This Week in the Mercury


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

What's He Building in There?

Posted by Paul Constant on Wed, May 9, 2012 at 10:59 AM

Sometime this summer, Cheezburger CEO Ben Huh is expected to launch his new site, Circa. Circa is supposed to be a reimagining of news sites for the web. Of course, news has been reimagined for the web dozens of times now, and the most successful reimaginations to date involve aggregating un-reimagined news sources as a series of snappy headlines. Still, I'm very curious to see what Huh manages to do with news.

For a little peek at the thinking behind Circa, you should read this Neiman Journalism Lab interview with Huh about what he thinks the future of journalism looks like:

I think — among entrepreneurs, too — there’s an idealistic notion that there is a truth, a singular one truth. Among journalists, there is “the truth,” slightly liberal, slightly populist, but most of the time it’s “We’re the truth.” If you ask the people who watch Fox News who is credible, they’ll tell you Bill O’Reilly is credible. Maybe I disagree. Maybe I believe that he stretches truths a lot, but the fact of the matter is, it’s human biology to seek out shared perspective.

Creating a singular measure of credibility is a slippery slope to censorship. Like, “Oh, these people are not credible, so maybe we should all act in concert to not print their things,” or discard them. The world’s greatest ideas come from the crazies, the people on the fringe. For a while, they’re not credible, but then one day they are. So that’s a very, very dangerous idea. It smacks of centralized mind-control to me. And I’m probably extrapolating from what he’s saying really to the extreme, and I’m sure there are good ideas, but a universal credibility measure? Even if they could create such a thing, why would you? It’s very Orwellian. I don’t like that idea at all...Facts are very important. Facts are absolutely important. What society’s gotten really good at — we’re actually really good at the facts. What we’re really bad at is the dissemination of value-added interpretation of the facts.

You know what? He's absolutely right about this. I would rather have my choice of ten thousand unique news sources that boldly trumpeted their ideology, so I could see events and newsmakers through a whole spectrum of perspectives. I think that's a media that's more in line with the internet than a dozen big, mediocre "objective" outlets. After reading this interview, I can't wait to see what Huh comes up with.

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