Friday, October 1, 2010

Rated for Everyone

Disclaimer: This internet content is strictly opinion-based. While it may be based on some fact, it should not be taken at face value as any sort of journalistic news gathering. There is no explicit material. I don’t have a record of reporting fabricated material as fact, but I do tend to come from a more left/liberal perspective.

I got so excited when we started talking about rating systems in class. Maybe it is silly, but I have always wondered if there should be some sort of rating system for where people are getting their information. Not censorship. Not some kind of overreaching, controlling system, just a measure of content as compared to other content. Today, parents use existing measurements to help guide them what to let their children watch, youporn warns you explicitly that you are about to enter a page with material meant for adults only, you are warned before surgery shows that material may be graphic and not suitable for everyone, and even blogs are flagged these days as having strong content.

Should there be s system on labeling shows and websites with rating? Should we know something about their reputation on legitimacy, fact-checking, whether or not they are opinion based, and so forth? I do not want to get into the logistics of it, but maybe it can be done, and in an unimposing, non censoring, non dictatorial way. Is it is feasible? Ethical? Is it out responsibility, or the individual’s?


  1. I can only speak for myself, but I think any organization or medium that delivers news should put forth what their bias is. It's kind of a joke now, but Fox deems itself as "Fair and Balanced" and it only reports actual hard news for a couple of blocks a day (8am-11am, 1pm-4pm, for example). CNN says they're the most trusted name in news, yet I remember (now former) anchor Rick Sanchez flipping out over that earth quake in Chile before identifying the Galapagos Islands as Hawaii. I don't think that having them declare their bias would be censorship, it would just be informative to the viewer. Of course, it does make the viewer a bit lazy about going out there and taking responsibility to find an objective news source. I also think that in the race to report breaking news first, fact checking does go out the window on all cable news stations. They perpetuate and circulate a story in an attempt to get more viewers and more ad revenue. So the delivery of the news becomes the focus, not the story being reported. I forget the woman's name, but she was fired by the Dept. of Agriculture for a clip of a speech she gave about racism, yet the clip that was shown over and over wasn't the whole speech and no news outlet thought to check it until 24 hours had passed.

  2. In another class of mine, conflict is addressed in a sort of similar way... In some- mostly non western- cultures if two people get into a physical altercation where the bystanders did nothing to intervene, they are indirectly as guilty for allowing the fight to occur. In Western cultures not even the two involved in the fight would claim to be held responsible. I think the rating system comes under so much fire in the US for the same reasons. We are such an individualistic society that it would never really function, whereas it might have a shot in non-Western collectivist societies.

  3. In response to Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life's recent survey on Religion, atheists in America seemed to be the highest scorers on religious knowledge. This would supplement the belief that in order to create an atheist, all one has to do is give them the Bible. (Disclaimer, I'm not supporting the statement, just using it to make a point). Unless we know what we don't want, it’s harder to know what we do. So do I think that all things should be rated, because we might find out that we don't like them, or heaven forbid, are offended by them? If you couldn't detect the sarcasm there, the answer is no. I don't think that everything should be rated. Thus the same reason I am continually amused by the banned book list (which just ended last weekend). Restricting information from people generally can have two negative effects: the one that happened during the prohibition, or the shielding and overprotectivism that seems to be permeating our society. Now, that is not to say that I am a proponent of a toddler coming across Hugh's Bunny House or a documentary of the Holocaust. So moral of the story is, yes I agree with the original posting that things should not be censored--but even as for the warnings, I'm a bit skeptical.