A few posts back (Feb.6, 2009) I talked about corporate concentration of ownership of media and the impact that has on information-gathering. My example was the Environment Canada nanotechnology information-gathering exercise that was announced, oddly, by the US-based Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies and written about in an article by John Cotter for Canadian Press. It’s a little more complicated than just ‘corporate concentration’ but I’ll start there.
Media conglomerates own newspapers, radio and tv stations, and various internet properties and it’s usually understood that the corporate owners are going to represent their interests in the stories that are published and broadcast. Not all corporate owners have the same perspective, however with fewer owners there are fewer perspectives. When you add the cost incentive to centralize research and news gathering so that one article can be the source for newspapers and radio and tv and the internet (as per John Cotter’s article), it’s obvious that there’s another shrinkage of perspective and source for factual information.
Interestingly, Wikipedia (it’s not a corporate media conglomerate!) provides an object lesson on what happens when everyone is relying on a single source. An article on Techdirt casts a light on a situation involving Germany’s new minister of economic affairs. He has an extraordinarily long name which was written up in an article on Wikipedia that reporters used as their source. when writing up his name. Unfortunately, someone played a trick and introduced an error into the name and the incorrect version got published in newspapers. It gets funny when Wikipedia corrects the error but someone changes the name back to the wrong version because they saw an article in the paper, which they took to be the authoritative and correct version of the name. Do read the article.
It’s tough to get the facts right but it sure helps if you understand some of the problems you can right into despite your best efforts and these things serve as good reminder to myself because it’s so easy to forget.
Meanwhile for something completely different, there’s a call for papers from Nanoethics Asia 2009 (to be held Aug. 26-28,2009 at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand)
The purpose of the Workshop is to stimulate and gather ground breaking research in all areas related to the ethical, social, cultural, and legal implications of what is broadly construed as “nanotechnology, ” especially as these implications arise from within the contexts of Asia and other non- Western regions.
You can go here for more information.
At some point in the next few weeks I will be updating things on the website. Hopefully, this will be a relatively painless process.