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Journalism matters

Written By: - Date published: 6:20 am, July 12th, 2017 - 22 comments
Categories: journalism, Media - Tags: ,


That’s the challenge for journalists. But what about the rest of us? We like to criticise the MSM for the loss of investigative journalism and neutral reporting in NZ, and rightly so. But I also think it’s important we don’t lose sight of where mainstream journalists are doing a good, sometimes exceptional, job.

The multi-story Newsroom investigation into the Todd Barclay debacle is one fine example. As well as being impressed by them taking a complex matter and spreading out the various strands for NZ to see, I was also heartened to see good old fashioned investigative journalism on display.

For those that missed it a few weeks ago, here’s RNZ’s Wallace Chapman (Sunday Morninginterviewing Melanie Reid, the main journalist in the breaking news around Todd Barclay. Reid’s a long time investigative journalist for 30 years, and it shows in the quality of her work. The interview is worth a listen to hear how the Barclay story came about, but also to hear what Reid values as a journalist.

I don’t watch a lot of TV news and I don’t subscribe to a newspaper, so my exposure to journalists is haphazard. I’d like to compile a list of NZ journalists who are currently doing journalism in ways that serve the people. These are the people who it will be useful to listen to and to link to during the election. Not because they’re all favoured by the left. I’d probably put Fran O’Sullivan on the list, she’s right wing but she also seems to want to tell the truth.

So the list isn’t just about who we like but who we respect and why. I’ll start with adding John Campbell, because he understands the value of journalism vs schlock, and for the social intelligence which runs through all his interviews. He knows how to listen.

Please share your own preferred journos in the comments below, including what it is about them that means they are worthy (links are good).

22 comments on “Journalism matters ”

  1. Ad 1

    For years the left has been expecting that the right will play fair in journalism.
    They won’t, and the left have no right to expect it.

    Journalists are not some hallowed truth-tellers.
    They are people in a job trying to sell a story.

    Having said that, as well as Fran O’Sullivan herself, most of the reporters in the NZHerald section are excellent. Especially the older ones.

    John Campbell usually makes me feel that I’m taking a bath in the tears of puppies.
    I’m sure it has a place.

    We need a whole lot more journalism that’s interesting to read and likely to attract younger readers who are turning off the news in droves.
    Here’s a good example from NZHerald business this morning:


    More usefully than the truth, we need people in the news who can write.

    • Carolyn_nth 1.1

      John Campbell and his Checkpoint, are keeping on the case of issues of poverty and homelessness. This story by Zac Fleming last night, about an Auckland homeless man who died on a bench in an Auckland cemetery.

    • Johan 1.2

      To Ad,
      “We need a whole lot more journalism that’s interesting to read and likely to attract younger readers who are turning off the news in droves”.

      There are lots of interesting informative stories available say on RNZ, overseas news channels such as CNN, BBC, Aljazeera etc if you care to look around.

      Younger readers, I feel are not interested in politics as voting turnout suggests and those who are keen are put-off by media Bullshit, lies and twisters of factual information. As an example, try listening to Hosking, Leighton Smith, McIvor or Larry Williams for five minutes and notice the manipulation and bias of how information is presented showing a clear right-wing agenda, in reality 1ZB resembles a media branch of Fox News.

  2. Carolyn_nth 2

    Of course, Gordon Campbell on Werewolf
    David Fisher and Matt Nippert on NZ Herald

    Kirsty Johnston on NZ Herald. Her latest published last night – an investigation into NZ's alt-right (and a sorry little bunch they are). Not sure they are growing, as her headline says, or just ambling along, about to die – as the investigation shows.

    And for the geeks: the latest edition of the academic journal, The Political Economy of Communication (includes an article by NZ’s Wayne Hope, who often does good stuff on the state of NZ’s news media) – and open access.

  3. Ed 3

    Jon Stephenson is excellent for New Zealand’s foreign wars.
    Rachel Stewart’s opinion pieces are a breath of fresh air.

  4. Ethica 4

    Simon Collins of the Herald has done great work on social welfare issues and is now on the education round. There seems to be some good mentoring of younger journalists at the Herald.

