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Need to know

Written By: - Date published: 11:40 am, September 3rd, 2011 - 24 comments
Categories: afghanistan, Media, spin - Tags:

See Small on Hager yesterday? He’s all like “of course I knew we’re working with US intelligence but I didn’t tell you because, duh, it’s not important”. It was the same story with the Hollow Men and the secret tape revelations. Wonder what other “unimportant” stuff journos don’t tell us in the interests of maintaining access and being part of the elite.

Come to think of it. I’m reminded how senior journos straight up refused to cover the story when one of their own colleagues quoted John Key saying he “would love to see wages drop” (apart from Colin Espiner, who said a PM can’t affect wages!). You see some of the rumour and scuttlebutt that is reported and you wonder what calculations were made regarding access in choosing to ignore a hugely damaging admission from the likely future PM.

24 comments on “Need to know”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    The more I see of the MSM the more I’m convinced the whole lot are corrupt. They never seem to report on meaningful stories and they always seem to cover for National, Act and the capitalists.

  2. Zetetic 2

    I’d put it slightly differently.

    Power relationships mean that the interests of the journos as individuals pursuing a career don’t match the interests of the public who rely on them for information.

    Individually, journos are very much in the hands of politicians, particularly an ascendent government to get career/privilege maintaining stories. All the good stories come from the parties providing information to the journos. To keep getting those stories they have to maintain access, and that means not pissing off the politicians who are providing them any more than any other journo. If you’re unwilling to compromise with favourable reporting in return for stories and another journo is, they get the stories and you don’t and they become the star and you become the nobody first in line to lose your job.

    This explains the ‘reef-fish effect’: how a party can go from teflon-coated to not being able to catch a break on media coverage in a short space of time. It’s in the interests of the individual journo to be part of the pack in how they relate the strong and weak politicians. To step outside the pack risks repercussions and loss of access. When the pack turns though, it becomes safe, even necessary to turn with them. Thus, the media will tend to perpetuate the power of a party, an individual, or an ideology until a tipping point is reached. It is highly status quo protecting and, therefore, conservative.

    For the public, this is a shitty result but only ‘corrupt’ if you think that the media exists for the purposes of providing the public with information rather than protecting the elite and providing doctrine renewal to the masses.

    In related news, I’m so excited about the Rugby World Cup because I know everyone’s so excited about the Rugby World Cup because the media told me so.

    • ChrisH 2.1

      Genius. They’re like a pack of cowardly wild dogs that only go after the wildebeeste after it has become lame, and then tear it to pieces. Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were teflon coated in their day, and then toward the end they became like the old, lame wildebeeste, ‘fair game’. By which time of course there was no point as far as the public were concerned, but that’s a different matter entirely. Basically, a sanitary function that actually preserves the ruling elite by eliminating the weak, sick rulers and by increasing the need for the ruling class herd to stick together. A game with two mutually reinforcing sides in other words, in which the media act as a kind of ‘boundary patrol’. Therefore, and as a corollary, anyone who tries to go it alone outside the ruling-class herd is also fair game, and under certain circumstances that can extend to an entire opposition party, such as Labour.

  3. Afewknowthetruth 3

    I briefly glance at mainstream media sources most days in order to keep track of what the proles are being misinformed about or are being distracted by.

    The empire has no clothes.

    All that is required to see that is to look where the empire doesn’t want you to look.

    I suppose we will soon be subjected to the annual repetition of the lies surrounding 9/11 and the talkfest of nonsense that goes with it. .

    Meanwhile most people experience a daily drop in the quality of life.

    It’s commonly called ‘boiling a frog’. Dumb them down, take away a few rights, add a few more restrictions, dumb them down a bit more.

  4. HC 4

    Is this any wonder? NO!

    Just look at the job market for journalists. Many leading media companies have had redundancies, because for commercial competition’s sake they wanted to “cut costs”. Now in leading newsrooms you simply have many young, carefully selected journalists who are very mindful of who feeds them. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you is a very important lesson they learn first of all. Then they are provided with “news” by two major international news gathering enterprises, who pre select what is “worthwhile” to report on.

