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Tabloid news

Written By: - Date published: 9:27 am, July 10th, 2012 - 29 comments
Categories: democracy under attack, Media, newspapers - Tags: ,

I know I just wrote about this yesterday – probably why I’m sensitive to the issue right now. But honestly, The Herald, could the front page last night have been any worse? The top several articles are all death / grief porn, and the rest are sports and celebrity fluff. Is this really what we want from “news” media? Is it really what we need?

Thomas Jefferson said “Educate and inform the whole mass of the people…they are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.” He was right. But neither “the market” nor the current government is interested in educating and informing. If we put up with it then we get what we deserve…

29 comments on “Tabloid news”

  1. Carol 1

    I just had a look at the 1st 3 pages of today’s hard copy of the NZ Herald, on Press Display. The top 2 thirds of the page is dominated by images of sports and the “Tragic end to Kiwis base jump adventure”.

    Down the bottom is “Maori plan to fight Key’s ‘ignore it'”, with a photo of a Napuhi kaumatua Owen Kingi, mouth open arms gesturing aggressively.


    Page 2 is dominated by “Maori state objection to asset sales”, by Alan Bennett, with image of Waitangi Tribunal’s Pou Temara.


    A reasonable summation of the issues, but with Audrey Young’s q & a beside it, which tends to favour Key’s position:

    Would it be in Key’s interests to ignore the tribunal’s recommendation?

    It would depend on what the recommendation was: if the tribunal’s finding included assumptions that Maori owned the water, he could safely ignore it. But it is unlikely to find that.

    Does this have the potential to stall the sale of Mighty River shares?

    No. The greater risk for the Government would be a challenge in the High Court because it has powers to declare actions unlawful and halt or delay the Government’s plans. Audrey Young

    Page 3 is dominated by “Drug use defies police taser shots” headline with “Walker in coma after train hit” below it (photo of train). Under that is an article about a French responses to an attack on a hitchhiker.

    So, one piece of political news, amongst a lot of more sensationalist stuff. This also tends to bleed into the images and headlines of the the Maori challenges to asset sales, also giving it an angry-Maori, sensationalist look.

  2. Sam Hall 2

    what is interesting and revealing is the letters or comments to the opinion pieces. Often there appears to be quite a dichotomy in the opinions/attitudes revealed. Wonder how representative these are of the wider population. Furthermore, there are some very narrow and unhealthy for society attitudes and beliefs held by many of the writers. Which is concerning, as the writers often “appear” “educated” in the typical sense New Zealanders are.

    • shorts 2.1

      I often skim articles as I head to the comments – the real opinions are those of the publics – similar to here and other places… i

      Its the commentators that add real views and insights to the topic on hand plus a glimpse into my fellow countrypeoples minds… the good the bad and the plain revolting 

      • Olwyn 2.1.1

        I tend to do the same, although I would be less quick to do so if the news section contained properly contexutalised, broadly relevant news. I buy a print newspaper once a week (the Dom, although I live in Auckland) for the cryptic crosswords.

  3. Dave Guerin 3

    I do wonder if part of the problem with the end of the day look is the separation of the web and print sides of the business. Fairfax is looking to properly integrate them over the other side of the Tasman, but the NZ Herald might be relying on a lightly resourced web newsroom at the end of the day just pulling off news feeds whereas print-focused journalists are loading stories for the print edition that won’t go live until 5-7am the next morning.

    That doesn’t explain Carol’s review of today’s print paper, but you’d expect less depth later in the day on the website while the focus is still on selling morning newspapers.

    Of course, our papers aren’t all that high-minded in the first place.

    • Olwyn 3.1

      I blame in part the quantity of news media, and the journalists access to it. If you piss people off, they deny you access, and you have to come up with goods of some sort every day to keep your job. I think the same sort of thing pulls politics toward the right and the trivial as well: annoy the powerful enough and you are shut out of the information loop.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 3.2

      The Herald website is essentially a ‘content farm’ designed to gather up page clicks.

