A note from the Daily Dot’s CEO
This week we drafted our ethics policy, and two things that happened got me thinking about the next draft. One, Rolling Stone published a revealing profile of Fox News chief Roger Ailes. And two, Lady Gaga released a new album.
What the Rolling Stone article points out is that Ailes (known as “the chairman”) has made Fox News the most watched and the most profitable cable news network — with profits nearing $1 billion — by trafficking in fear. Lady Gaga nuked Amazon’s servers, as Owen mentioned above, pushing fear’s opposite — love.
That gets me to thinking that something is missing from the current draft of our ethics policy because it doesn’t take a side in that fight. It talks a lot about accuracy and disinterest. But the Daily Dot was very much founded to take the side of Gaga.
Our society seems to view online communities with an awful lot of fear. The theme of the eG8 Forum this week in Paris was how we save people from the Internet . In general, the dominant cultural conversation in the media seems to portray online communities with a kind of dull panic. How do we protect the children? Won’t somebody please think of the children?!?
But lots of good things happen on the Internet too. In an age where humankind seems incapable of collective action to address problems that are bad for everyone — nuclear proliferation, global warming, cultural and religious extremism — the Internet is proving to be the one reason for hope. Consider, for example, the “It Gets Better Project” — strangers reached out to save kids’ lives. As just one concrete result, the nonprofit Trevor Project sent out 2,500 suicide-prevention kits — a 400 percent increase over a similar period before the campaign.
To be sure, bad things do happen on the Internet. People have died because of what happens on the Internet. What kills them is fear — it’s simply fear, the kind of fear that outfits like Fox News stoke, that drives trolls and that drives the reactions of their targets. And I, for one, don’t think that ladelling on more fear is going to solve that problem.
The Daily Dot will tell the story of a community that brings connection and empowerment to millions. It’ll also tell the story of those who find an outlet for their own alienation online. It will get the truth, but more importantly it will seek to understand. Fear runs on caricature — it needs monsters. True journalism shines the flashlight under the bed to reveal that there’s nothing there but scared children.
Scared children are capable of terrible things and, of course, those things must be opposed — and true journalism does that too.
So something new for the ethics policy: What would Gaga do?
— Nick White
CEO and Cofounder, the Daily Dot