Not wanting to review an article on ISIS, Ebola, Ferguson, Michael Brown, Ray Rice, Darren Wilson or Bill Cosby, all of which I think has been done to death (no pun intended), I thought maybe I would review a lighter fare article.  So I went to the Entertainment Weekly website (Entertainment Weekly is one of Time Inc.’s magazines) and found a wealth of articles.  But after reading a few I realized that they were all public relations vehicles for the celebrities featured.  I guess that is why I discontinued my subscription to US Weekly.  Still searching, I came across this article in FortuneThe war on drugs comes to Corporate America (http://fortune.com/2014/12/02/drug-war-corporate-america-silk-road/).  This article is one of the best written articles that I have read in a long time.  Concise and to the point, the reporter, Chris Matthews[1], uses ordinary words to tell the story but does not talk down to the reader.  His primary sources are easily accessed by a hyperlink to another article, website or the actual court documents filed.

The first source is the actual complaint[1] filed in the Southern New York District Court against Mr. Ross William Ulbricht, the accused and main subject of the article.  The second source is an article from The Daily Dot[2], an on-line newspaper founded in 2011 and based in Austin, TX.  I have never heard of this “paper” before but online reviews seem to endorse it as a reputable informational source.  The third source that Mr. Matthews used is Wired[3] magazine.

The article shifts gears a little to relate how FedEx (the delivery giant) has also been indicted for the illegal transportation of drugs.  Again Mr. Matthews links us to the actual federal complaint[4] filed in US District Court (San Francisco).

The two direct quotes in the article are not only cited in the body of the article but he also provides a link to the actual sources of the quotes – the first from a corporate statement issued by FedEx[5] and the other from Businessweek[6].

In summarizing his report, Mr. Matthews contrasted the indictments against public opinion on the war on drugs.  Here, he points out the inconveniences that banks face with policing bank accounts in an effort to “root out drug dealers and tax evaders”[7] and the increase in the public’s desire to rehabilitate drug dealers and users instead of prosecution.  The sources for his summation are all credible, The Pew Research Center[8], Bloomberg[9] and Matt Groff[10] (I have never heard of this person but I looked at his LinkedIn profile and it states that he is a data analyst).

Most of the sources that Mr. Matthews uses are established publications with the exception of a corporate statement (which in this instance is a credible direct quote as it was taken directly from the statement and not paraphrased).  The other quote was also taken directly from the source (Businessweek).  All sources are current (one was posted in 2012, while the rest were posted this year).

Using the guidelines found in Criteria to Evaluate the Credibility of WWW Resources, although there was no proof that Mr. Matthews is an expert on the subject matter, I found that based on the meticulous research that he did for this article, I would feel very comfortable passing along the information to others without hesitation and maybe even using it as a source myself.  Other criteria include 1) it was done for a credible periodical (Fortune), and 2) Mr. Matthews refrained from inserting his own opinions even though it would have been quite easy to do so in his summation.

BLOGGING & SOCIAL MEDIA: Do I trust information from “bloggers”?  No.  I view blogging as an amusement or an editorial.  A personal forum where anybody (and I mean anybody) can voice their opinions or random thoughts (which we are all entitled to express but I don’t have to listen).  The information contained therein as far as I am concerned is totally biased and carries no weight when it comes to credibility, even if the writer is a professional journalist.  Yes, I do realize that this is a BLOG but that is my point exactly.

Social Media is no different.  The fact that Facebook, Twitter and the others allow the masses to be their own news source, it has diluted the credibility of news.  In a sense it has allowed for different views to be seen but that does not make it any more reliable or credible in the long run it just confuses the issues more.  When the news was presented by the newspapers and the broadcast media, we had fairly consistent information that was verified because they had the time to do so; it was rare that they made any errors in the facts.  One could turn on the evening news at 6:00 or 7:00 pm and it was the same set of stories on all of them.  The same could be said for the newspapers.  It made for cookie cutter news but at least it wasn’t confusing.  But with social media and “instant news” we are inundated by so many different versions of the same story, much of it unverified, that we really cannot decipher what really happened (Kovach & Rosenstiel, 2010).  It brings to mind the poem The Blind Men and the Elephant (2002) by John Godfrey Saxe (1817 – 1887), where they are all describing the same thing but each “seeing” it differently.

References:

John, G. S. (2000). The blind men and the elephant. Ophthalmology Times, 25(5), 30. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.snhu.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/195749733?accountid=3783

Kovach, B., & Rosenstiel, T. (2010). Blur: How To Know What’s True I n The Age Of Information Overload. New York, London, New Delhi, Sydney: Bloomsbury.

Matthews, C. (2014, 12 02). The war on drugs comes to Corporate America. Retrieved from Fortune: http://fortune.com/2014/12/02/drug-war-corporate-america-silk-road/

 

 

[1] Not the pundit, this Chris Matthews is Christopher Robert Matthews a print journalist.

[1] http://computersweden.idg.se/polopoly_fs/1.526338.1380735946!172773407-ulbricht-criminal-complaint-silk-road.pdf

[2] http://www.dailydot.com/crime/silk-road-murder-charges-ross-ulbricht/

[3] http://www.wired.com/2014/09/fbi-silk-road-hacking-question/

[4] http://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/usao-ndca/legacy/2014/07/17/FedEx%20Indictment%20-%20July%2017%2C%202014.pdf

[5] http://news.van.fedex.com/Updated_DOJ_Statement

[6] http://www.businessweek.com/news/2014-07-17/fedex-indicted-for-distributing-controlled-drugs-online

[7] http://www.americanbanker.com/news/consumer-finance/whats-behind-the-uptick-in-bsa-enforcement-1068937-1.html

[8] http://www.people-press.org/files/legacy-pdf/04-02-14%20Drug%20Policy%20Release.pdf

[9] http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-07-02/hsbc-judge-approves-1-9b-drug-money-laundering-accord.html

[10] http://www.mattgroff.com/questions-on-the-1315-project-chart/

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