Stewart on our rubbish media

Written By: - Date published: 12:27 pm, September 2nd, 2015 - 30 comments
Categories: journalism, Media - Tags: , ,

Rachel Stewart has had some time out with the flu (sorry to hear it!). It has left her with time to reflect:

…Like many folk I have become increasingly dispirited at the new world media. Clickbait, endless and easy crime stories, entertainment news disguised as meaningful when it isn’t. The list of horrors is endless.

Our two nightly news channels have, in recent years, morphed into something only slightly resembling journalism. I have spent so many nights jaw dropped over the choice of lead, or to what lengths a self-obsessed political journalist will go to insert themselves into the story of the day.

The obsession with crime astounds me, and the laziness of that reportage is obvious. Tourists to New Zealand often comment how unsafe they feel here but only after they’ve happened to catch a news bulletin. The reality is that we are fixated on crime to the detriment of important news.

Look at the structure of the news and weep. The first segment is invariably New Zealand news, and sometimes unashamedly led by a sporting story – this despite a third of the news being designated to sport anyway.

The second segment goes offshore and generally spends a tiny amount of time on large, important global stories – no doubt thinking we are too thick or too parochial to want anything more in-depth. A self-fulfilling prophecy if ever I’ve seen one.

Also, and too often for comfort, the reporter finds a Kiwi somehow tenuously connected to the major, offshore story. The Kiwi connection always makes me squirm. You?

Then comes sport. Men’s sport dominates because “people just aren’t interested in girl’s sport”. Well, of course, if you never really see any then that becomes true too.

Sadly, changing channels won’t alter this mind-numbing, soul-devouring format. For a slightly more white, smug and smarmy feel just stay tuned to our state broadcaster.

Print media has overtly degenerated too. However, since you’re reading me within it right now I’ll say a bit less about that. What I will say is that what passes for journalism on some news sites is beyond comprehension. Literally and figuratively. …

Go read the whole piece – profoundly depressing.

30 comments on “Stewart on our rubbish media”

  1. dukeofurl 1

    One good thing from the decline in print advertisements in newspapers, has been the decline in print junk mail too !

  2. Rachel is hardly in any position to criticise other journalists after her record.

    How about those open carry guns she says she saw in Texas cafes?

  3. save NZ 3

    +100 and excellent analysis – in particular the self fulfilling prophecy and the difference between crime and news. 30% of news is sports is also a good one to point out.

    No wonder people watching ‘the news’ are turning off and why so many people watching the news know nothing about what is going on.

  4. Ad 4

    Anyone seen Nighcrawler?

    Very on point.

    • freedom 4.1

      Such a good film – as disturbing as it is revelatory.
      ( anyone who says Jake Gyllenhaal can’t act might want to give this film some focused attention.)

  5. mike 5

    I couldn’t agree with Rachel Steward more. Especially when she concludes ‘silence can be golden, the world keeps turning without any tuning in from me’. I do hope she can stick to her new found disdain for ‘reporters’ and keep the television and radio firmly switched off. I certainly have. For years now. Long ago I developed a loathing for being ‘told’ the news. It sounds exactly like gossip. Just as fatuous, and just as snippy. What’s more, a ‘news bulletin’ does not allow me to choose the stories I’m interested in. Instead, I have to sit through revolting beheadings, tragic baby stuff, and political spin – all very off putting and none of which I can do anything about. Not to mention forced bonhomie and thinly disguised judgmental facial twitches. No wonder our aged people are terrified in their homes.
    I lived through ten thousand earthquakes in Christchurch without tuning in. Too much Bob Parker for my liking. I looked at footage on the net, went rubbernecking myself, kept in touch with family, and talked to acquaintances at the supermarket.
    Made up my own mind thanks.
    There are so many wonderful places on the net to be informed by, both in words and pictures, although I do admit to the occasional newspaper because I can choose what to read and I like the feel of it in my hands. But being told what is happening in the world by vacuous egomaniac men is a no-no. Television and radio are saved for times when news junkies have clutched their screaming heads and run outside.

  6. BM 6

    TV News is geared for ages 50-55+

    Probably all their marketing tell them, this is what people of this age group who tune into the news like to see.

    Just catering for their audience .

    • Ilicit 6.1

      Bowl me over BM, never would I have thought a guy my age would have lost his brain enough to not notice such a stupid comment !!!

      Seems to me that older folks are more critical than those younger when it comes to criticising the MSM.

      A babe in arms is all that you are, so much to learn…..

    • Fran 6.2

      I did not lose my ability to think when I turned 50.

    • Keith 6.3

      TV news is for half wits who think the shit they are watching that is masquerading as news is real. Oh and it’s about the self important news readers too, and for opinions from rugby gods like Richie McCaw.

