Thursday 13 December 2007

Beware the Christmas Trolls

Journalists are key professionals in an information based democracy — They get blamed for all sorts of things, but good professional journalism is good for us all. Good journalists go out and report news. They also comment on it editorially. They have the same right to commentate as anyone else, and rather a stronger information base from which to do it than most of us. Lazy journalists, if any exist, know they can't just make up stories.

Or can they? You could do something like this. Send a round robin to all RAF officers asking, for example, "Is the space shuttle a technological miracle or an expensive white elephant? Yes, no, don't know". People who are silly enough to reply tick all sorts of boxes in response to ambiguous and loaded questions — in that lies your story. It enables you to splash an exclusive that 56% of RAF officers don't believe in aviation, or hate America. Whatever. You don't even have to leave the office, or deplete your stock of rentaquotes. Easy, Cheap, Fun... and Crap.

Serious research, of course, is carefully set up so that the results mean something. Shock Horror surveys initiated by lazy journalists at a time of year none of us wants to be out and about only prove the old saying — Research indicates that 98·6% of surveys are rubbish.

Friends, we are being Trolled.

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