web analytics

Bagehot is dead, long live Bagehot

Written By: - Date published: 1:54 pm, July 4th, 2010 - 6 comments
Categories: Media, the praiseworthy and the pitiful - Tags:

The current incumbent of the illustrious Bagehot column* in The Economist is hanging up his pen there. However his final column number II has some reflections on the current nature of journalism and politics in Britian, which apply just as strongly here. He is discussing the topics that he could have written about, but didn’t.

That failing (among others) may in part reflect the culture of political journalism in Britain, which I’ve written about in my valedictory column. I talk about how that culture tends to cultivate provocation rather than consideration; the crowdedness of the newspaper market is one explanation for that, but so, I think, is the way people in Britain have come to think about politics—as a sort of blood sport, in which politicians are very temporarily regarded as heroes, before being excoriated as villains. I wasn’t the greatest fan of Gordon Brown as prime minister, and think that he was largely responsible for the media turning against him. Nevertheless, I think the abuse that was heaped on him sometimes transcended the bounds of journalistic decency and responsibility.

This is part of a more general, spreading culture of inflated expectations, impatience and maybe even cruelty.

I couldn’t agree more. One of my abiding memories over the last couple of years has been the braying lynch mob of journalists always looking for the next ‘big’ story like that of NZ First’s lousy book-keeping or Chris Carters flowers to his partner. The impression you get was that the journalists weren’t interested making the details of the issues clear to the public. They are merely after the headlines. Furthermore from what I’ve heard many of the relevant details were actively suppressed as getting in the way of a good salacious story.

So the press was ineffectual at any substantial level. Winston Peters was never charged with anything, and the lousy accounting practices of political parties don’t appear to have been reformed. The reason for the flowers being sent was never revealed in the media, in fact all you ever heard was barely concealed homophobic dogwhistling.

In fact one of the questions I get asked most frequently over the ministerial spending has been unanswered by the media. When was the personal money on the ministerial credit cards was paid back, and what were the procedures run by ministerial services were to separate personal spending from ‘business’ expenses. That to me as a taxpayer that was the core of the issue. However the media seem to think that such a trivial thing that they don’t appear to have reported on it as far as I’ve seen.

Like many others, I have a steadily decreasing opinion of the value of journalists and news media pandering to the lowest common denominator of blood sports. Many of them wouldn’t make particularly good bloggers because they look like they’d be totally unprepared for the type of feedback they’d get. It isn’t hard to see why sites like this with its amateur crew of authors offering opinion keeps having rising readerships.

When the news media and journalists tend to drop below our standards, why not go and read somewhere where the authors are continuously challenged by amateur commentators? It keeps the quality up as our newest author Bunji found out in a number of their posts.

* Named after Walter Bagehot a formidable essayist, who I suspect would have had fun on the political blogs.

6 comments on “Bagehot is dead, long live Bagehot ”

  1. ianmac 1

    I think that the downsizing of staff at MSM was discussed this morning Media on National Radio. “Where there had been 5 journalist in the Business Section, now there were 3 trying to cover the same amount of work.”
    MSM also argue that the population is not interested in the issues – just the juicy bits and there is not a demand for good Current Affairs.

    Therefore I applaud this site as a forum. Online here and elsewhere means that the Newspaper issues are “old” by the time the paper arrives, and for small town people like me this forum is the only way I can at least appear to participate in the dialog.

  2. Ag 2

    The problem with the MSM is the readers. Most people want tripe. Therefore tripe is served. It really is that simple.

    • Pascal's bookie 2.1

      I dunno if it’s that simple.

      I suspect that the amount of debt being serviced by news co’s is a huge part of it. Journalism costs money. The more stories journo’s are required to write, the less effort can be put into each story. The less effort, the shallower the coverage has to be.

      Reading shallow accounts of complex issues is frustrating; you don’t feel like you’ve learned anything because usually you haven’t. If you have enough background info to understand the issue, the shallow coverage won’t teach you much, if you don’t, a shallow coverage will just confuse you.

      So the available coverage of complex issues is what loses out to the tripe. People prefer quality tripe to unsatisfying amounts of bland, factory farmed, poorly cooked salmon. Kind of thing.

  3. uke 3

    “This is part of a more general, spreading culture of inflated expectations, impatience and maybe even cruelty.”

    Wow, next The Economist will start to have second thoughts about capitalism itself. Wonder if they’ll connect the dots? Oh – too bad they just retired.

  4. deemac 4

    sad you had to explain who Bagehot was – he was required reading when I studied politics at uni, surely he still should be?