    • AmaKiwi 6.4

      @ BM

      Correction: “TV News is geared for IQ’s of 50-55+”

      IQ is not age related.

  7. Grantoc 7

    I agree with your comments.

    I was astounded a couple of nights ago when TVNZ led the 6pm news with some footage showing a bottle store worker getting bonked over the head by a juvenile with a full bottle of spirits. This was the sort of story that in a serious media outlet might have had made the foot notes. More likely it wouldn’t have been reported at all.

    Then, knock me over with a feather, the same story turned up again the next night on TVNZ’s 6 pm news! It wasn’t news the previous evenin; it was even less the news the following night.

    It was obvious that the reason why TVNZ and its ‘journalists’/’presenters’ wanted to wank themselves silly over this item was because it showed someone getting hit over the head with a bottle – it was ‘sensational’ and ‘dramatic’. But it was not news.

    It was just a complete nonsense.

    I could on….but the conclusion is the same, the ‘news’ so called on tvnz is worse than what the traditional tabloids dish up.

  8. Detrie 8

    Sadly it is a worldwide trend. Look at CNN and BBC on sky and the same issues are seen. It’s about entertainment or, in the case of Fox news, brainwashing and bigotry. The demise of investigative journalism and professional news delivery on our TV channels is both sad and concerning. Because of this, I certainly don’t watch the evening news and ‘current affairs’ now, relying more on national radio in the morning where at least we do get to hear some of our leaders squirm on occasion. They tell me John Campbell is to re-appear here, the late afternoon slot and multicast online too.

    • Morrissey 8.1

      Look at CNN and BBC on sky and the same issues are seen. It’s about entertainment or, in the case of Fox news, brainwashing and bigotry.

      Actually, the BBC and CNN are as guilty of brainwashing and bigotry as Fox News is. Fox News is a bit more overt in its unpleasantness, but essentially they are all vehicles of business and government propaganda.

      As horrible and outrageous as Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity are every day, I doubt they could be any more outrageous or more unfair or more disgusting than this lynch mob…..

  9. JanM 9

    This is an excellent analysis – I agree totally. I’ve been grizzling for a long time but my ‘this really is enough’ moment came the other day when one of the channels had speculation about the All Black team as their lead story – purlease!!!!! 🙁

  10. Anne 10

    …no doubt thinking we are too thick or too parochial to want anything more in-depth.

    Wrong Rachel Stewart. It’s the TV news ‘journos’ and their support staff who are too thick or too parochial…..

    Having said that, I couldn’t agree more with Rachel Stewart. The desire to wallow in every ghoulish detail of murder cases is especially distasteful. The moral of the story… if you want your 15 mins of fame then go and commit a serious crime.

  11. pete 11

    Funny you say that.

    On July 7th, 2015, I had to take a snapshot of the NZ Herald Online (see here).

    The only thing that puzzled me was that “Alarm over ‘alien space ship’ sightings” wasn’t at the top.

  12. Mrs Brillo 12

    And we did it to ourselves. Just us and Saint Rupert. Out of greed and prurience.

    Some years ago I was working in a European country with some of the world’s best health, safety and crime statistics.

    Crime reporting was low key. The local papers reported on crime by publishing, in the worst cases only, just a modest couple of paragraphs of precis of the case and trial, using only initials and not the criminal’s – or the victim’s – names. Small headlines too.

    The big splashy gruesome and dramatic headlines that New Zealand papers relish, the pages of speculation and the tacky and provocative photos our media wallows in, were entirely missing.

    Crime there simply had no media-induced panic attached to it.

    Result, crime assumed its more statistically appropriate place as a lesser social evil, and society’s care and attention were directed to more prevailing problems needing solving. No wonder that country’s health, education, safety and prosperity figures knocked, and still knock, New Zealand’s into an abandoned coal mine.

    • JanM 12.1

      Actually I can remember when we did the same here – just a minimal reporting of the cases on about P5 or 7 – no sensationalist stuff. I was reading the ODT then (1960s)

  13. Padre Pete 13

    “The Kiwi connection always makes me squirm. You?”

    It makes me cringe or groan. When TV1 or TV3 report on a plane crash or an earthquake overseas, they earnestly report, as though it was the most important facet of the story, “no kiwis were hurt”. (Well, it would be strange if one of those flightless birds with hairy feathers and a long beak was on board a plane or living in Tibet!)

  14. Glenn 14

    The next 2 decades will IMHO bring about the decline and decimation of much of our media. The local Fairfax rag has most of it’s premises up for lease and is now printed in Porirua many miles from here.. Much of it’s news is now syndicated blurb of little interest. The local radio station is just a repeater station for ZB and their obnoxious shit albeit with some local ads. Little local content and very few local jobs.
    Radio NZ will be destroyed by this right wing clique in power and all that will be left is our pathetic attempt at TV.
    Jeesus the sooner the fecking lot are gone the better!

