The symposium discussion about validity brought me straight back to a Crikey article about Tharunka, the University of New South Wales’ student publication, who published a prank article about a fake protest at the UNSW’s Max Brenner store that fooled The Daily Telegraph. The Daily Tele ran with an article about the protest without confirming with the store or UNSW security. Two years ago 2UE ran with a story about UNSW’s student union making a $1.4 million bid for the Sydney’s deconstructed monorail without bothering to call the student union to confirm (ABC News Radio and the mX also reported it, however they called and were lied to the the student union president).
This brings trust into question – the Daily Tele might not be held with the utmost respect by some (in fact it is Australia’s least trusted newspaper), but it remains the second biggest newspaper in the country in terms on circulation, so it’s used as a news source for a lot of people. News reporting is expected to accurate and subsequently it’s taken at it’s word by its readers, so a prime source of validity. But with the rise of online news comes the race to get the jump on the competitors, and this means accuracy can be at times second priority. It’s a bit of a weird shift to see previously pillars of trust no longer earning that trust now that they’re online. I think also with the internet comes the belief that if something has been viewed by a lot of people, talked about by a lot of people, then it’s validity is kind of implied. If a news article gets a lot of attention on Facebook or reddit, for example, I think for a lot of people there’s less of a thought to challenge something than if someone told them the same thing in a bar. But there’s also a reverse effect happening, too – if I see a news article with thousands of likes on Facebook I’m instantly sceptical.
But in other areas the speed and competition for comment has great benefits, too. The numbers of voices being able to be heard has never been greater, and it seems a fair trade have to give up some certainty of validity to be able to experience a diversity in voice.