When discussing how no single writer or publisher knows as much about a story than all of the experts in the world combined, Robin Miller makes a whopping claim:
With thousands of readers as fact-checkers, mistakes would rarely go uncorrected for long…
That’s a huge assumption, requiring you to believe also that:
- Thousands of readers know the facts
- Some significant percentage of those readers will make corrections
- Those corrections represent the truth and not the opinions or biases of the correctors
- You can tell true corrections from false ones
- People read the comments!
Having read press releases and seen demonstrations staged for the mutual benefit of television cameras, I believe more strongly in the ability of a small group of people dedicated to manipulating the press (however willingly) than in the as-yet unproven ability or desire of a larger group of disinterested people to report more accurately on an issue they don’t care about.
More bluntly, unless you become an investigative reporter yourself, how can you tell a legitimate correction from deliberate misleading published by someone with an agenda? Does the loudest voice win? Does the most popular opinion win? Does the last edit win? Do you flip a coin?
Are Robin’s ideas bad? Not at all! Giving people more information about more perspectives about an event probably does improve the chances of knowing what really happened and why.
However, I just can’t believe that merely allowing feedback from anyone, regardless of experience, bias, knowledge, or skill, means that the truth is suddenly obvious and easy and widespread. The Internet doesn’t magically solve epistemological problems.
Here’s where you register a dozen different accounts and tell me I’m wrong.