By Stuart Hall, ed.

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Additional resources for Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices (Culture, Media and Identities series)

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That scurrilous rumor about the political candidate that never makes the mainstream media but circulates in emails and blog posts probably isn’t true. The data you are pasting into your memo or term paper may well be totally fabricated. There are innumerable tools and techniques that you can use to winnow out the falsehoods, and people who work hard to help you 38 Mediactive understand what’s real and what isn’t. Here are a few of my favorites. ) Checking Out a Web Page Howard Rheingold’s Crap Detection instructions are a great place to start.

Every commercial plane crash, for example, is followed by days of brazen hypothesizing by so-called experts, but now we are fed their ideas at hourly (or briefer) intervals, rather than only on the evening news or in the daily paper—and even that frequency was too much. ), which has fed our apparently insatiable appetite for something new to talk about, should literally give us pause. Again and again, we’ve seen that initial assumptions can be grossly untrustworthy. Consider, for example, the Fort Hood shootings.

Most importantly, the charge was so inflammatory that some traditional media organizations did something unusual: They stopped simply quoting “both sides” of an issue that had a true side and a false side, and reported what was true. Of course, not all media organizations did this, and some continued to promote the falsehoods. But the issue was significant enough, and the consequences alarming enough if the charges had been true, that many people spent the extra time it took to figure out what they could trust.

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