    In the newsrooms they have to pass stories they get, or which they may come across themselves, past an over worked and over stressed editor, who again “selects” what may be “newsworthy”.

    Hence you have already at least two stages of self imposed internal “selection” or aka “censorship” taking place.

    Then the bulk of media operations in NZ are privately owned. Papers are generally owned by Fairfax or APN (both Australian owned).

    There are almost exclusively private radio stations tending to offer “light entertainment”, shallow “talk back”, lots of music and even more commercials. They have to be mindful that their incomes are generated by advertising, so again it comes to mind: “Do not bite the hand that feeds you”.

    Television is either free to air or private (Sky TV). There you have a similar situation as with radio. TVNZ has become more or less a commercial style operation, although it gets some state funding of course. Advertising generates a lot of their revenue.

    The only free to air TV media worth looking at more frequently is TVNZ’s TV7 and Maori TV. Admittedly there is the odd program on TVOne or TV3 that offers some information and political debate, but how independent are the journos working there these days?

    So the pressure is there to “conform” to the supposed “mainstream” and to be mindful of the hand that feeds you. Add to that the arrogance of certain politicians, to only face the media on their terms (Smiley Don Key is one of the best examples), then you have a scenario where journalists almost have to beg to get an interview.

    Given this situation we do not get much real information and we instead get fed a lot of superficial drivel, sensationalist headline stuff and even misinformation (real news rated less important than drivel, scandals and sensational stuff).

    So it does not surprise that we get somewhat peculiar and possibly biased poll results published regularly. Many have become too complacent to even bother questioning what goes on. Sad state of affairs this is. NZ media could do better and needs Nicky Hager to look into what goes on there!

    • Private Parts ex army 4.1

      And I understand that Key wants to close down TV7

      • HC 4.1.1

        You are correct! Stephen Joyce (formerly involved with Mediaworks) plays a role in this too. The agenda is to promote private media and ideally do away with the last media operations that still at least attempt to inform and present balanced information – e.g. TV7, National Radio!

        The “elite” (top business and certain political leaders) want to control this society totally, so we do not get any “silly” ideas and rock the boat.

    • tc 4.2

      Take issue with TVNZ7 being worthy, just expanded TVNZ dross IMO, maori TV are doing a great job on limited funds. Jornalism is in its death rattle unless you work for an independent outlet such as ABC/SBS in OZ, guardian in UK who are fiercely independent with management structures designed to insulate from outside influence.

      We only have mediums of delivering the masters message in NZ, blogs aside who abide by their backers beliefs and fair enough after all it is the web. This one does a sterling job of telling it like it is and letting the trolls play to earn their paymasters approval. What interesting times.

      • HC 4.2.1

        I agree that Maori TV are doing a very good job with the limited funding they get. Also are Stratos and Triange worth watching at times. I have realised though that they are also increasingly offering commercial advertising, which will regrettably lead to some compromises that they feel they will need to make.

  5. ghostwhowalksnz 5

    Small makes a telling comment about the US presence

    It is something this reporter was specifically briefed on, although with a request not to publish details for operational security reasons

    So it was a secret after all, nudge nudge.
    Others have commented that the locals know about the US presence on base, so the ‘operational security’ seems to be a stretch, more to cover the wool over NZ publics eyes

  6. alex 6

    Ah, but this is really nothing new. Media organisations have always been controlled by private interests. Fortunately alternative media outlets always exist in tandem, for example, in the 20th century we have had pirate radio, union/worker newspapers, foreign media etc. Now we have the blogosphere, which is very much a confused jumble of voices, but importantly, one that is almost impossible to silence.

  7. HC 7

    At times even the established private media comes out with reports that reveal things that have been kept secret for years. This usually only happens when alternative media like Wikileaks and Nicky Hager and the likes have already taken the lid off “sensitive” information.

