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Sites | Reality Check

Wired, February 2000
Resurrecting a Dying Art
the chaos of the bulletin board and the chat room can have a profoundly negative effect upon the overall quality of conversation, a new study concludes. But when the talk moves into a less freewheeling environment, the level of the debate seems to improve. The study was conducted using Web Lab's innovative Reality Check discussion group, which was created to provide a discussion space about President Clinton's impeachment hearings....

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Yahoo! Internet Life, May 1999
Webville: Y-Life's intrepid traveler visits a few of the net's many communities

"Our Town Hall": Self-styled political pundits looking for life after Monicagate should consider visiting Reality Check [www.reality-check.org]. Created by the now-independent founder of the PBS documentary series P.O.V., this site coordinates nearly 500 topical message boards, in which armchair senators participate in open dialogues or small groups. The forced intimacy seems to be working: Amazingly enough, the 12,000-plus posts lack the rambling tone typical of most newsgroups (that is, with the exception of one member's screed on a military coup against the White House). There's even been one marriage proposal, which begs the quintessential town hall question: "Boxers or briefs?"
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ZDNet, January 29, 1999
Site of the Day

Excerpt: Reality Check is a kind of online experiment--aiming to counter the effect of media saturation and model a new kind of public discourse on public issues. Like impeachment. You can join in a small group discussion or be a spectator...   (full article available upon request)
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The Freedom Forum, December 29, 1998
'Reality Check' sets rules as it aims for quality talk, not aimless banter, by Kevin Kawamoto
Unfettered political speech, whether in front of City Hall or in front of a personal computer monitor, is broadly protected by the First Amendment. But one of the key frustrations of participating in online discussion groups on the Internet - and there are literally thousands to choose from - has been the virtual absence of meaningful discussion and the preponderance of name-calling, mud-slinging and often irrational, polarized debates...

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radio online
Morning Edition, December 18, 1998
Impeachment Discussions on the 'Net, by Margot Adler
NPR's Margot Adler reports on what people are saying about impeachment over the Internet. (4:44) Note: the above link is for an unofficial transcript archived on Reality Check. You can listen to the piece in Real Audio from the NPR site.
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print online
The Village Voice, December 9, 1998
Hocus Pocus, by Hillary Rosner
Excerpt: ...the use of the Web for focus groups and more in-depth opinion-gathering raises some complex issues that get at the heart of life online and have implications that extend far beyond marketing. "There's a culture that tends to exist [online], an anonymous voyeurism, and that becomes the basis of most of our interactions," says Barry Joseph, supervising producer at Web Lab, a nonprofit "online laboratory" that is attempting to create a workable model for Web-based forums. "As a result, most of the online forums tend to have structures that work against people having meaningful dialogues"...  (full article available upon request)
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IndustryScoop, November 23, 1998
Web Lab launches Reality Check, an alternative dialogue for the Impeachment Hearings (this article archived on Reality Check.)
Reality Check is a non-partisan, experimental Web site designed to re-energize democratic discourse around the significant issues of our day. While the media can help define our relationships with news events, during media feeding frenzies this relationship becomes distorted beyond recognition...
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print online
The Salt Lake Tribune, November 20, 1998
Just the Facts, by Kim McDaniel
Excerpt: The threat of media saturation often intrudes on discussions of hot-button issues, even among friends or co-workers. Where is a person to go to get an honest, open-minded discussion? ...   (full article available upon request)
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Bitniks, November 19, 1998
Escudriñar a la TV: Diálogo abierto entre medios tradicionales e Internet, by Raúl Trejo Delarbre (this article archived on Reality Check.)
(in Spanish)
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Branchez Vous, November 11, 1998
Chers Bill, Monica et Kenneth
(also carried by Yahoo! France)
We must not be deceived by the media, as they are professionally prone to exaggeration. A new American site, Reality Check, proposes to keep a cool head, to reflect and to allow us our own opinions on the various dramatic events arising on this planet...
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Netsurfer Digest, November 8, 1998
Online Culture: Reality Check
Excerpt: Reality Check is newly dedicated to "challenging dialogues about the issues and events of our time..." It wants to counter the effects of media saturation on our perception of public issues...   (full article available upon request)
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tv online
ZDTV Internet Tonight, November 5, 1998
Net Gets a Reality Check
Excerpt: (The ZDTV cable program featured Reality Check as a news story with a 20 second reader and shots from the site.)
Thursday, an online discussion forum called Reality Check debuted with promises of the substantive, issue-oriented conversations often lost on a Net seemingly filled with hasty attacks and anonymous voyeurism...   (full article available upon request)
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Wired News, November 5, 1998
Unspinning the Media, by Steve Silberman
Had enough of Monica mania? NY's Web Lab opens a site to give netsurfers a place to dig beneath the headlines and uncover their own stories...
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