Information online not always factual

The Internet has many great qualities. You can send information, pictures and video around the world almost instantly. It’s funny how that also seems to be one of the Internet’s biggest downfalls.

Anyone with a computer and an ax to grind can say just about anything about anyone. Sadly, the Internet is largely an unfiltered and unregulated dumping ground that’s rife with thoughtless, rude and hateful comments about even the simplest things.

We once entertained the idea of providing readers with links to a cool video of the day on … that is until you read the disgusting comments, put-downs and otherwise rude behavior that goes with many of the videos, not by the people who post them, but by the viewers. Sorry, we’re not providing links to that type of trash.

That’s not really the worst of it. When it’s obvious that someone is being rude, you know exactly where to file it. But what about information that seems plausible and credible?

Since anyone with a computer can have a website about anything, such as cars, how do you know that what you’re reading is good info? Fair comment and informative stories are always welcome. And that’s likely what you’ve come to expect from this newspaper.

The powers that be won’t stand for the type of brainless nonsense that goes on in the vast expanse of the Internet. And. frankly, if we wrote the kind of garbage you see on some websites, we wouldn’t be in business now.

It costs big money for solid reporting, editing and to have news agencies such as The Associated Press and Reuters put people all over the globe so that when you open your paper, you can feel confident that someone has spent time sifting through the news to give you all the important stuff. Not bad for the price of a cup of coffee.

I think we’ve become really spoiled and take our newspapers for granted. How so? Without them, we would not only have no idea what’s going on in our towns (I don’t care what any website professes to provide) but often what little information you would find online stands a better chance of being wrong. Parasitic revenue losses to the Internet should not fool anyone into thinking the information out there is somehow better than what you’ll find in your newspaper. Quite the contrary. It only takes a short time hunting around online to make this blatantly obvious.

I’m not saying that newspapers are perfect. But they’re still the most credible source for news of all types, mostly because there are so many eyes watching what goes on. The same goes for many other print publications in the auto world, not to mention websites. Many newspaper reporters have blogs, too, so it’s important not to write off the whole blogging thing.

But who is your editor when you get out into the blogosphere? Try to remember that when you stumble over some Web page that rails on about how bad/ugly/cheap/terrible a vehicle is.

Sadly, unsubstantiated gossip and subjective criticism are taken as fact by some readers, probably because, generally, books, TV and newspapers have established a credibility benchmark that has been assumed by Internet sites. Many don’t come under the same kind of scrutiny as this newspaper. Spouting off online has a huge measure of anonymity. It’s writing without consequence, which means it might not be worth much.

In the real world, newspaper stories are usually balanced, fair and informative. The bottom line is that a 100-year-old institution such as a newspaper has a reputation and credibility to uphold. Someone sitting in a living room spouting off rude and hateful information doesn’t. These people can afford to be wrong, arrogant, offensive and foolish because they can just start a new page tomorrow.

For serious people who want to inform you, journalism and newspapering is a career. Blogging is a pastime and good fun. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, and remember that there are plenty of great automotive websites out there. But if you have limited time to spend hunting for real information, it’s important to know the difference between the two.

You can message Wheeler by logging onto and clicking the contact link. Wheelbase Media is a worldwide provider of automotive news and feature stories.

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