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May 09, 2007

NYT Hypocrisy: Having Exposed US Data-Mining To Target Terrorists, NYT Now Itself Employs Data-Mining To Target Customers

In the Village Voice. The only good thing about leftist rags is that they hate establishment liberals almost as much as they hate conservatives.

Barely a year after their reporters won a Pulitzer prize for exposing data mining of ordinary citizens by a government spy agency, New York Times officials had some exciting news for stockholders last week: The Times company plans to do its own data mining of ordinary citizens, in the name of online profits.

The news didn't make everyone all googly-eyed. In fact, some people at the paper's annual stockholders meeting in the New Amsterdam Theatre exchanged confused looks when Janet Robinson, the company's president and CEO, uttered the phrase "data mining." Wasn't that the nefarious, 21st-century sort of snooping that the National Security Agency was doing without warrants on American citizens? Wasn't that the whole subject of the prizewinning work in December 2005 by Times reporters Eric Lichtblau and James Risen?

And hadn't the company's chairman and publisher, Pinch Sulzberger, already trotted out Pulitzers earlier in the program?

Yes, yes, and yes. But Robinson was talking about money this time. Data mining, she told the crowd, would be used "to determine hidden patterns of uses to our website." ...

Do readers really want data-mining behavior from their newspapers—not just the Times but every other big media outlet? Do they want newspaper databases to store reading histories, minute by minute, until one day the government shows up to examine ordinary citizens' shopping and viewing and chatting habits in detail? If you think it can't happen, ask the librarians who've been told to hand over readers' checkout records under the Patriot Act.

It was pointed out at the time of the NYT's revelations that data-mining was quite common in everyday business and marketing. The Times, nevertheless, pushed forward its editorial line that data-mining was dangerous, invasive, and patently unAmerican.

How the Times has changed.

Thanks to dri. Again. This is getting embarrassing.


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posted by Ace at 03:57 PM

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