Facebook has become an interesting power-player in the world of news distribution. Recently in the news for actively censoring “conservative” viewpoints on their trending sidebar, the social media site has recently switched to an algorithm that shares what is popular, “without bias.”
What is more interesting about facebook’s influence on the way people receive the news, is the uniformity, and seeming validity it brings to any organization that wants to publish a blog post as “news.” I see this frequently in the sharing of Huffington Post blog posts, or mic.com which, because (I suspect) of the uniformity of link sharing formats on faebook, look just like news, and the headlines are often written like news, with no disclaimer that they are opinion pieces no subject to the same “journalistic standards” one could expect from a news source.
Going into my research for this week, I found this to be at the forefront of my mind, as I saw a variety of “articles” published that were a mix of opinion, outright bias, and un-factcheck-able claims. This, as I mentioned last post, seems to be a common theme amongst #Snowden supporters. What I found even more intriguing was still the distance with which most popular news sources held Snowden as subject matter.
I found many “news sources” writing articles about Snowden, written in the romantic light of a mistreated anti-hero.
SPUTNIK news was one source I found interesting, in that it is owned an operated by the Russian Government controlled news agency: Rossiya Segodnya. They are geared toward a global audience, seemingly a modern American audience.
It’s not a stretch to believe when one of their feature headlines reads: “Supersonic Car Detected in Russia”
In some of the largest “anti-snowden” news in recent memory, The Washington Post, who originally published much of the information provided by Edward Snowden as a source, and subsequently won a Pulitzer for their reporting on the topic, has come forward in an editorial board piece, stating that they do not believe that Snowden should receive a presidential pardon. This has sparked an uproad amongst all media outlets, saying that this is the first time in history that a news outlet has advocated against a source that it accepted and vetted as a reliable journalistic source.
Many of the comments on these posts, however, expose an antipathy for Snowden.
Some even suggesting that this is due to it’s ownership by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, and even suggesting a “cloud” “CIA” connection.
What is interesting to me, is the Washington Post article itself, which argues that in large part, what Snowden leaked outside of NSA info (like PRISM, and politically motivated monitoring of known terrorist organizations) was more harmful than helpful. Essentially, they argue, that the breaking of oaths for all the information he leaked is a crime that has harmed national security, and that he should face a trial for it.
I find this reaction interesting in light of the recent “Pardon Snowden” campaign that seems to have been planned to coincide with the new movie about him. I find it interesting also, they way in which The Washington Post went about “endorsing” the conviction, or at least the lack of a pardon for him, after they profited so readily from the news he shared with them as a source. Is this just The Washington Post taking a conservative stance in a liberal hot-button issue? Or is there something more that motivates WaPo to publish such a conviction?