Links to post

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Tokelau Language Week reminds us to stay united and strong
    Staying strong in the face of challenges and being true to our heritage and languages are key to preserving our cultural identity and wellbeing, is the focus of the 2020 Tokelau Language Week. Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio, says this year’s theme, ‘Apoapo tau foe, i nā tāfea ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • NZ announces a third P-3 deployment in support of UN sanctions
    The Government has deployed a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion (P-3) maritime patrol aircraft to support the implementation of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions imposing sanctions against North Korea, announced Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters and Minister of Defence Ron Mark. “New Zealand has long supported ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Pacific trade and development agreement a reality
    Pacific regional trade and development agreement PACER Plus will enter into force in 60 days now that the required eight countries have ratified it. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker welcomed the announcement that the Cook Islands is the eighth nation to ratify this landmark agreement. “The agreement represents ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Securing a pipeline of teachers
    The Government is changing its approach to teacher recruitment as COVID-19 travel restrictions continue, by boosting a range of initiatives to get more Kiwis into teaching. “When we came into Government, we were faced with a teacher supply crisis,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “Over the past three years, we ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Border exceptions for a small number of international students with visas
    The Government has established a new category that will allow 250 international PhD and postgraduate students to enter New Zealand and continue their studies, in the latest set of border exceptions. “The health, safety and wellbeing of people in New Zealand remains the Government’s top priority. Tight border restrictions remain ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • First COVID-19 vaccine purchase agreement signed
    The Government has signed an agreement to purchase 1.5 million COVID-19 vaccines – enough for 750,000 people – from Pfizer and BioNTech, subject to the vaccine successfully completing all clinical trials and passing regulatory approvals in New Zealand, say Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods and Health Minister Chris Hipkins. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • International statement – End-to-end encryption and public safety
    We, the undersigned, support strong encryption, which plays a crucial role in protecting personal data, privacy, intellectual property, trade secrets and cyber security.  It also serves a vital purpose in repressive states to protect journalists, human rights defenders and other vulnerable people, as stated in the 2017 resolution of the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Ministry of Defence Biodefence Assessment released
    The Ministry of Defence has today released a Defence Assessment examining Defence’s role across the spectrum of biological hazards and threats facing New Zealand. Biodefence: Preparing for a New Era of Biological Hazards and Threats looks at how the NZDF supports other agencies’ biodefence activities, and considers the context of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020
    New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020 Hon David Parker’s response following Thomas Piketty and Esther Duflo. Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening, wherever in the world you might be. I first acknowledge the excellent thought provoking speeches of Thomas Piketty and Esther ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Kaipara Moana restoration takes next step
    A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed today at Waihāua Marae between the Crown, local iwi and councils to protect, restore and enhance the mauri of Kaipara Moana in Northland. Environment Minister David Parker signed the document on behalf of the Crown along with representatives from Ngā Maunga Whakahī, Ngāti ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand and Uruguay unite on reducing livestock production emissions
    Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Uruguayan Minister of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries Carlos María Uriarte have welcomed the launch of a three-year project that will underpin sustainable livestock production in Uruguay, Argentina, and Costa Rica.  The project called ‘Innovation for pasture management’ is led by Uruguay’s National Institute of Agricultural ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • 3100 jobs created through marae upgrades
    Hundreds of marae throughout the country will be upgraded through investments from the Provincial Growth Fund’s refocused post COVID-19 funding to create jobs and put money into the pockets of local tradespeople and businesses, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta have announced. “A total ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Health volunteers recognised in annual awards
    Health Minister Chris Hipkins has announced 9 teams and 14 individuals are the recipients of this year’s Minister of Health Volunteer Awards.  “The health volunteer awards celebrate and recognise the thousands of dedicated health sector volunteers who give many hours of their time to help other New Zealanders,” Mr Hipkins ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Community COVID-19 Fund supports Pacific recovery
    The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio says a total of 264 groups and individuals have successfully applied for the Pacific Aotearoa Community COVID-19 Recovery Fund, that will support Pacific communities drive their own COVID-19 recovery strategies, initiatives, and actions. “I am keen to see this Fund support Pacific ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Community benefits from Māori apprenticeships
    Up to 50 Māori apprentices in Wellington will receive paid training to build houses for their local communities, thanks to a $2.75 million investment from the Māori Trades and Training Fund, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “This funding will enable Ngāti Toa Rangatira Incorporated to provide its Ngā Kaimahi ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Training fund supports Māori jobseekers
    Rapidly growing sectors will benefit from a $990,000 Māori Trades and Training Fund investment which will see Wellington jobseekers supported into work, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “This funding will enable Sapphire Consultants Ltd. to help up to 45 Māori jobseekers into paid training initiatives over two years through ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Ruakura Inland Port development vital infrastructure for Waikato
    The Government is investing $40 million to develop an inland port at Ruakura which will become a freight super-hub and a future business, research and residential development for the Waikato, Urban Development and Transport Minister Phil Twyford, and Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced today. The funding has been has ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Appointments made to Defence Expert Review Group
    Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today the establishment of an Expert Review Group to review a number of aspects of the New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF) structure, information management and record-keeping processes.  The Expert Review Group’s work arises out of the first recommendation from the Report of the Government’s Inquiry ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • No active community cases of COVID-19
    There are no active community cases of COVID-19 remaining in the country after the last people from the recent outbreak have recovered from the virus, Health Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “This is a big milestone. New Zealanders have once again through their collective actions squashed the virus. The systems ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago