The lab-leak theory coverage fiasco | Why people read what they do | Plagiarism in VOA

The lab-leak theory coverage fiasco: Progressive media failed in their coverage of the theory that COVID-19 was leaked from a Chinese lab, says Jonathan Chait in New York Magazine. No virus origin theory has been proven or disproven, but the liberal media leapt at an opportunity to criticize anyone who may have believed the lab-leak theory and used Twitter as a place to channel right-wing accusations. The cause of the virus is still not clear. But for progressive media to accuse anyone who backs this theory of having political motives points to the confirmation bias and polarization that can happen on Twitter, said Chait. Progressive journalists’ coverage of this theory mirrors the “idiotic conformity of the right’s pseudo-journalistic apparatus,” and journalists on the left need to be more careful online if they want to be credible news sources, says Chait. 

Why people read what they do: Political leanings matter less than you would think when it comes to how digital news consumers select the stories that they read, writes Jesse Holcomb for the Knight Foundation. For the study, Gallup and the Knight Foundation developed Newslens, an online platform meant to mimic a real news site that provided stories from mainstream media sources from across the political spectrum. Using the analytics generated from the site, researchers showed that readers read more of what was personally relevant to them and what would give them the most information, and they weren’t necessarily driven entirely (or even a lot) by their political opinions. These results are what researchers can learn about news consumption patterns from readers without directly asking them, says Holcomb, and may be a more accurate method of studying how people approach the news. 

Plagiarism in VOA: When a Voice of America staffer discovered that there was plagiarism coming from a Paris-based freelancer, it took months before the supervisors he alerted actually took action. When the same thing happened a second time with a different staffer and a different reporter, the time it took for the alert to be processed was even longer. Voice of America is federally funded and is meant to be reliable and consistent, and the length of time that it took for supervisors and managers to pay attention to evidence of plagiarism is certainly notable, writes Paul Farhi in the Washington Post. Since last summer, the accused plagiarizers have been investigated and much of their content has been replaced with an online flag citing plagiarism.

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