Johan Hjelm on Fri, 9 Apr 1999 18:13:00 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> What is inforwar, what is truth?

In the last few weeks, this and other lists have been flooded with
messages about the war in Yugoslavia. Quite apart from the issue of the
war itself, the flood of messages provide an interesting question. How do
we know these correspondents even exist? 

A lot of these messages are certain to be propaganda from one side or the
other, some may well be real and reflect a very real human suffering. But
I have no way of knowing which. Because on the Internet, nobody knows you
are a dog. Looking at the headers of the messages reveal nothing - you
know as well as myself that it is easy to fake. 

I have no way of verifying the existence of the correspondents, and I have
no way of judging the veracity of the messages. The media reporting from
Serbia and Kosova often consists of regurgitated NATO messages. I can get
the NATO press releases from the NATO website; so I can find out what is
NATO-affected reporting. But I have absolutely no way of knowing what is
going on in Kosova. I have absolutely no idea what is reported by Serbian
fascist, Serbian democrats, Albanian guerillas, or whatever. Oh, I could
find out some - but it would take me a few days, and then I would have
drowned in a new flood of messages. I have a job and no time to be an
investigating journalist. If I want to know what is going on, I can only
trust the people who purport to report from there, and I do not know if
they exist or not. Of course, the streams of refugees I can see on
television are unlikely to be faked, so I know something terrible is going
on. But what? By whom? 

I can offer no remedy. I can only try to take what I hear and read with a
grain of salt. Including the posts on this list.  And wonder: In quiter
times, is the situation the same but with different senders and messages?
What Linux postings really come from Microsoft? Frightening thought. 


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