Thursday, 12 May 2016

When media make themselves the news


In less than 24 hours, the amount of flat-out garbage talked about a proposed media mega-mergers has only confirmed for me why taking these media maves seriously.

There are none so self-obsesssed as media types talking about themselves. Seems too there are none fewer with such a deluded sense of self-importance.

For me, the nadir of this maudlin group grope was this morning on State Radio, when two men who as much as any others (former heads of Fairfax and 3 News) have helped ensure he decline of NZ’s media standards were talking crap about the talked-up media merger meaning NZ will be losing "objective heavyweight journalism"  – which they say is all to do with the internet making it harder for what they consider to be journalism to do business.

“It’s hard to fund quality journalism these days,” pontificated one. How would he know? When has he, ever?

It's easy to blame the internet for the hollowing out of journalism standards in this country, but thanks in part to these two men and their colleagues, journalism in NZ has been shit for a very long time. And it happened long before the internet.

Perhaps it began when reporters started calling themselves “journalists,” and started interviewing their typewriters more than they did those making the news. Now it has reached the stage when their opinions, to them, have become news events in themselves.

Whatever happened to the ethic of “just the facts, ma’am”? Answer: It was buried under a tidal wave of dumbed-down opinionated crap.

As just one example among many: who could forget Lindsay Perigo’s famous walkout from the TVNZ newsroom at the height of his career there, calling it “braindead” as he left. That was way back last century, darlings. The bar has been sinking very much lower for a very long time indeed.

Now, if we chose to watch the garbage, not only would we have to watch presenters (when we can understand them) presenting each other as news, we would see alleged journalists hunting in packs, reporting science fiction as fact and celebrity non-events & PR puff-pieces as news; we would have to take then seriously when they send babies to report comment on serious world events, they repeat press releases unquestioningly as news, indulge their complete obsession with the trivial, make emotion the story (“anger today as”). And when they report on politics we would have to watch them hunting “scalps” instead of stories, reporting the election race instead of election issues, and their general assumption that the whole country shares (or should share) the same worldview as their small circle of friends.

If we played Drunk Bingo based on inanities broadcast as news, we’d all be permanently under the table.

(And, these days, if we wanted to read Facebook and Twitter updates reported as news, then – well – we’d just read Facebook and Twitter ourselves, wouldn’t we?)

No wonder when the internet did make it possible to escape this dumbed-down mainstream-media ghetto audiences departed in droves.

But it is not the internet making it unnecessary to watch, read or buy this crap. It is those peddling it.

So to hear those who helped mastermind this race to utter irrelevance complain that a merger of media organisations will have “an impact on democracy” is just self-serving cant.

They helped make their profession irrelevant. It would at least be appropriate for them to stop and acknowledge their role.


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