The Value of Trust vs Objectivity in Publishing Business Models

Dan Gillmor recently posted a speech he gave at Columbia University:

I'd propose replacing the ideal of objectivity with some principles that may be easier to achieve.

The principles that collectively go beyond objectivity are thoroughness, accuracy, fairness, independence and transparency. Of course, they tend to bleed into each other, and in a several cases can even conflict or at least be somewhat orthogonal. I put this problem into the category of "Life is messy."

Microsoft recently was said to pay hundreds of millions of dollars for a company that puts ads in video games. The military, disturbingly enough, is also creating advergames targeted at children:

Even the U.S. Defense Department has adopted the model, creating a combat games called "America's Army" to be used as a recruiting tool.

Objectivity is highly flawed due to its parroting effect.

In a world where

  • traditional publishing business models are dying (due to new information streams and the decay of inefficient monopolies)
  • in most markets it is more profitable to create highly biased or low quality content (due to increased conversion rates or search algorithm inefficiencies)
  • the cost of creating content drops daily
  • nearly anyone can create content
  • companies make hypocritical clams to misdirect the media
  • those claims spread quickly
  • information systems are as easy to manipulate as the media is
  • the price of attention increases daily (more people are fighting for it)
  • most content creators become marketers fighting for attention
  • people create fake controversies for attention
  • ads become content
  • everything is an ad

TRUST is going to be worth far more than objectivity.

Published: May 3, 2006

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