      The online audience is skewed to younger male and the headlines are meant to catch them. The ‘headless body in topless bar ‘ type of reader

  4. Dr Terry 4

    Carol, congratulations, your comments are consistently the best on offer. The only question I would ask is, when does Audrey Young not “tend” (to put it mildly) to favour National (= Key)? I think possibly more people are beginning to discern the problem facing us, but there could also exist a pervasive sense of helplessness We must avoid torpor and remain highly vigilant. Thanks for your stimulating and perceptive contributions.

    • Carol 4.1

      Thanks, Dr T. I have quite a strong background and interest in media analysis.

      One of my weakest areas is economics, so I tend to read (and hopefully learn from) what other people here have to say on that. Some commenters and posters say some very informative things on the economy, and are a welcome alternative to the neo-liberal establishment.

      Agree on Audrey Young.

  5. Tiger Mountain 5

    A major reason I buy a lotto ticket most weeks is because a couple of mill would be enough to start a modest left wing media operation. Including a small commercial arm, design, quick print, www sites etc to help fund it on an ongoing basis.

    • left think tank and research unit involving marxist, social democratic and iwi organisations
    • a daily news sheet sold at cost and associated free to view www presence with ads
    • Radio Free Aotearoa (this would be the most problematic part)

    The freedom of the press belongs to them that own the presses I was taught when I took on this class struggle thing many years ago. Sure lotto is long if not impossible odds, but unions and certain other groups could pool resources and get something happening along my points above.

    • Colonial Viper 5.1

      Dammit Tiger, spot on!

      And this is the key – if you started it with $1M, you could easily attract contributions from wealthy lefty contributors and end up with a total of $4M or $5M to work with.

      • Radio Free Aotearoa (this would be the most problematic part)

      Start this as an internet radio station. Allow syndication through local independent radio stations.

      • Bored 5.1.1

        Tiger is onto it…but as with the Ring of Power we need to be aware of the inherent corruption that goes with taking ownership of both the means of delivery (paper and internet) and the ability to edit content (ideological viewpoint). Maybe papers need to carry an ideological identifier like a cigarette package does with a Health Warning……..

        • Tiger Mountain

          Good idea Bored. Papers like the Herald get away with pushing the owners viewpoint partly because readers look at certain factual content such as sports results and conflate that to some wider aura of ‘accuracy’ or credibility for the more ideologically angled copy. Phrases such as “But it was in the Herald”, “I read in the Herald there were only 500 at that march” are still uttered by too many kiwis.

    • r0b 5.2

      Hmmmmmm. You folk ever heard of kickstarter? http://www.kickstarter.com/

      Have a look. What do you reckon?

      • Carol 5.2.1

        I have heard of kickstarter. I know some people rate it well for funding screen drama productions, web dramas etc.

        Don’t know how it’d work for a news show, but worth a try.

  6. captain hook 6

    AR..Keep up the good work.
    the standard of journalism in NZ is inexorably headed downwards.
    Just listen to radio sport and radio swawkback and you will know just what depths of lightweight piffle the media is serving up these days.
    what makes it worse is that these people still think they have a role to play in teh fabric of society when they are just hucksters and worse.

  7. The DomPost has gone from bad to worse in the just the last couple of weeks and have even taken out a 1 page in today’s issue to counter criticism about themselves. 

    The only thing I read it for now is the editorials and ‘Letters’.  

    • Rosie 7.1

      Agreed Contrarian. Reading DomPost these days can feel like some sort of brain assault. You can almost imagine the neurons dying. I particularly like misleading headlines such as “X people disagree with Y policy” and you go on to read that 30% of people polled disagreed with a given statement…………so those other 70%? WTF?

  8. Let’s be thankfull we have the Standard. The only other source of worth while news is to recieve some of the UK newspapers on line.

