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On that Trevett piece

Written By: - Date published: 12:37 pm, April 29th, 2009 - 23 comments
Categories: Media - Tags: ,

Continuing with today’s media criticism theme, I’ve got to disagree with my comrade Eddie’s post this morning about the Claire Trevett piece in the Herald where she appears to celebrate John Key’s obfuscation over his position on the supercity rather than demanding answers herself.

While it would be easy to attribute the style of the article to political bias or to Trevett and the Herald indulging in some kind of conspiracy to protect Key, I think that’s too simplistic an answer. It’s also unfair.

The fact is Claire Trevett is one of the country’s best journalists and I’ve always found her to be scrupulous in her professionalism.

That’s what’s got me worried. I long ago gave up expecting anything of substance from the likes of Jane Clifton, but to have one of our country’s best journos treating political reporting as sports commentary speaks to me more of the deep malaise that’s infected journalism in this country.

My critique here is not one of partisan bias, it’s about a journalism that focuses on ‘the game’ rather than the substance of how politics and the choices our politicans make have a huge impact on people’s lives.

All this style of reporting does is disempower ordinary people by reinforcing the idea that politics is an elite spectator sport removed from the concerns of daily life.

True, Goff’s performance in the house yesterday was shit, but journalists shouldn’t have to rely on politicians to ask the questions for them. And they certainly shouldn’t be praising them for their obfuscation.

Our media can do a lot better than this.

23 comments on “On that Trevett piece”

  1. edoze 1

    Meow, cat fight . . .

  2. vinsin 2

    Well put Tane, that’s almost exactly what i thought after reading the article.

  3. BLiP 3

    I agree.Trevett was only doing her job.

    Alas, Tane, you seem to believe that there is even a little debris left from the annihilation of the principles of the Fourth Estate by the concentration of ownership into the hands of a small coterie of multinational profiteers. Fox News is ultimate manifestation of this.

    Journalists are no longer appointed for their ability to keep the state honest and report accordingly, rather the are trained and appointed as glorified advertorialists. There are notable exceptions – you’ll generally find them around the margins of the Opinion Pages, far away from the what used to be content and is now just soy filler to separate the advertisments.

    Can’t have the audience too emotionally involved in the news, can we? No. Far better that they are spoon fed pap so as to engender a sated and gentle state to faciliate the absorption of advertising.

  4. Stephen 4

    All this style of reporting does is disempower ordinary people by reinforcing the idea that politics is an elite spectator sport removed from the concerns of daily life. etc.

    Excellent, thoughtful stuff, i’ve never heard it put that way.

    • Daveski 4.1

      Actually, it couldn’t be further from the truth. In NZ, the great majority have little time or interest in politics or politicians. The passionate minority is tiny and overtly political blogs like this are are significant part of the minority.

      I’m not being critical of anyone just stating my experiences in the “heartland”. The masses do not share our interest in politics or politicians. (1 demerit for presenting opinion as fact but no more or less than the quoted comment).

      • George Darroch 4.1.1

        People care very much about things that affect their daily lives. Tell someone their car rego is going up, their tax is going down, they’re waiting longer for surgery… etc.

        It’s only those who think that politics is something for politicians who think that the ordinary person has no interest in politics.

  5. Eddie 5

    Yeah. She’s part of a culture and that culture is a dismal failure. I probably went a bit too hard on her personally. It was just such an awful piece of so-called journalism, it boiled my blood. If that was from a blog, noone would read it, just far to shilly.

    • edoze 5.1

      What the, get the kiddy gloves off.

      Go in for the Annette king hit, just don’t let the floor hit you on the way down. . .

  6. Brickley Paiste 6

    You don’t really seem to disagree with Eddie at all. It rather more seems like you’re trying to protect the reputation of someone you respect or perhaps someone with whom you are friends.

    I agree with Eddie. Blame the journalist. I hate how individual journalists are seen to have no agency or moral ability at all. She could have written a better piece. She didn’t. You seem to say as much in your putative “disagreement”.