    The internet, new technology and pay tv are quickly filling the void that has been left and unless the politicians of this world manage to stuff it up it will become far superior and much more interesting than the rubbish we have all had to put up with.

  15. Venezia 15

    I totally agree with Rachel. Rubbish media indeed. I have not watched NZ TV channels since Campbellive was canned. Have decided not to renew my sub to The Press when it expires. I am dismayed at the slow, unrelenting abandonment of journalistic standards in favour of shallow, headline grabbing tripe, mostly benefitting the political elite or corporate interests.

  16. adam 16

    Fast becoming one of my favourite shows – the big picture. OK title misleading – talk about politics and media around Katrina

    The web site of the interviewer, Russ Baker, http://whowhatwhy.org/

  17. weston 17

    yeah the news is crap and been getting worse for years ,if the so called news itself wasnt bad enough that stupid singsong way that reporters speak drives me nuts .ive been giving radnat grief for years via txt and i think surely others have too but nothing ever changes its like they got a formula and thats it .ive often thought theres so much scope /ammunition for a comedy sending up this crud if we had a gd enough team they could be mocked hard.at least we d have the relief of a good laugh then rather than pulling our hair out !1

  18. tc 18

    MSM is the top telling the middle it’s the lowers fault.

    They are just mediums for delivering the themes, messages and rants from right leaning so called experts now, journalism has been an endangered species awhile.

    Rebekah Brooke’s is back at Wuppert central in London already so there’s the moral compass for you.

  19. Paul 19

    A very enlightening film that looks at the capture of media by large corporates.
    Shadows of Liberty.

  20. grumpystilskin 20

    Don’t forget “the news” is there to sell advertising space, not inform.
    A friend was working for tv3 news when it first started and was told in a meeting with most staff present by the SEO, that they made the bits between his advertising and not to forget it.

  21. Mike the Savage One 21

    From Rachel’s comments: “…Like many folk I have become increasingly dispirited at the new world media. Clickbait, endless and easy crime stories, entertainment news disguised as meaningful when it isn’t. The list of horrors is endless.”

    Clickbait, yes, that is an appropriate word for some of it.

    But this is not only happening in New Zealand, the trend is heading into this “infotainment” and quick, short and shallow reporting all over the globe, even listening to the BBC does now make me feel shocked.

    What are the reasons for it? Partly it is of course the change in the media landscape, where traditional media face more competition by online media, and that “competition” is in reader- and viewership, and resulting advertising revenue to earn.

    State funded and community broadcasting and media have been on the way out, especially here in New Zealand, or adapted so much to the private and commercial media competition, they look and feel little different now.

    Costs are cut, staff numbers reduced, and organisations restructured over and over again, so quality and standards are dropping, to maintain commercial feasibility.

    But I think it is more to it than what we think. The whole communication and media consumption behaviour of people has changed, particularly that of the younger generation. They have grown up with the computer, with internet services and with mobile and smart phones.

    All the technological “advances” are mostly technological, offering more options, more diversity and a huge amount of information, that is hard to digest for any human being. So people “sort” and prioritise, and most also fall for “effects” as part of the now so widespread “instant gratification” expectation. People love quick, short and effective information, in pictures, short lined messages (see Twitter), and combine personal interests with using and sharing media.

    The result is button pushing behaviour, click and push, and load and unload, all in split seconds, flickering past the eyes and ears, and there is not much analysing and research going on. Much is accepted at face value.

    Also has the tertiary and general education approach changed, now geared to more emphasis on practical stuff, on business friendly approaches, on an very utilitarian way of doing and interpreting things. Students are taught what they “need” to get on in life, and much is about numbers, endless data, and again, people are forced to prioritise, reprioritise and to pick and select what is of immediate importance and use.

    A whole new generation or “breed” of humans is being created, that no longer learns much about complexities, about social matters, about analysing information and developing a deeper understanding. Most do not properly digest the instant flow of information of shallow quality thrown at them, and so they tend to react and adjust, than take a firm, well grounded position and view, and hence there is no more “protesting”, there is no more collective thinking and planning, it is all just bits of it here and there, and a mass of individuals are easy prey for the commercial and sometimes state forces to manipulate them, for a greater end use, that few are actually part of.

    All this shows in the media we have, it is reduced to the same approaches, commiditisation and commercialisation of every aspect of life, where we are rather numbers in a mass of faceless people, who cannot even communicate much face to face anymore, as we stare and hide behind screens, 24/7 for many.

    A sad and almost Orwellian future is evolving.

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