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Why Do Newspapers Keep Publishing Bogus Piracy Numbers From Lobbyists As Fact?

from the why-newspapers-are-dying dept

With all this whining about how the death of newspapers will somehow lead to the "end" of investigative reporting, it has to be asked why newspaper reporters never seem to tire of rewriting industry press releases full of bogus numbers as factual? If newspaper reporters are really so great at investigative reporting -- shouldn't they be questioning the bogus stats? We've seen this for years in reports on "piracy" stats, which are almost always calculated by industry lobbyists who have every incentive in the world to blow the numbers out of proportion. Looking at the details, it's not at all difficult for anyone to realize that the stats are completely bogus -- but, for some reason, these lobbyists can always find press willing to restate the numbers as fact, and that often leads to a nice virtuous circle, whereby industry lobbyists and politicians can then point to the news report to support their bogus piracy numbers.

The latest gullible reporter? Tony Wong of the Toronto Star, who has written an article that probably could have been written every year for the last decade about the awful threat of piracy to the satellite TV industry. What's amusing is that it really does look just like an article years ago, even quoting bogus 2001 "piracy" stats and then just saying "that number is likely far higher today." But the reporter does nothing to verify this at all. He then goes on to talk about how the satellite TV companies are "fighting back," with a "tough new encryption system." I remember reading nearly identical stories from a decade ago, about some great new encryption scheme that would wipe out satellite TV piracy. Yet here we are in 2009, rather than 1999, reading the exact same article. Isn't it the reporters' job to ask questions about both the bogus basis for the numbers and the fact that the industry has been trotting out the same "fighting back! stronger encryption!" story for over a decade? No wonder newspapers are collapsing.

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  1. identicon
    Weird Harold, 22 Mar 2009 @ 7:28am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: WH

    If you are subscribing to 700 to get 3 or 4, you need to learn how to fix you subscriptions. Even in Canada with insane protectionist 5 to 1 and 6 to 1 ratios, you can within reason subbscribe a la carte to specific channels or packages to get only what you want.

    "If a law would make a large enough number of citizens criminals, its NOT a valid law." that would suggest that if enough people break a law, it isn't valid, so if you can get a big enough mob together, you can make anything legal - including murder? Sorry, your fail whale arrived on that one.

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