  5. Wayne 5

    Standardnistas have missed out including Duncan Garner, Paddy Gower and Guyon Espiner. Admittedly Duncan is more of a show host these days, but Paddy and Guyon are both active journalists.

    On the investigative front, Richard Harman with his Politik website. And on business news Brian Fallow.

    • Ed 5.1

      Gower and Garner are ‘look at me’ blowhards.

      • garibaldi 5.1.1

        Good try Wayne. Why didn’t you include the erudite leftie Mike Hosking?

    • lprent 5.2

      I rate Richard Harman as I read him first every morning at about 0600 when I wake up.

      Personally I find Paddy to be way too shallow and more interested in the headline than doing anything useful. He used to be better before he got a camera. Essentially that kind of journalism plus the damn ads is why I don’t watch free to air TV. Too irritating.

      Basically anything in the business section of the Herald. Especially Fran O’Sullivan and Brian Fallow. But David Fisher and a few others keep popping up

      Guyon Espiner – meh! Occasional flashes. I have been interested in Kathryn Ryan’s continued probes into particular areas despite her tendency to editorialise over whoever she is interviewing.

      Colin James with his ODT columns.

      But I’m a hard audience. I have a memory and a long history in business, politics, tech and science. I don’t have the attention span and memory of a nutrition deprived chicken which seems to be the audience much of the ‘news’ media are interested in. In other words Mike Hoskings I just find ridiculous since he stopped working and started wanking his ego.

    • Stuart Munro 5.3

      Never seen anything recognizable as journalism from those wannabe celebs – now I don’t bother with them.

      The Campbells, Monbiot, and my journalist friends who shall go unnamed. Frank Macskasy does it right with factual support for pretty much everything he asserts.

      Significant that none of our tv news is remotely credible as journalism.

    • SpaceMonkey 5.4

      Not Patrick Gower. He’s a lightweight, thug equivalent, of the journalism world. I’ve got more journalistic integrity than Gower and I’m not even a journalist!

  6. Philj 6

    Rod Oram has been consistent in the high quality of his journalism. He has just been let go by The Sunday paper for journalistic ‘differences’! Lol

  7. Cinny 7

    On the wireless I feel that Ali Mau is fair, wide awake and tells it like it is.

  8. gsays 8

    I suggest one of the biggest threats to journalism is the likes of Facebook etc.
    In that the amount of time spent on these sites diminishes opportunity to read and absorb more challenging pieces.

    In the not so distant past, with a limited range of journalism/opinion available, we were influenced more by what we were reading.
    Nowadays we seek that which confirms our biases (echo chamber), and what journalism we can access, generally has other purposes i.e. to sell advertising.

    My echo chamber has John Campbell and rnz, Rachel Stewart, Matt Nippert.
    To be fair most of the time when I read print journalists, it is from a link posted here on TS.
    I have a self imposed boycott on tv commercial radio and newspapers, because of the advertising.

    • greywarshark 8.1

      Keeping away from commercial media is wise also because there are so many influences behind what they print, no matter what freedom is supposed to be given to editors. Anyway they are being replaced or expected to manage multiple outlets. What time do they have to think over any matter before declaiming on it?

      I think that advertising phrase that has been known for yonks, applies. I remember one advertisement for quality beds with the manufacturer saying sincerely, “We stand behind all our beds”. So with the newspaper proprietors and their particular friends!

  9. greywarshark 9

    I heard Steven Joyce talking on Radionz this morning rubbishing Labour’s ideas.
    It seems to me that there is something seductive in voices, and a deep voice sounds strong and trustworthy. Robert Jones made fun of Bill Rowling’s voice – he was apparently a good politician. Did his voice hold him back? Strange but perhaps true.

    Labour makes pitch to families, National defends its plan
    From Morning Report, 7:37 am today
    Listen duration 8′ :16″
    The Labour Party is pledging to scrap National’s promised tax cuts and put more money in the pockets of families if it’s elected. The National government’s families package gives a 2 billion dollar a year boost for Working for Families and the accommodation supplement, as well as a rise in tax thresholds. We talk to Stephen Joyce about National’s plan – and how it stacks up against Labour’s.

