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P2P News Syndication? 266

Posted by michael
from the reinventing-usenet dept.
Buggernut writes "According to an article at BBC, news may be the next major item to be passed around through P2P networks, thereby escaping the grasp of the censors' attempts to control the spread of forbidden information."
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P2P News Syndication?

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  • by Gogl (125883) on Friday April 09, 2004 @06:58PM (#8821691) Journal
    The problem is lack of attention. Censorship is a problem too, but there certainly are sources out there, albeit obscure ones, that cover all sorts of stuff that "mainstream" sources don't touch.

    The problem is lack of attention and publicity. Mainstream sources cover mainstream things because that's what the mainstream wants: it's what sells. While stories are sometimes neglected due to their being taboo, I'd say the main obstacle is lack of interest. The stories may be taboo at CNN, but they're probably being covered elsewhere. It's just the elsewhere (Indymedia, foreign sources, what-have-you) is unpopular: people aren't interested.

    A P2P news network might ironically solve that problem, though, as it would likely get a fair amount of press in and of itself.
  • web (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 09, 2004 @06:58PM (#8821692)
    Isn't this already happening in the world wide web? (which by the way is the first p2p system)
  • by Raindance (680694) * <`johnsonmx' `at' `gmail.com'> on Friday April 09, 2004 @06:59PM (#8821699) Homepage Journal
    One might say that's not terribly different than what some news organizations already do.
  • by UnknownQ (84898) <samcole@qhea d q u a r t e r s . com> on Friday April 09, 2004 @06:59PM (#8821702) Homepage
    GPG signing. Problem solved.
  • Re:One Word: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Angry Toad (314562) on Friday April 09, 2004 @07:01PM (#8821707)
    Problem is that I no longer trust the "trustworthy" news sources. CNN tries to sound balanced but just ends up repeating whatever the US administration said today. FOX is so absorbed in jingoist dogma that they repeat whatever the administration said today and then gush about how wonderful it is. ABC/CBS/NBC/whatever don't cover enough actual news to be worth noticing.

    Honestly, for all their faults I'm finding weblogs of various sorts more directly valuable than TV news (too politically charged and beholden to advertisters to be truly objective) AND print news (too late, and too beholden to advertisers to rock the boat).
  • by lawpoop (604919) on Friday April 09, 2004 @07:01PM (#8821709) Homepage Journal
    What we need is a system with PGP signatures. That way, a reporter can build a reputation over time. If a news article is signed by a source reporter that you trust, you can warrantedly more secure of its validity. Just ignore crap that is unsigned, be cautious with stuff from a newbie, and give as much credence as warranted from someone who hasn't steered you wrong in the past.
  • Re:credibility? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by d3m0n_11ama (606684) on Friday April 09, 2004 @07:02PM (#8821716)
    Equally, how does one know this "media sanctioned information" appearing on the T.V. screen is from a credible source rather than just placed in there by someone who made it up?
  • I don't get it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Funkitup (260923) on Friday April 09, 2004 @07:06PM (#8821743)
    The whole reason why news works is because people trust newspapers. I know it's stupid, but there are people out there that trust FOX!

    P2P news doesn't really seem to have that same trust value. Personally I am happy with the Guardian newspaper in the UK to generally get things right. It is their job to go out and read stories from around the world and present the facts to me in a way that I feel is relatively objective. I know they like (think it's their job) to screw the british government so I take that into account.

    I can't see how p2p would be any better. I would just get a massive influx of information that I don't have time to sift through. News syndicates not only do the sifting job for us, but they hopefully do it in a trustworthy fashion.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 09, 2004 @07:08PM (#8821764)
    But how does this reporter know the source is trustworthy? A real web of trust always has leaks..
  • Truth (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dj245 (732906) on Friday April 09, 2004 @07:12PM (#8821784) Homepage
    I would be worried about if what I was actually getting was the truth. /. covers some pretty obscure items, but 364 days out of the year I am pretty sure that the articles are mostly true. Add some common sense, and if its "too good to be true" it isn't, and I would say that most web-based trusted pages like this have the tendency to be true. If they werent, their reputation would get out that they are biased and unfair. Examples- Tomshardware, Intel biased, Foxnews, Warmongerers, ABC, Christians evangilism.

    With P2P you just have no clue what you are getting. It might be true, might not be. If you've seen the story before then you could be sure that it was true, but that would defeat the purpose of news- reading stories you haven't read before.

  • Re:Freenet (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mar1boro (189737) on Friday April 09, 2004 @07:13PM (#8821785) Homepage
    Anonymity is not the key though. I personally don't want my news reporters
    to be anonymous. I want them to be accountable. A reputation tied to public keys
    is what we need. I suppose an anonymous news reporter could eventually
    build up a reputation as credible. That would be tough.
    (The public key thing was discussed above, but seemed pertinent here.)
  • Re:credibility? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Angry Toad (314562) on Friday April 09, 2004 @07:13PM (#8821788)
    I think the sins of the news media today are mostly ones of omission, rather than active misinformation.

    Most news reporters still like to think of themselves as objective seekers of the truth - but they also know what is "appropriate" or "practical" to talk about and what "crosses the line". This is the real ghost in the machine - the unspoken areas of omission. They're often pretty critical to understanding context.

  • Re:I don't get it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Johnathon_Dough (719310) on Friday April 09, 2004 @07:16PM (#8821809)
    You also get to know a news sources biases, as you mention the Guardian's out-to-get-it-ness for the Brit Govn't

    Once you have compared a couple of news sources, you learn pretty quick how they slant their story's. So, even if it isn't the whole story, you will at least have a general idea of what was omitted or skewed based on that source's leanings.

    If your news comes randomly from all over, you will never know the angle someone is pushing, nor ever the whole story.

  • Re:One Word: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by a whoabot (706122) on Friday April 09, 2004 @07:21PM (#8821847)
    It's okay to read mainstream American or otherwise Atlanticist news. But don't read just it. That's how you fall victim to the propaganda. Read some news from other countries. Try reading some from India or Germany. The stuff's not poison people. And just because it says things that contradict what you hear on CNN and the BBC doesn't mean you should stop reading it just to keep your cognitive dissonance low. It was former CBS president Richard Savant who said:

    "Our job is to give people not what they want, but what we decide they ought to have."
  • by 1029 (571223) on Friday April 09, 2004 @07:22PM (#8821852) Homepage Journal
    Not that I take CNN/NBC/CBS/etc.. as the Word of God, but...

    The day I take the likes of Indymedia to be an actual news site is the day I'll basing my opinions on the rants of the insane downtown homeless guy that sells magic wands.
  • by PetoskeyGuy (648788) on Friday April 09, 2004 @07:46PM (#8821973)
    It's nice to have an alternative method of news, but I don't think you could believe anything sent in such a network. There is "NEWS" that people can run cars on water and aliens walk among us.

    "Consider the source" means a lot when your trying to decide if a news story is believable. P2P removes the credibility. News will bubble to the top based on how many people share it.

    P2P news will end up a worthless collection of lies and urban legends. Most of my family is already is part of such a network via email and no matter how many times I tell them otherwise they still spread the made up news stories, "HUGS" and prayers. I search out and refute almost every piece of crap my way, but no one sends that out 20 times to everyone they now.

    What news needs is peer review and feedback. P2P in it's current form doesn't offer anything like that. You would end up with worthless POP news that people bother to keep and share. News needs a reputation system.

    At least now I can see something comes from Fox News and know it's likely distorted, on P2P there is no trust at all.

  • Re:I don't get it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by The-Dalai-LLama (755919) on Friday April 09, 2004 @07:47PM (#8821984) Homepage Journal
    It is their job to go out and read stories from around the world and present the facts to me in a way that I feel is relatively objective.

    I think you make an excellent point about the reliability of the major news services; they do the job better than I ever could, and since there are so many eyes looking at them they're subject to to at least some review.

    I like the idea of P2P-style (which is to say decentralized) news sources, however, because on this side of the pond our mass-media outlets are becoming increasingly concentrated into the hands of an ever-shrinking pool of owners (I'm too hungry to find links, google for your own evidence - if I'm wrong I'll concede the point). Most of us still trust them, but when all of the radio stations, television stations, and newspapers are owned by the same three or four grandparent corporations (which may not have happened yet, but probably isn't too far away) their motives and their objectivity become increasingly suspect.

