Mike Hosking had this spectacular rant about the media this week. He said:
Not remotely surprised trust in media is falling. It’s falling, according to the authors of this week’s latest report into the industry, at “an alarming rate.”
This is the AUT Trust in News in New Zealand report. They mark various organisations out of 10. Over the past three years overall it’s gone from 62%, as in 62% of us trust the media, down to 52%.
That’s barely over half. In a year’s time, at this rate, the majority of us won’t trust the media.
State-run and funded media has been hard hit. Iwi Radio, Māori Television, and TVNZ dropped more than 10% from the previous year. That is an indictment and we have every right to ask some serious questions around neutrality and whether we are getting value for money.
Here is the frustrating if not depressing thing for me, a person who has plied his trade in this sector for over 40 years, it is all so predictable. This is not a surprise. It has, not only been coming for years, it is, in too many cases, encouraged.
Too much of the media is biased. The danger in it is not the fact they are biased, it’s the fact they claim they aren’t. They claim they are the defenders of the truth. In that is the con.
Two things emerge from his article. Firstly without a shred of self reflection Hosking claims that reporters who claim to be defenders of truth are a con. His own byline says that he is someone who “ask[s] hard-hitting questions of those in power”. Maybe it is time for him to get a new byline.
Secondly his clear view is that the ravages that Fox news and Rupert Murdoch have had on the media industry internationally are not to blame. It is that damned State media that is the cause of the problems.
What he does not say is that Newstalk ZB and the Herald, two media outlets he has considerable say in, have also seen their trust rating decline. Over the past two years Newstalk ZB’s rating dropped from 6.2% to 5.7% and in the Herald the decline was from 6.3% to 5.7%. RNZ’s trust rating at 6.2% is significantly higher than either rating.
The report his comments is based on is pretty weird and allows significant room for quotes from people who oppose State support for media. If the writers drilled down even more they could have come up I am sure with comments about George Soros and World Government and Agenda 21. I am not sure why they did not mention these views.
The reported comments included these:
Both sets of views show increasingly polarised views of the causes of the decline in people’s faith depending clearly on the interviewee’s world view. Social media has a lot to answer for.
The number of people claiming that the Government has somehow bought the media is interesting. The report says that 26% of the sample do not trust the media because it is funded by the Government. Clearly Rupert Murdoch and Fox News’s offerings are more to their taste although when you think that the anti vax movement, NZ First supporters and erstwhile Act supporters would form most of these people it is not so surprising.
What would be good is an empirical study to show what effect state funding has on media. My personal view is that it is the only way to start to address balance against corporate media whose world view is terribly myopic. Complaining about the likes of New Zealand on Air or Maori Television shows an intolerance on alternative views that belies expression of the need to present both sides of a story.
This is a deeply important subject. It deserves more than the likes of Mike Hosking throwing unbalanced barbs at the Government for failing trust in the media primarily linked to the polarisation caused by the likes of Fox News and Rupert Murdoch.