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The Raw Story

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The Raw Story (styled as RawStory and run by Raw Story Media Inc.) is a self-proclaimed progressive Internet news site, featuring redigested clickbait. Never take a RawStory headline at face value: it is rarely actual fake news, but you will need to de-spin its content. RawStory ranks in the top 4000 websites worldwide, granting it about 25 million monthly visitors.[1][2]

Origins[edit]

RawStory was founded in 2004 by John Byrne. His stated purpose was to propose a news site where the moderation and selection of editors has been stripped away; the founder contrasted his site's approach to that of the Washington Post, "where there is a layer of editors between the person asking the question and the person answering it."[3] This is imagined to be a Good Thing.

Content[edit]

RawStory hardly ever has anything like the raw story. Almost all its stories are cribbed from other news outlets, sometimes three or four steps down the chain from any rawness of story. (For example, RawStory has dozens of articles beginning "According to the Intercept"[4] and hundreds citing Right Wing Watch.[5]) Thankfully it usually links the original sources, which a skeptic looking to cite something should use by preference.

Outrage porn[edit]

Raw Story tends to favor "outrage porn"Wikipedia's W.svg about random individuals, anonymous internet commenters or low-level elected officials acting out or making outlandish statements. Typical headlines include:

  • Headline: "‘I voted for Trump!’: White customer demands special privileges in Starbucks meltdown"[6]
  • Headline: "Baltimore teacher loses her cool and tells ‘punk-ass n****r’ students they’re ‘gonna get shot’"[7]
  • Headline: "Trump fans try to ‘punish’ Starbucks by writing his name on cups — and the internet is cracking up"[8]
  • Headline: "Arizona man gives up his firearms after Las Vegas massacre — and now gun nuts want him dead".[9]

Fake news[edit]

As a result of their obsession with drama, RawStory often conflates different stories. For example, one article was headlined: "'This is our moment': Trump’s win emboldens activist behind effort to 'make rape legal'". The article combines [1] Trump's electoral college win in 2016, [2] Roosh V's support for legalizing rape in 2015, and [3] Roosh V's sycophancy towards Trump following Trump's win in 2016.[10] The article title leads one to believe that Roosh V thinks Trump's victory will help him make rape legal — though Roosh never said so.

RawStory is also a frequent visitor to Snopes. These stories below have been debunked by Snopes:

  • SCOTUS ruled that firing women for breastfeeding is okay because men also lactate — it didn't.[11]
  • Trump wanted Muslims to wear an ID badge — he wanted a national registry instead.[12]
  • Bill O'Reilly lost custody of his kids because of domestic violence — that's not the reason.[13]
  • The Golden State Warriors voted not to go to the Trump white house — they probably didn't.[14]
  • Roosh V planned an international "make rape legal" event — he planned a non-"rape-legalization" event, which failed.[15]
  • Costco removed a cake that had "666" in it — this was an actual hoax.[16]

However, Snopes was pleased to find that even RawStory didn't believe that "plastic rice was being manufactured in China, exported, and consumed by people in other countries".[17]

Pseudoscience (or just bad reporting)[edit]

RawStory is anti-GMO, using a skull-n-bones to represent them.[18] For instance, in the article cited, there is an apparent scare that lobbyists went overseas to promote GMOs and its safety and benefits. They think this is a bad thing. They also link to a Guardian article discussing a court ruling where an anonymous Indian farmer could not create new seeds from a patented crop. In reality, buying new seeds per generation is not much of a big deal, and it happens already with traditional crop breeder where the next generation of seeds is lower quality. The story is similar to Percy Schmeiser, where a farmer is apparently demonized, but the reality is that the farmer knowingly violated the patent and always come up with weak excuses. In this case, the farmer has tried to replant seeds from a grain elevator.

On the other hand, they have hosted some more pro-GMO articles. One is a hosting of an article by a professor at University of California, Davis, Pamela Ronald, encouraging consumers and policy-makers to view the positives of what GM technology can accomplish and opines that the debate on the safety of GMs is a distraction.[19]

An article republished from Medical Daily entitled "Will a genetically engineered virus kill all humans?" is a mostly vapid article[20] that emphasizes more on fear rather than information. For instance, they instigate fear on vaccines, which some of them do use an altered virus (either weakened or just altered) and not much else. They also link to an article from Gizmodo entitled "Scientist creates new flu virus that can kill all of humanity", where a scientist has engineered a strain of H1N1 virus that can escape the human immune system.

It also publishes the typical clickbait "instant cure!" style articles. One article has the headline "Scientists discover virus that kills all grades of breast cancer ‘within seven days’",[21] but the research paper itself explicitly states "but not in normal mammary epithelial cells." It later made a correction, though not focused on that tidbit. In another case, it has hosted an article from STEAM Register that showed promise of a strain of genetically-modified salmonella strain that showed promise in the field of bacteriotherapy to fight cancer, though the quality of the reporting may be a different story.[22]

The good[edit]

RawStory is useful for providing transcriptions of interesting wingnuttery from right-wing radio and video sources.[23] And, once in a blue moon, RawStory actually publishes original reporting.[24]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. https://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/rawstory.com
  2. https://www.similarweb.com/website/rawstory.com
  3. Interview with John Byrne, Mother Jones, June 2007.
  4. https://www.google.com/search?q=site%3Arawstory.com+%22according+to+the+intercept%22&pws=0
  5. https://www.google.com/search?q=site%3Arawstory.com+%22right+wing+watch%22&pws=0
  6. http://www.rawstory.com/2016/11/i-voted-for-trump-white-customer-demands-special-privileges-in-starbucks-meltdown/
  7. http://www.rawstory.com/2016/11/baltimore-teacher-loses-her-cool-and-tells-punk-ass-nr-students-theyre-gonna-get-shot/
  8. http://www.rawstory.com/2016/11/trump-fans-try-to-punish-starbucks-by-writing-his-name-on-cups-and-the-internet-is-cracking-up/
  9. Gettys, T. (October 6, 2017) Arizona man gives up his firearms after Las Vegas massacre — and now gun nuts want him dead. The Raw Story. Retrieved October 6, 2017.
  10. http://www.rawstory.com/2016/11/this-is-our-moment-trumps-win-emboldens-activist-behind-effort-to-make-rape-legal/
  11. http://www.snopes.com/info/news/menlactate.asp
  12. http://www.snopes.com/donald-trump-muslims-id/
  13. http://www.snopes.com/bill-oreilly-lost-custody/
  14. http://www.snopes.com/warriors-white-house-visit/
  15. http://www.snopes.com/roosh-v-43-countries/
  16. http://www.snopes.com/costco-666-cake/
  17. http://www.snopes.com/plastic-rice-from-china/
  18. https://www.reddit.com/r/skeptic/comments/1eduo4/raw_story_uses_skull_and_crossbone_graphic_for/
  19. Ronald, R. (June 4, 2016). Moving beyond pro-con debates over genetically engineered crops. The Raw Story (repost from The Conversation.) Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  20. Glowatz, E. (November 16, 2016). Will a genetically engineered virus kill all humans?. The Raw Story. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  21. https://www.reddit.com/r/skeptic/comments/t1j0j/scientists_discover_virus_that_kills_all_grades/
  22. Steam Register. (October 29, 2016). Genetically altered salmonella could be the next weapon against cancer: report. The Raw Story. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  23. https://www.rawstory.com/2017/06/religious-leader-thinks-beards-prevent-homosexuality/
  24. https://www.rawstory.com/2016/12/trans-activist-detained-in-arizona-and-threatened-with-deportation-due-to-bureaucratic-catch-22/