    We now get reports every day how NATO and western powers “assited” the Lybian people to free themselves from a dictator and his family clan.

    Have a read of the following story – AND read between the lines, about what has actually happened in between the CIA and the Gaddhafi regime for many years.

    A change of heart in the governments in the UK, France and the US only came after “rebels” or rather the majority of the population went out onto the streets to demand and fight for change. Prior to that they had no moral scruples. And that is the fact with a wide range of countries and their regimes. If anything blossoms, it is hypocrisy.

    Thank goodness we have at least someone like Nicky Hager working on revealing the truth!


    • mik e 7.1

      RWC band the feelers are making music for nationals campaign it’ll back fire if the abs loose.
      embedded journo’s no way,
      US Directing our sis sas defence no way
      John Key being honest no way

      • Vicky32 7.1.1

        RWC band the feelers are making music for nationals campaign it’ll back fire if the abs loose.
        embedded journo’s no way,

        Oh really? Well, I went seriously off them when they became the RWC band anyway, re-making a British song into a whine for thugby..

  8. Afewknowthetruth 8

    Every day that passes we get more evidence that the entire system is riddled with corruption and lies.

    That is just one of the many reasons why the entire system is now collapsing.

  9. alex 9


    This link was featured prominently on stuff, then suddenly was gone without a trace. I wonder why?

    • Jim Nald 9.1

      Suddenly gone! Quite convenient, that.

      Political machinations wed media Murdochinations = corrupt marriage of convenience selling out nations.

      Facts, evidence and truth are inconvenient in this climate of combined corporate-sponsored, foreign-influenced government and corporate-owned media.

      Watch, in the months ahead, this government campaigning on policies of convenience and wallowing in the politics of convenience, being aided and abetted by mass media.

  10. reporter 10

    I’ve worked as a journalist for 7 years in the NZ print media (by the way, I’m not a political reporter), and a few personal reflections of the industry are as follows:

    The person speaking about the hand that feeds does have some element of truth about it. When you have a good story that affects one of your key sources, you have to make a judgement call whether reporting it is worth it or not as if you do, you effectivly burn that bridge with that particular source.
    The journalists I work with on most occasions fall on the side of public interest as reporters know, whatever round they do that their key sources need them as much as we do. This is because most daily papers have a monopoly on news in their region. There is very little competition in NZ print media apart from the sunday papers, agricultural reporting and a few other specialist papers.
    The source may sulk for a week, but if the story is accurate and balanced, they will talk to you again eventually.

    Journalists are as independent as they can be, given the workload, staffing issues, downsizing and crap pay that we get. Our newsroom has a good mix of young and older experienced heads, which we are very lucky to have, unlike the TV networks particularly TV1, who seem to be hiring tweens these days.
    We have morning meetings with our chief reporter and discuss story ideas of the day and he in turn tells the editor what is happening. The stories are not censored as someone said here, but fact checked by several sets of eyes to make sure it makes sense, not defamatory etc… It’s not a perfect system but that’s how it’s done. The editor also has to decide what goes on the front page etc and that decsion is often governed by the paper’s readership, for example if its a provincial daily paper, it is generally a hard news local story. I’m sure other papers have a similar format.

    Our paper is not controlled by private interests. With a corporate owner, it’s a commercial business where making money is the aim. But this does not mean we are influenced by our advertisers and there is a very clear division between the advertising department and editorial. When that line gets blurred, your integrity as a publication goes out the window.
    I only know of one occasion in my 7 years as a journalist where the advertising dept has leaned on editoral not to run a story that was critical of a client and it happened on a rival publication at my previous job. Just as an aside, I firmly believe that National Radio can take advertising without affecting its editorial integrity and solve its funding problems. The sky will not fall if it does so.

    As for political influence, personally I don’t really see it happening a lot in my paper – that’s not to say it doesn’t happen elsewhere.
    The NZ Herald is quite right wing while the Sunday Star Times and National Radio is on the left, in my opinion.

