Circuits Fried

Jay Rosen explains how a compulsive liar fries pressthink circuits that have been overheating since LBJ. In point 3 of 6 he draws an analogy to my 'technical debt' metaphor and gets it more right than most technologists. post

Election coverage fails to seriously address the abuse heaped on it by the right wing. The system was working, things changed, but the press didn't. Now it observes its own total dysfunction helpless to do anything sensible with the continuous stream of lies from Trump.

Campaign coverage had problems akin to the build up of “technical debt.” An idea which Rosen attributes to Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo.

"I read Marshall’s analysis and thought: the same thing happened in a different way to political journalists. They should have found a way to deal with “a balanced treatment of an unbalanced phenomenon distorts reality,” but they kept putting it off, even though they knew that something was happening to the Republican Party that wasn’t happening to the Democrats. They should have built asymmetric polarization into their mental model but it was a lot of work and “both sides do it” was too comforting, too attractive.

The public is mad about this breakdown. The first comment to Rosen's post confused his press criticism with that criticised. It was difficult to read but got better.

William Pietri explained the metaphor again. "As a programmer, I think your use of the technical debt metaphor is appropriate. One of the things that makes too much technical debt so dangerous is the way it gives each individual an incentive to make the the problem ever so slightly worse. The toll it takes leaves people with an ever-decreasing share of time and attention to recognize and confront the problem.

I'm annoyed by technologists who think I am referring to slipshod work from the beginning. This is not the case for journalism or any of the software systems I find interesting. Good decisions must be revisited when a system confronts new challenges. Failure to incrementally adapt leads to eventual total disfunction.

Rosen explains, "What journalists say back when they are criticized for mishandling coverage of Trump." post