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Disinformation, Security & Librarian Ethics

Kathleen writes "Librarians are encouraged to raise public awareness regarding the many ways in which disinformation and media manipulation are being used to mislead public opinion in all spheres of life. Here again is another example where we must be vigilant.

The Bush administration has been pressuring newspaper editors as reported by Howard Kurtz in the Washington Post :
Peter Ferrara of the Institute for Policy Innovation has acknowledged taking payments years ago from a half-dozen lobbyists, including Abramoff...

"There is nothing unethical about taking money from someone and writing an article."

The ALA encourages its members to help raise public consciousness regarding the many ways in which disinformation and media manipulation are being used to mislead public opinion in all spheres of life, and further encourages librarians to facilitate this awareness with collection development, library programming and public outreach that draws the public's attention to those alternative sources of information dedicated to countering and revealing the disinformation often purveyed by the mainstream media"


The fact that the Bush administration attempts to get its own side of the story told does not preclude that their side is providing 'disinformation'. That is an act of disinformation on McCook's part.

Since I was going to write a general comment before I saw your post, I just want to point out that as long as there is disclosure, I do not believe there is anything wrong with taking money from a lobbyist and writing an article. It's also true that writing an article for pay doesn't automatically make that article false, just as writing an article for free doesn't automatically make that article true.But I have to assert that this Administration use of paid columnists and journalists goes far beyond "getting its side of the story out." With all the communications channels at its command, I just don't see why it needs to present gov't/lobbyist paid essays and stories as supposedly unbiased information. And when it is US tax dollars used to push a purely partisan point of view like in NCLB and the Medicare plans, I find that to be both offensive and a case of disinformation -- because a paid partisan is being presented as a disinterested observer. For the record, the (Republican-controlled) Congressional Government Accountability Office has found some of the Adminstration's actions to be unacceptable covert propaganda, which seems to be a form of disinformation to me.And yes, if the Clinton Administration has done similar things, I'd find them offensive too.

If librarians and the ALA would vociferously speak out against the disinformation spread by the media as it relates to libraries, librarians, and the ALA we would be far ahead.

As it stands the ALA home page - where most library patrons would go to first- has a wonderful story about the hoax perpetrated upon the profession by some misguided college student, two impressionable college professors and one reporter who apparently lacks basic journalistic skills such as fact checking and interviewing primary sources.

Sorry, that was my dementia kicking in, the ALA has nothing about the Mao ILL hoax, but it does have a wonderful article about a library interior design contest (which by the way does not, and has not worked for several days -it only generates error pages).

One man's disinformation is another man's opinion piece.

Partisans might believe that stories planted by Mr. Abramoff are Bush administration attempts to get its own side of the story told...but it would be a poor librarian who would fail to point out to patrons that stories paid for by Mr. Abramoff were planted and paid for rather than reliable journalism.

One man's disinformation is another man's opinion piece.

There is absolutely no problem with any opinion piece that is labeled as an opinion peice.

There is absolutely no problem with paying someone to tell your side of the stroy if the resulting article is labeled as a paid story placement.

The problem comes in disguising an opinion peice as an objective news story (which both the left and the right do) or pretending that a paid peice is something other than a paid piece (so far only the current administration has been caught doing this, but if it comes to light that politians on the left are doing it as well, I will give equal condemnation to all guilty parties regardless of affiliation.)

My last sentence was an attempt at humor. I should know better than attempting that.

But I don't disagree with your points.

so can we now start placing labels in all those copies of Arming America? What about "Natural Cures 'They' Don't Want You To Know About?"

Everyone's got an agenda. A free press is a biased press. There isn't a book, magazine, or newspaper on our shelves that isn't pushing someone's view. For it to be a librarian's job to start questioning every work that comes down the pike is a complete misrepresentation of our profession because its a complete waste of time.