    Particularly when those organizations do a lot of heavy lobbying to influence the government they are supposed to be watchdogging.

    The Dalai LLama
    ...just my .02 - IANAJ (I am not a journalist)...

  • Re:One Word: (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DietVanillaPepsi (763129) on Friday April 09, 2004 @07:52PM (#8822013)
    Problem is that I no longer trust the "trustworthy" news sources. CNN tries to sound balanced but just ends up repeating whatever the US administration said today. FOX is so absorbed in jingoist dogma that they repeat whatever the administration said today and then gush about how wonderful it is. ABC/CBS/NBC/whatever don't cover enough actual news to be worth noticing.

    I don't consider any news source trustworthy. I simply have to gather the "facts" from as many news sources as possible and then formulate an opinion. I may watch Fox (although I try to avoid doing so at all costs, the people I live with love it and I hear it in passing), CNN, and BBC News; read the Guardian, Le Monde, NY Times and The Daily Mail or Telegraph (UK) in order to examine an issue.

    Each newspaper has an agenda. American journalism aims to be objective which makes for dull reading. I love to read the Guardian because of its blatantly left-leaning nature, for example. The agenda is always there, even in so-called "objective" news sources, it is just not as blatant.

  • Re:Freenet (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RPoet (20693) on Friday April 09, 2004 @07:58PM (#8822037) Journal
    Critical reporting often mandates anonymity, especially in oppressive countries like Iran, China and Italy. I like to think that anonymous writers could post news and opinions online and build up a reputation and be heard, like Locke and Demosthenes in "Ender's Game".

    However, Freenet is not necessarily about anonymity. People could still post on Freenet using their full names and sign cryptographically. An equally important part of Freenet is censorship resistance. Once something has been posted, it cannot be taken offline as long as there is demand for the content. That's information availability, a cornerstone of democracy.
  • by BiggerIsBetter (682164) on Friday April 09, 2004 @08:07PM (#8822075)
    And the BBC... anyone remember that Linux thing they did while back. I don't really, but I remember it was so error ridden that it made Slashdot. The problem with the "trustworthy-ness" idea is two fold. 1) Respected reporters can plain get it wrong. 2) Respected news media companies get bought out. 3) People lie.

    It's better than the current system, but it's really just a collectively identifying gossip mill. And while it'll be useful, the masses probably won't know about anyway.
  • Re:One Word: (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 09, 2004 @08:15PM (#8822122)
    "CNN tries to sound balanced but just ends up repeating whatever the US administration said today."

    That's because what the US administration says is news. CNN doesn't claim it's the truth. They are only reporting what is said.
  • by Twirlip of the Mists (615030) <twirlipofthemists@yahoo.com> on Friday April 09, 2004 @08:22PM (#8822152)
    this assumes you don't buy in to Chomsky's 'Propoganda Model', which suggests that mainstream sources cover things in a manner that makes their advertisers happy, NOT necessarily the mainstream/reader-base.

    I am not an expert, but I know a thing or two about news.

    Advertisers, be they print or broadcast, do not buy space or airtime based on the editorial leanings of the news desk. They buy space or airtime based simply on the number of people that will be exposed to that space or airtime. The measurement of those numbers is not exactly a science, but it is a finely honed craft. Numbers mean everything.

    News outlets live and die by their audience numbers. An outlet with a broad reach or circulation will be more successful at securing advertising dollars than one with a smaller audience.

    So, in essence, yes. News outlets must provide the coverage that the audience wants.

    The thing about the audience, though, is that it's not homogenous. There are people out there who will read or watch just about anything. You want to deliver just-the-facts, objective news? There's an audience for that. You want to do deliver leftward-leaning analysis? There's an audience for that. You want to deliver rightward-leaning analysis? There's an audience for that. And if you want to deliver tin-foil-hat conspiracy theories or anti-establishment rants, there's an audience out there for that, too.