    Tories have always and always will be scared stiff of working people gaining knowledge and infornation. They ruined the WEO and then evening classes ,followed by dismantling channel 7 . I beginning to seriously think maybe revolution ,In fact if there were a couple of good leaders in the world there is no doubt all the unrest in the world would develop into revolution.

    • I’d be a little broader than that – be glad we have blogs/opinions/news from all sources. Right, Left, socialist, conservative, religious, non-religious etc etc

  9. Sam Hall 9

    Does The Standard blogsite censor nihilists???
    Afraid like everyone else???
    Can you handle the hemlock??

    • freedom 9.1

      Sam , sometimes words and phrases trigger a moderator check. Many of us have experienced it and despite the sometimes baffling triggers, I for one trust the ‘comment is awaiting moderation’ system employed here on The Standard. When i first started throwing in my 2c I learned quickly how fair and above all how rational the moderators of the Standard are. Just yesterday I made a few comments and at least two went through moderation ( which i assume were trigger word related)

      I have never experienced censorship or fear at the Standard, just calm hands trying to maintain a modicum of civility and progression of discussion, in a medium awash with ignorance and vitriol.

      Also remember there are times it takes a bit longer for a moderation alert to be attended to, these people have lives too, and a little patience is a good thing. Hope your day improves.

      • Carol 9.1.1

        Went through moderation yesterday with a post about those commenter/posters who divert or disrupt discussions….. won’t use the word for it, just in case.

        When that happens, I trust the mods and wait for the comment to be released.

  10. jack 10

    The print media that are owned by Australian firms have an agenda. They’re keeping the real news that require research away from the public. They are far from being unbiased in their reporting and Key is being protected for some reason. I think when Key was complaining about the news media getting on his case, that was for show. As I mentioned before, suddenly the media like John Key after his asset sales which about 80 percent of us don’t want it. In the future the polls will come out with National gaining. It’s almost so predictable, it’s boring. I doubt it is true, though. I never walk away feeling I have learned anything from TV3 AND 1 which is why I stopped watching it. I watch Masterchef Australia, it’s more entertaining and there’s more truth to it.

  11. Fortran 11

    Easy – don’t buy the newspaper.
    I cancelled a long time ago, but go online and read what I want in 5 minutes max.
    If I was asked to pay like some UK and Aus papers I do not bother.
    Why pay for crap paper – except for the toilet.

  12. jack 12

    I don’t. Haven’t bought a paper in years. My daughter is a paper girl for our local papery (APN) and I rarely read it. Just use it to start the fires with. I get most of my news from blogs and Scoop and will read the Otago news online. That is independently and kiwi owned.

  13. Observer Akl 13

    Hi Dr Terry

    I also think that Carol puts effort and balance into her comments. Glad you have acknowledged her.

    For my part as an infrequent commentator, I shun writers who are outrageously Left or Right. Can’t help myself.

    I am not Utopian; Not for Left nor for Right; Not Republican nor Democrat; not Fascist nor Communist; not Capitalist nor Socialist.

    Writers appeal to me who carefully open each issue as if it were an Oyster, and put it to the nose – to see if it is sweet or stinks. Why is this issue arising now?; what is the nitty?; what is the context of the issue; who is going to benefit and who is going to suffer?; what is the common good?

    The small words in our language open the widest doors: what, who, when, why, who benefits et alia. In assessing Politicians there is only one safe measure – and that is certainly not their words, but their actions.

    For example, if a politician gives tax breaks to the very rich at the height of a global recession whilst raising GST and bailing out wealthy investors who backed shoddy Finance Firms – then the actions speak loudly. The commoners won’t benefit, whether they call themselves middle class or not. The very secure wealthy will benefit.

    So that politician has not pledged himself to his Sovereign Nation, but to his wealthy friends.

    As jobs rapidly dry up, that same politician will do his utmost to take further assets from the people and grant them to his chosen few.

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