    In perfect world, every newsroom would have a few Nicky Hagars doing investigations, but in doing so means losing a reporter to cover a newsround on a daily basis and most newsrooms can’t spare that, so it is a resources issue as well as a time issue. Good journalism takes time to write and investigate and time is often the biggest factor in stopping journos from further developing a story.

    I guess what I’m saying is that we do our best given the circumstances.
    Most of us at my paper work our butts off to get the paper out six days a week and it’s often a pretty thankless task given the nutters writing letters and abusive phone calls we often get. We are not perfect and don’t pretend to be but nor are we corrupt. Cheers.

    • Zetetic 10.1

      all fair points and an acknowledgement that media coverage takes place within a power structure and, so, is influenced by that structure.

      I wouldn’t call journalism corrupt. I would just say that nobody can forget what side their bread is buttered on and when you depend on the good favour of ascendent politicians for your stories, your coverage will be influenced by that.

    • alex 10.2

      Corruption is a very serious allegation, and I doubt anyone would be willing to go on record making it against a media organisation (partly because they would get the shit lawyered out of them) Having said that though, I think there is a definate trend away from covering ‘hard’ news, or stories that may be unpopular, as it clashes with the point you made about media organisations being businesses. The removal of the Apiata story is a case in point, it wouldn’t have been popular as it shows a war hero potentially undermining the military, which breaks the trust people have in both a figure of national prominence and pride, Apiata, and an organisation which generally has a good reputation, the army. Furthermore, it gives credence to Hager’s claims, and there does seem to be a consistent slant against him, in an attempt to portray him as a far left wacko, when really it may well be Hager who is serving the public’s right to information, rather than the media.

    • Vicky32 10.3

      National Radio is on the left, in my opinion.

      I disagree! Maybe it used to be, but certainly isn’t now… (except in weird patches here and there.)

    • HC 10.4

      Reporter: Thank you for your comments and sharing your work experience at a corporate owned media company. It is good to hear that this website and blogs published here are also taken note of and read by media personnel with your background.

      As far as I can remember, Duncan Garner from TV3 does also at times look into this space.

      It is good to learn that ‘The Standard’ is taken seriously and not just as a “hang out” of some “lefties”.

      I respect your personal experiences and how you view your own situation as an employed reporter. When having used the word “censorship” in my post, then this was done with the intention of applying that word in a wider and looser sense.

      Of course we do not have censorship as it is known in truly dictatorial systems, but having myself worked in corporate environments (not media), the internally applied processes, procedures and “values” (often “politically correctly tinted”) do have an effect on how staff in such an environment behave and work. By applying and enforcing certain standards and criteria (high value, low value, public interest, not so interesting, current, non current, questionable source, reliable source, headline stuff, back-page stuff…), there is usually always a kind of preferential selection applied in media, whatever the reason.

      How for example is it decided, what is in the public interest? What is judged as being the kind of stuff that “the public” is interested in and wants to read and hear. Is that not going to the core of the problem, where we are only offered a narrow range of “choice” re what is made available, what is thus selected and published?

      When making my comments above I was reflecting on experiences a relatively young journalist shared with me some time ago. The situation may well be different from company to company, outlet to outlet, but the fact that many journalists are lowly paid, over-worked, have to go through stages to get a story accepted and brought out, proves what I mean.

      Even a self imposed “selection” is a form of self imposed “censorship” in a wider sense.

      But as it is with many workers and non workers these days, we are often not even that aware of how much the “culture” we are expected to work and live under is actually influencing us. The fact that you consider ‘National Radio’ and the ‘Sunday Star Times’ as being on “the left” gives me the impression, that you may be more “main stream” or “conservative” than you may be aware of.

      National Radio is from my view rather very “centrist” in a political sense, because the station and its staff are trying to cater for as many as possible. That is fair and right, I feel.

      There is very little in the way of “media” in NZ that I would consider to be “left” these days.

      But thanks anyway for sharing your story. I welcome people from the journalistic “coal face” to share more.

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