Journalism: A realistic portrayal of the Australian wildfires scope

Journalism: A realistic portrayal of the Australian wildfires scope

The graphic shows the equivalent square miles to the acreage burned in Australian wildfires. Its a huge mess of fires but this provides tremendous context to the scope. ABC (US) News ran a graphic implying that about one third of Australia was on fire 🙂 The accurate portrayal, in this Google Map, was created by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Update January 10, 2020: 1.1% of Australia’s land mass has burned, 98.9% has not yet burned. This compares to 15% of Australia’s total land mass burning in the summer of 1974-1975.

Journalism: CNN settles lawsuit with Nick Sandmann

Journalism: CNN settles lawsuit with Nick Sandmann

CNN and many media outlets falsely reported on a confrontation that occurred in Washington DC in January 2019. The media had the story backwards, reversed from what actually occurred, with many media outlets falsely accusing students of racism. Today, CNN has settled the lawsuit filed against them. Several related lawsuits remain pending.

Privacy: Surveillance tech goes mainstream at CES

Privacy: Surveillance tech goes mainstream at CES

The sole purpose of technology has morphed into 24 x 7 surveillance. Even the FAA’s new proposed rules for “remote ID” of small UAS (model aircraft) will require that you transmit once per second, in real time, details of your flight and who is flying, into an Internet connected FAA database accessible by law enforcement even from inside your own home. There might be a problem with the 4th Amendment on that latter point but no one seems to care. It’s spying on everyone, all the time.

Journalism: “Oregon ranks high in rising rate of natural disasters”

Journalism: “Oregon ranks high in rising rate of natural disasters”

The news headline says Oregon ranks high in natural disasters, which the text explains, is wildfires in the State.

This claim comes from a press release from a small, little known online Internet insurance sales web site. This type of press release is put out in hopes of garnering free publicity – and it certainly worked for them – in large part because the media, like all of us, is more likely to succumb to a fear-based scary headline.

However, if we practice factfulness and look at the long term trend in Oregon fires we see that a small rise at the right end of the chart has been translated into a crisis and a catastrophe. The chart above is the official chart from the Oregon government’s Fire Statistics page, and shows actual acreage burned and total fires burned in Oregon since 1911.

The slight increase at the extreme right edge is the basis for the scary headline. By leaving out all historical context and by focusing on large percentile increase in a tiny number at the right edge of the chart, the media creates unwarranted fear and hysteria in viewers.

Social media: Social media meme asserts U.S. corn belt yields 40% more oxygen than the Amazon

Social media: Social media meme asserts U.S. corn belt yields 40% more oxygen than the Amazon

This poster is a persuasive bit of propaganda. Most of it is not true. The parts that are true are that the Corn belt is a very productive region, and about 80 million acres (close to 100 million in the poster?) are growing corn. This item had been shared into my Facebook news feed.

Journalism: “Fears of economic recession could derail the holiday shopping season – MarketWatch” – Social Panic

Journalism: “Fears of economic recession could derail the holiday shopping season – MarketWatch” – Social Panic

A month ago, the media gave us scary stories that “Fears of an economic recession could derail the holiday shopping season”. Actual sales rose by +3.4% year over year, even with a shopping season that was six days shorter than the prior year. Unfortunately, mindless speculative “news” is used to fill up air time and web page time with something new.

Climate communications: Reporting focused on fear and hysteria, rather than solutions, leads to anxiety attacks, medicating young people

Climate communications: Reporting focused on fear and hysteria, rather than solutions, leads to anxiety attacks, medicating young people

The media’s focus on scary, fear-based propaganda messaging – and avoidance of discussing workable solutions that are already underway – leads to intense negativity and anxiety. The result has been a majority of young people believing humanity may be extinct in ten years, even though there is zero evidence to support such nonsense. We are literally scaring people to death via false and inappropriate propaganda messaging. Some journalists are looking to “solutions journalism” moving away from the whining negativity of current news reports that focus on problems and seldom examine workable solutions,. This new approach offers hope and a positive way forward.

Journalism: Cable news is biased towards “drama and conflict”

Journalism: Cable news is biased towards “drama and conflict”

And as noted in the linked column, almost no one watches cable TV news: viewership is just 1% to 2% of the population. But its focus is on emotional click-bait creating shareable content for social media – and the perpetually outraged culture. Ultimately, cable TV news, say studies, leave you dumber and misinformed.

Privacy: Cell phone tracking data used to discover your political preferences, which could be used against you

Privacy: Cell phone tracking data used to discover your political preferences, which could be used against you

Location data may be used to discern the political interests and activities of the cell phone user. This information could be used in ways to intimidate those with political interests contrary to those with power to use this information against you.