One of the most interesting, and I suspect probably historically important, things to come out of the latest deadly spasm in the middle east was the extent to which the "blogosphere" was able to debunk dishonest reporting by the mainstream media.
Consider, for example, Johnson's role at littlegreenfootballs.com in co-ordinating the volunteer resources needed to prove that dozens of high impact photographs of Israeli atrocities in Lebanon were complete fakes - Or zombietime's painstaking review of a horrific and unprovoked Israeli attack on an ambulance that never happened but made graphic headlines in Time Magazine and dozens of comparably reputable new sources including the New York Times and The Boston Globe
What appears to have happened over the course of Israel's pursuit of Hizballah into Lebanon was that a lot of media professionals were genuinely taken in by the actions of a few - but their failure to do their jobs had global consequences. Here's the summary comment from zombietime:
Could it be that the entire [ambulance] incident is a fabrication? All signs point to "Yes."
If so, the implications are enormous, both for the outcome of the war and for the credibility of the media. Most analysts agree that Israel was pressured into a ceasefire due to international outcry over how it was conducting the battle. The media informed the public that Israel was intentionally targeting civilians; the public insisted that their governments demand that Israel stand down; international pressure was applied, and Israel caved in. And of all the incidents decried in the media -- taking out infrastructure, destroying Hezbollah-associated buildings that had not been fully evacuated, and so on -- only the ambulance incident could be held up as having no possible military purpose; all the other attacks were pointed out by Israel as being intended to degrade Hezbollah's ability to fight. Aside from a handful of stray missiles and accidents or misunderstandings for which Israel apologised, only this incident was "proof" that Israel was purposely aiming at noncombatants. So reports that an Israeli missile attack destroyed two ambulances played a role in shaping global opinion, which led to a ceasefire leaving Hezbollah intact.
But if the entire incident turns out to have been an elaborate but clumsy hoax, where does that leave the reputation of the media? Not a single reporter or editor doubted the story for a second. Or if they did, they certainly didn't inform readers of their doubts. Why did the media swallow the story hook, line and sinker? In their zeal to bash Israel, did they allow themselves, consciously or unconsciously, to be duped by Hezbollah supporters into broadcasting propaganda as news? Or is the media so eager to jump on any fresh scandal that they simply switch off their critical thinking and become absolutely credulous of any juicy tale thrown their way?
The people involved have made numerous excuses for their actions - they relied on local stringers of (retrospectively apparent) dubious integrity, APTN (Associated Press Television News) might have had a bad apple to two involved in video editing, the (singular) photographer involved had previously established a good track record, etc etc - and much of this sounds sensible and possible, except that the most condemned agency, Reuter, seems to be continuing the practice of what the bloggers are calling "Fauxtography." Meanwhile, not a single news agency caught this way has mentioned in any apology so far that political motivation might have had a role: the argument being that because George Bush supports Israel, Israel must be guilty and therefore fake atrocity reporting, like fake memos, becomes a fair means to a good end - and they certainly haven't mentioned the reality that their daily competitive bread and butter depends on the old adage that if it bleeds it leads and truth be damned.
All of this is big picture, world stage, direct life and death stuff and it's a very long way from there to the relative triviality of the OS, hardware, and management issues I usually talk about in this blog. But, human behaviour doesn't recognise boundaries of scale - and the thing I find most notable about Apple's MacTel debacle is the extent to which the mainstream Apple press has not just quietly gone along, but enthusiastically endorsed obvious fakery - like claiming price and performance advantages for MacTel over PPC when they have to know none of it's true.
Want a list of all Apple focused journalists who've seriously questioned MacTel? Try this one:
Yeah, and if the technology media community isn't doing its job with respect to Apple, what makes you think it's doing its job with respect to any other company with big media bucks? like Microsoft, or IBM, or Intel, or Dell?