    The idea that all news is the same because all news outlets are competing for the same audience is bogus. Multiple news outlets exist in print, on television, on the radio, and on the web precisely because they're all reaching for different audiences.

    If a story gets ignored by the various major outlets, it's probably got nothing to do with business or audience share, and it's certainly got nothing to do with propaganda. The culture of news is such that the dissemination of propaganda is essentially impossible. Rather, if a story gets ignored, it's probably because it set off the bullshit detectors of desk editors everywhere and got bumped from the news budget accordingly.
  • Re:"Forbidden?" (Score:2, Insightful)

    by t_allardyce (48447) on Friday April 09, 2004 @08:33PM (#8822199) Journal
    Actually most things in the western world are censored, we just dont realise it. Look at Diebold coverage in the general media - its almost zero, when it should be making the front page of every paper and be the hot topic of every channel. Beef scares and wardrobe malfunctions get more coverage than a nations most basic principles and beliefs and you dont call that censorship? And dont get me started on tv censorship, in America you cant even say shit on tv. yes the western world might seem more open than other parts but we have just as much censorship - its just more advanced - instead of killing people for having some political leaflets, we have a nice advanced hierachy of various people paying eachother off for not mentioning things.
  • Re:Freenet (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Twirlip of the Mists (615030) <twirlipofthemists@yahoo.com> on Friday April 09, 2004 @08:37PM (#8822212)
    I like to think that anonymous writers could post news and opinions online and build up a reputation and be heard, like Locke and Demosthenes in "Ender's Game".

    Please recall that the two characters you mentioned were consummate liars whose only agenda was to gain power for themselves. An agenda they advanced, incidentally, by manipulating the masses by telling them what they wanted to hear.

    That's information availability, a cornerstone of democracy.

    The big challenge facing democracy in the 21st century is not the availability of information. If we've learned anything in the past fifty years, it's that information is like sand: it finds its way in through cracks and openings that were far too small to see, and fills your tent, your bunk, and your boots. The ubiquity of information is not the problem.

    The problem is thought. Have you ever heard the expression, "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing?" It's true, it's true. To be partially informed and to think yourself wise is far, far worse than to be ignorant and to know it.

    When you figure out how to write a computer program that makes people aware of the limits of their knowledge, please let me know. That'd be something worth having.
  • by timeOday (582209) on Friday April 09, 2004 @08:39PM (#8822223)
    I believe that's already on (cable and satellite) TV, is it not?

    Which raises the issue, what is censored now? Anything? I can already visit Al Jazeera [aljazeera.net] to see all the bloody babies and anti Bush views I might care to read.

    The barrier to individuals broadcasting news isn't censorship, it's credibility. The problem is, no one person's view constitutes "the news," even if they were there firsthand. Reporting news well requires access to the places and key figures, that's what news agencies offer.

  • it's a cycle (Score:2, Insightful)

    by the eighth grader (581470) on Friday April 09, 2004 @09:15PM (#8822392)
    yes, yes, the technology is interesting and so forth, but to me p2p news doesn't look much like progress. look: 1. people get news from anyone who happens (or claims) to know slightly more than they do. news is decentralized, not to say anarchic. 2. paid messengers and town criers bring news to specific people or groups. news is partly centralized, and targeted. 3. the newspaper, radio, tv are invented and anyone can buy relatively cheap, reliable (as far as they know) information. news is centralized. 4. the internet comes along, people think centralized news is censored and decide to distribute news via p2p, which is. . . 1. people getting news from anyone who happens (or claims) to know slightly more than they do.
  • Re:credibility? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Mike Hawk (687615) on Friday April 09, 2004 @10:17PM (#8822621) Journal
    You can photoshop images, but it's far more difficult to photoshop a video of some Iraqi kid videotaping a bunch of americans blowing the crap out of their parents

    But it IS pretty easy to just clip off the beginning where the parents shot at the Americans. I'm just saying. This rush to trust "anyone else" is a foolish thing. To each their own I guess.
  • Great (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LuYu (519260) on Saturday April 10, 2004 @01:02PM (#8825583) Homepage Journal

    Great! Now teenagers and old ladies can get sued by another content industry for sharing.

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