    On politics and a journalist giving informed feedback on Bill Rowling and on politicians’ ways and means.
    This from an article by Anthony Hubbard in Sunday Star Times 3/3/2012

    Winston Peters still bringing the house down
    … interviewing former PM Bill Rowling in the 1990s to find that he was still bitter about the lethal ridicule he had suffered at the hands of tycoon Bob Jones 20 years earlier. It wasn’t National’s Robert Muldoon who had defeated him, he said, although Muldoon had beaten him in the 1975 election. No, it was Bob Jones and his jibes about “Wallace Rowling, the white mouse”.

    And further interesting comment on humour and perceptions of citizens about politicians.
    Ronald Reagan used humour as a weapon while carrying out his right-wing revolution in the United States. He played “Dutch”, the likeable guy, not too bright, but friendly.

    Democrats mocked his stupidity, but he wasn’t as stupid as he looked. He could turn aside criticism with his dopey charm. Taxed about some presidential screw-up or other, he grinned and said, “Gee, I guess we goofed.”

    President George W Bush was constantly mocked for his strangled English – “it’s hard to put food on your family”, etc etc – but he too turned it back on the critics. He played the ordinary guy, and used Al Gore’s know-all intelligence against him.
    Republicans liked Bush as someone they could enjoy a barbecue with, not like that smarty-pants Gore.

    Sound familiar, worked in the USA : worked in NZ!

  10. Keepcalmcarryon 10

    Click bait journalism on the main media websites and tv stations is bad not just for intelligent political discourse but peoples grasp of what is important. A couple of instances spring to mind:
    Earthquake reporting of every small quake or aftershock as a massive deal – I can tell you 7.8 is a massive deal , but overhyping unimportant shocks just scares people and worries relatives.
    Another case in point is overhyping weather events – there is a cost to moving and feeding stock, media reports of weather events are usually overhyped and extremely misleading. Granted there is snow around this time.
    Having the charter at tvnz reinstated and expanded would be a start on returning to more level headed journalism that didn’t rely on clicks.

  11. greywarshark 11

    Journalism is encouraged by the Bruce Jesson Foundation which also rewards with awards each year to chosen journalists. If you want to encourage the continuance of truthful and investigative journalism in the public good, then please donate to the Bruce Jesson Foundation.

    Also join Scoop supporters and receive their weekly update of news that keeps you In the Loop. You could also donate something or a regular debit to The Standard, that efficient mouthpiece for gourmet facts and lean figures.

    It doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, and they and your fellow citizens who care about this are pathetically grateful. (I find I am using pathetic as an adjective a lot these days. It says a lot that one set of letters.)

  12. Karen 12

    There are still a few good journalists doing their best in a difficult environment.Even at the Herald there are still some left: Matt Nippert, Kirsty Johnson, Simon Collins, David Fisher and Brian Gaynor are always worth reading.

    Television has very few good journalists – generally coverage is too superficial in news to be bothered with. Current affairs are a bit better – Lisa Owen is capable of some excellent work but sometimes descends into the gotcha techniques favoured by Gower. Mihingarangi Forbes is generally very impressive. Her work on National Radio is excellent and the Hui is the best TV current affairs show IMO.

    Very sad to see the end of Mana Magazine – editor Leonie Hayden had made it into a must read. Aaron Smale was one of their best writers – he also appears on other forums. E-tangata is a weekly treat for some excellent writing on Māori and Pasifika issues. Scott Hamilton is good on pacific history (Reading the Maps).

    I always read Gordon Campbell – still has some of the best political analysis. Russell Brown (Public Address) is particularly good for drug reform and disability issues. Giovanni Tiso and Morgan Godfrey are excellent – there are links to longer pieces by them on their twitter accounts.

    The Spinoff and Newsroom are worth checking out regularly – the quality varies but there are some very good examples of well researched journalism on both from time to time. After a while you know who to look out for – a bit like on the Standard!

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