watch the news, I get all my news from watching The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. Those are probably the most honest news programs out there anyways.

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Re: "Public Opinion" discussion (#756)

Postby Siguy » Mon Jun 21, 2010 7:19 am UTC

The Alt-Text may just have been better than the comic itself.

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Re: "Public Opinion" discussion (#756)

Postby sellyme » Mon Jun 21, 2010 7:24 am UTC

I stopped listening to news when I was about 4 and I saw the headline "Teen plays Grand Theft Auto; Kills Cab Driver". Now, if you read the rest of the article, it says they found a GTA game in his room and assumed it was his, he played it thta morning, and that was why he killed the cab driver. The newspaper could have just as easily said "Teen eats breakfast cereal; Kills Cab Driver" but no. The media is so ridiculoulsy full of crap and biased it's not funny. Recently we had a commercial for the "7PM Project" in Australia, saying "This laptop is waterproof, indestructable, solar powered and free. And we'll show you how YOU can get one." If you watched the actual show, you'd find out that the government was giving them to poor Aboriginal students in outback communities. So, unless I wanted to deliberately lose all of the money my family has, move to the outback and somehow change skin colour, I can't get one. Thanks, helpful news program!

I've also seen "public opinion" studies about football teams. They had a poll on which AFL team had the worst anthem. They held the poll in Melbourne. At a football ground. At a Collingwood Vs. Carlton game. Now if that isn't a biased selection I don't know what is.

Since all of that, I have listened to the news every day, just so I know what didn't happen. "Gang attack kills 2" probably means "2 pasty white guys with a baseball bat died trying to attack a police officer". Yes, that's actually been on the news. Since when was 2 people a gang, and how do their deaths increase the amount of people they killed?

Another example: "Australia most obese country on Earth.". Now, if you do research, you'll find the article is trying to say Australia is the most obese Western Society surveyed country. Of which there were 5. Do some more research and you'll find that it's percentage of overweight people they based it on. However, if you take the average BMI (the standard they used for the test, which is flawed(A muscly person will have a huge BMI)) America is nearly 1.5 times more obese as Australia, which would have come 4th out of the 5 countries. Do even more research and you'll find that Australia is actually fairly close to "healthy" weight (i.e. a low deviation). However, America and, to a lesser extent, England have not only a large amount of obese people, but also even more incredibly skinny and bulimic/anorexic people. Whereas Australia has a relatively small number.

And I know I've gone a little bit off-topic, but I really need to show how full of crap news programs are. In EVERY aspect.
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Re: "Public Opinion" discussion (#756)

Postby pachinkoid » Mon Jun 21, 2010 8:02 am UTC

i was having trouble understanding the relevance of the alt-text.

i though i'd get an answer to my problem by asking the xkcd-ching.

first it gave me 675 (nice coincidence of numbering) and then it gave me 481.

i never knew!

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Re: "Public Opinion" discussion (#756)

Postby EvlDragonMonkey » Mon Jun 21, 2010 8:08 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:
Mighty Jalapeno wrote:Because we've always been at war with Oceania. Duh.


No, they have always been our allies. It's Eurasia that we've always been at war with.


We were never at war with Eurasia, we have always been at war with Eastasia!


P.S. I have nothing relevant to say because I don't watch the news for reasons unrelated to the masquerading of opinions as fact.
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Re: "Public Opinion" discussion (#756)

Postby roflwaffle » Mon Jun 21, 2010 8:13 am UTC

At least the Titanic sank eventually. By the way, is referencing it the new godwined?

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Re: "Public Opinion" discussion (#756)

Postby rattusprat » Mon Jun 21, 2010 8:58 am UTC

I get amused when commercial media claims "there is public outcry over X" or run a story about "controversial proposal X", when in fact a large proportion of the public outcry / controversy is in fact due to the media beatup about the public outcry / controversy.

I believe (I haven't run a detailed analysis of the data ... yet) that if a politician's approval rating drops 2 or 3% from one month to the next in opinion polls, due in part to statistical deviation or some minor event the day before the poll, then if nothing much happens politically during the next month(s) their rating will typically continue to fall. This fall being caused by media slipping the words "falling approval rating" in whenever mentioning said politician, and continually beating up the issue which they believe may have caused the rating drop, which the general public will interpret as "the approval is dropping, so they must be doing something wrong, so I must be less happy with them than I used to be".