    And I don’t think he was being simplistic but rather simple. The problem is simple: political journalists are suckful. That isn’t simplistic. And if Trevett is the “best in the country” that’s damning with faint praise.

    And can we really reasonably or honestly call a newspaper who published the “Unauthorised Biography of John Key” — who’s authors now work for Mr Key — as taking part in a conspiracy? It rather seems to me to be an open policy of despising Labour and giving unthinking support to that grinning prick who now leads the government.

    In fact, I should probably erase this post because it was articles such as Trevett’s that inspired me to stop reading the Herald entirely. Since then I find that food tastes better and I have a renewed appreciation for the fact that I exist. I urge you all to try it.

  7. Time for another disclaimer from me due to a few collegial questions.

    The Felix that posts here on a regular basis is not the one that works for Newstalk ZB in the Press Gallery.

    It’s rare to find someone that shares my name but that is the case here.

    As you were.

    • BLiP 7.1

      If you are – really – a political “journalist”, then:


      Useless prick!

      • Tane 7.1.1

        Guys, you’re not going to improve whatever issues you have with the media by personally abusing journalists.

        • BLiP

          The MSM is a lost cause and the less the blogosphere has to do with it and the people involved, the better.

          • r0b

            Have to agree with Tane on this one (and in doing so I acknowledge that I’ve been guilty of being very tetchy with a certain journo recently). Blogs aren’t some self contained universe, they’re about influencing the real world. Call the MSM to account, try to reform it for the better, but it doesn’t help the cause to be personally abusing random journos.

    • BLiP 7.2

      I’m sorry.

      My intemperate comment was a call to all journalists, and political journalists in particular; a call for them to “get on with it”, to “do the job” and stop pumping out pap. It was not my intention that it be personal.

      Just before I typed in the comment, I had been reading about someone who actually wanted to be a journalist. I realise now it would be best if I was to consider more carefully the views of the person I was responding to, rather than making grand sweeping comments open to endless interpretation about something I read somewhere else.

      I don’t know Mr Marwick and I doubt that he knows me. However, if he should take personal offence at my comment then I apologise and seek his forgiveness.

      And, thank you to the locals who have pointed out the error of my ways in a civil maner.

  8. felix 8

    I can vouch for the other Felix above. I have never and would never have anything to do with that piece-of-shit organisation.

    • jerry 8.1

      Is any organisation you disagree with a piece-of-shit or is ZB a special case for some reason ?

      • felix 8.1.1

        It’s one of the many ways I might describe something I don’t like. It’s a very simple use of language. Do you really not understand the context? Are you a retard? What are you really trying to say, jerry?

        • jerry

          just interested in why you dislike/consider them a piece of shit – is it particular hosts ?

          Do you ask anyone who questions you whether they are a retard ? Seems to me it would be more retarded to blindly agree with a webpersona such as yourself.

          • felix

            just interested in why you dislike/consider them a piece of shit – is it particular hosts ?
            If you have to ask, you’ll never know.

            Do you ask anyone who questions you whether they are a retard ?
            Only if I think they might be retarded.

          • jerry

            Ah so no real reason for disliking ZB and you accuse people of being retarded for fun …… are you about 15 and commenting here in between surfing porn ?

  9. ripp0 9

    As bloggers there are surely ways of reading the so-called msm.

    Allow me example a learning from the NY Times, where a common understanding among readers and journos was to take the final pars as ‘intent’ for the article.

    Using the same technique couldn’t you strategize the aforementioned NZH journo for her third par —Mr Key needs a diversionary tactic or four to blunt the Opposition’s attacks on the Auckland Super City.

    Work it, of course, like for why does he need diversion of one or more types..?

    Seems to me the essence of Opposition’ readership and their bloggers etc.. given that the remainder of that piece attempts trivialize matters where’s the problem with developing nuggets to your own gain..?

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