Here we are again…

Well, here we are… once again we in the Linux Community are dealing with the lack of quality news reporting. This most recent event falls squarely on the shoulders of Phoronix. They are not the only one responsible for the state of Linux News, but in this particular case… Michael is directly responsible.

What am I talking about? Well let me give you a rundown. Michael came by some information about Manjaro developers leaving the distribution. No big deal, that happens; people move on. But that’s not sexy enough to drive clicks. So what we need here is a really flagrant title, one like: “Manjaro Linux Developers Experience A Mass Exodus”.

Now in the real world of news reporting, there is this thing called ‘Verification’, wherein, you try to independantly verify from multiple sources the information you are researching. You contact multiple people, you get the story from different angles, and then you decided what you are going to write. But in todays fast paced ‘Get the story out first’ online news reporting, that step gets lost. Sites want to be the first one to release news, why…? Because the first to report gets the clicks, and in this world. Clicks = Money. We have sacrified Truth for convenience and money.

But there’s a more ugly deceitful side; intentionally NOT verifying information can sometimes create a lot of drama. And drama my friends… well… Drama = Clicks. So whats our mantra? – Get the story out first! – If its wrong and creates drama no problem — that’s a plus, it’ll drive more traffic to our site. We can later ‘retract’ any false information once we’ve actually been presented with the correct information.
It’s simple math.
Drama = Clicks. Click = Money. Thus: Drama = Money.

This is utterly and totally disgraceful. In the Linux Community and greater FLOSS Community, getting in touch with someone at a project is extremely easy. It doesn’t take much time and effort to verify information from a developer or from one of our communities. So, I dont think I’m being to egregious here when I expect that any site wishing to be a News Source, needs to be willing to put forth some effort before reporting on anything. I dont want to blatantly claim that Michael doesnt care about reporting falsehoods.  However, considering reporting false news creates drama which has the effect of driving more revenue for him… I don’t feel I’m too off-base in thinking that perhaps he doesn’t focus on verification as much as he should.
What leads me to feel that perhaps Money is more a driving factor for him than Truth? Well, here’s a perfect example:

When I load the main Phoronix page, I am presented with not only pop-up ads which must be loaded before I can cloase them, but a slew of on-page ads as well. I realize sites cost money to run; I’m not a moron, I get that. But there’s a limit to what’s acceptable. But sadly, it doesnt even stop there. Ghostery reports 27 tracking systems. Now I realize that some of those aren’t as bad as others. But there is no reason to have 27 of them, other than to generate revenue through allowing those companies to track visitors to Phoronix’s site. To have 27 is downright deplorable, and to me, shows that money is more important than anything else. By contrast, has four.  Even a site like Huffington Post, a site that’s designed to work on aggregation, has 18.
Individually these two things are annoying.  Taken together, it leads me to believe there is an intentional design to harness as much money as possible at the expense of the truth and user privacy.

But for me, the saddest part is that we as a community have continued to allow this to happen. Several times a year we have an instance where some news site will get something so horribly wrong that it creates a huge clusterf*ck. We will deal with the drama and the infighting for a few weeks before we’re able to get back to work and focus on what matters, only to have to deal with the same situation again in a few months. That we as a community have accepted this as the status quo is shameful.

We like to tout ourselves as enlightened. We like to think we are showing the world a better way for development, collaboration, and social contructs… and yet we still accept disgraceful reporting of this nature.

So I ask, can we, or more importantly, will we demand better than for this to continue?


Disclaimer: I dont mean this to be a personal attack against Michael at all, he just happens to be the unlucky person who’s caused the lastest dramafest by reporting falsehoods — and so he’s the focus of this mini-rant of mine.