Thursday, November 29, 2007

Your computer may be part of criminal network

The title of this post is the same as the CNN title of what appears to be the 6th most important thing happening in the world (or maybe just the US) at 10pm EST tonight. Essentially, they took a non-news story and cleverly crafted it to the most inflammatory, eye-catching headline they could.

The fact that millions of personal computers serve as a bots in these spam bot networks is a known fact and this situation has existed for many, many years. This is not news to anyone that knows of such things, and is very, very late news for anyone that does not. Still, because someone, somewhere, issued a press release that was news to the generally technically-naive CNN reporter(s)/editor(s), this was clearly something they needed to report as "breaking news". Then someone at CNN decides to do it in a way that would have the highest emotional impact among people that were just as naive about such things (since all great journalism tries to cater to the lowest common denominator). If I were the unscrupulous editor-in-charge, I would have boiled down the headline to say:

"Your computer is a criminal!"

Maybe this might be a little too obvious that we were depending on the shock factor to lure readers in, so maybe the editors made the right choice in their toned-down headline. Then again, just removing the exclamation point might be enough to turn that 'National Enquirer' headline, into being CNN-worthy.

Just another example of how rare good journalism is in this day and age. It seems two types of people dominate in today's media: the naive lower-level journalists and the corrupt editors that are in someone's pocket. That's a very, very bad combination.

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