Look out for your friends / relatives (or yourself) who don't follow much "real" political news being able to say "he's/she's/it's not very popular at the moment, is he/she/it" without actually understanding, or being able to form an opinion on, the underlying issues.

Most commercial media is lazy and simply perpetuates trends in public opinion rather than actually doing any real journalism or trying to inform the public (was this point raised in a webcomic somewhere recently? - not sure)

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Re: "Public Opinion" discussion (#756)

Postby fictiveLaark » Mon Jun 21, 2010 9:02 am UTC

The best regulation I can think of is something like the ESRB, it's not legally binding but it's a guideline and, at least in my city, I get carded when buying violent games and can't find Adult games at Target or Gamestop. There could be a body that decided what is good news and bad news and people can take their recommendation if they want. If FOX news qualified as good news, they would advertise the shit out of that. If FOX news didn't qualify as good news they would still advertise the shit out of that, and you know what? Their ratings would probably go up! Why? Because however grounded their claim in reality would be they could much more easily convince people that the liberal media is trying to silence their right to free speech. Remember that time that someone at the white house was stupid enough to claim that they would be waging a war on FOX news?

And I just want to point out real quick, Jon Stewart is not a news caster. I personally feel Jon Stewart is looking to enlighten America but not by getting people to make him their sole source of information. I seem to remember an interview with Jim Cramer where John pans Cramer for having a show were he convinces people that his bullshit advice is worth something. Cramer then claims that John does the same thing, but John points out that he has never claimed to be a news caster, which as long as I have watched, is true. I think John Stewart has a lot of great product to give but the way some people consume it is very unhealthy.

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Re: "Public Opinion" discussion (#756)

Postby Snow02 » Mon Jun 21, 2010 9:09 am UTC

Case in point....
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nda_OSWeyn8

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Re: "Public Opinion" discussion (#756)

Postby RabbitWho » Mon Jun 21, 2010 9:19 am UTC


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Re: "Public Opinion" discussion (#756)

Postby Switch31 » Mon Jun 21, 2010 9:55 am UTC

I'm not a big fan of the 24 hr news networks because they seem to do a whole lot of fear mongering.

I've gotta say though, that alt text is pretty clever.
Image

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Re: "Public Opinion" discussion (#756)

Postby You, sir, name? » Mon Jun 21, 2010 10:52 am UTC

I edit my posts a lot and sometimes the words wrong order words appear in sentences get messed up.

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Re: "Public Opinion" discussion (#756)

Postby Karilyn » Mon Jun 21, 2010 11:06 am UTC

cephalopod9 wrote:I don't think DVC is saying that "news" that doesn't qualify should be kept off the air, just that in an ideal situation, we'd have some shared understanding of what can legally qualify as "News", much in the way we have shared understandings of what can legally be sold as "beef".

In an ideal world, that would be nice.

But I suspect the line between the two is blurred. I've seen, on more than one occasion, myself included, arguing that something doesn't qualify as newsworthy and shouldn't be on the air. Yes, I know, shame on me, but I cannot for the life of me see the value in reporting the scores for various sports teams. Stuff should be saved for ESPN, not for News networks.

Yes I'm well aware of my hypocrisy.
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Re: "Public Opinion" discussion (#756)

Postby DragonHawk » Mon Jun 21, 2010 11:25 am UTC

I don't watch news. I read news. I watch entertainment. (And less and less of that on "traditional" TV, and more and more on Netflix and Hulu, but I digress.) TV news is a joke.

Obligatory video link: Breaking News: Some Bullshit Happening Somewhere - Excruciating up-to-the-minute coverage of some irrelevant bullshit story that has no ramifications whatsoever. (The Onion)

DVC's idea of "regulating" news scares me. What could possibly go wrong? Fuzzy on the details, indeed. "A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures." (Daniel Webster)

Eternal Density's recursive post amuses me.
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GENERATION 42: The first time you see this, copy it into yοur sig on any forum and stick a fork in yοur еyе. Social experiment.

DVC
Posts: 109
Joined: Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:20 am UTC

Re: "Public Opinion" discussion (#756)

Postby DVC » Mon Jun 21, 2010 11:44 am UTC

DragonHawk wrote:DVC's idea of "regulating" news scares me. What could possibly go wrong? Fuzzy on the details, indeed. "A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures." (Daniel Webster)

Eternal Density's recursive post amuses me.


How about just implementing some sort of peer rating system then?

Eternal Density's post amuses me too.


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