NYT, SOPA and Internet Factchecking

19 January 2012 — Fairness & Accuracy In ReportingToday

Remember last week’s uproar about the New York Times and factchecking? In today’s paper, we see a great example of how this works.

Former Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd’s new job is as a lobbyist for the Motion Picture Association of America, which means he’s leading the charge in support of SOPA, the bill that big media companies believe will stop online ‘piracy.’ Opponents see it as a potentially devastating blow to free speech on the Internet, and they seem to have had great success in turning the tide of the debate. This is not good news for people like Dodd, the Times reports:

Mr. Dodd said Internet companies might well change Washington, but not necessarily for the better with their ability to spread their message globally, without regulation or factchecking.

‘It’s a new day,’ he added. ‘Brace yourselves.’

That’s right, people–through the magic of the Internet, misinformation will spread without being checked. Not like the old days, when newspapers stepped in to stop this stuff from spreading. Just two paragraphs later, the Times reports this claim from the MPAA:

The Motion Picture Association of America says its industry brings back more export income than aerospace, automobiles or agriculture, and that piracy costs the country as many as 100,000 jobs.

Do the MPAA’s jobs claims add up? They’ve been challenged on their research throughout this debate; is there any reason to believe these figures are any more reliable? It’s something readers can check for themselves on the Internet. But that’s where nothing is ever factchecked.

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