Giovanni Tiso, Russel Brown and the 2 unspoken issues inside NZ Journalism

By   /   August 29, 2016  /   11 Comments

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The arguments are pretty stock standard complaints about the deteriorating quality of journalism and the economic pressures that are confronting journalists. It’s nothing that none of us haven’t been saying for years, and there aren’t any new angles explored, which I think is a missed opportunity.

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Giovanni Tiso and Russel Brown have both had a hack recently at the issues confronting Journalism.

The arguments are pretty stock standard complaints about the deteriorating quality of journalism and the economic pressures that are confronting journalists. It’s nothing that none of us haven’t been saying for years, and there aren’t any new angles explored, which I think is a missed opportunity.

Holding up The Spinoff as a way forward as Brown does in his show is concerning, especially because the Spinoff is a paid content provider for American Culture. I’m not sure what we need right now is more cultural colonialism promoting a mono-culture of unbelievable narcissism and hyper individualism from a wealth bubble 99% can’t attain.

Personally I consider watching the Real Housewives of Auckland as the intellectual equivalence to burning a library.

That said, watching some of the most divisive voices on Twitter calling for solidarity is as amusing as getting a Trolls Troll like Ruminator to be the head of your communications as a political party.

Barking dogs chasing empty cars.

The two unspoken issues inside NZ Journalism that need and require examination for a new way forward are the rose tinted false history  of Journalism we never challenge and the word ideology.

ISSUE 1: NZ Journalism was never particularly great 

The very first editorial in the NZ Herald was calling for white NZers to rise up and fight Maori. This was followed by decades worth of disgusting attacks on women, homosexuals and trade unionists.

Sure we had Brian Edwards for a bit, and more recently John Campbell, but Paul Holmes was a right wing arsehole and being interviewed by Mark Sainsbury on Close Up was like being hugged to death by the family labrador.

There’s some sort of collective amnesia about the way we have all forgotten that every major Journalism outlet was involved in enabling Cameron Slater to do this…

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…it’s like this never happened…

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…we never had strong progressive Journalism. Nicky Hager does it, Jon Stephenson does it, Dita De Boni does it, Andrea Vance does it, The Hui does it, but bugger all anyone else does or has.

Reminiscing about some golden age of Journalism that never existed in NZ and having to put up with the whining of those mainstream media outlets now they’ve finally had their gatekeeping power robbed from them is tedious.

 

ISSUE 2: Ideology

The 30 years of neoliberal myth making has seeped into every facet of our culture and has been fuelled by a media far more interested in promoting free market propaganda than public service broadcasting. Look at the way media in this country have used crime hysteria to manipulate viewers emotion and gain ratings. Despite our murder rates plummeting over the last 50 years, most NZers still believe the country has deteriorated into a mad max post apocalyptic war zone where gang lords plot to destroy the middle classes.

Under this ideology, Maori are bludgers, bludgers are to blame for their own poverty and success is an individual pursuit. The media have played their role in promoting these stereotypes and this myth making without question.

This ideology has seen an explosion of American Cultural imperialism masquerading as entertainment and a fracturing of the media spectrum  so that unity and solidarity become lost to individualism.

 

SOLUTIONS: 

There are solutions however.

1: The amount of money the Unions pour into coms could fund an online TV station and newspaper site all on their own. Instead of a co-ordinated approach, they blow money on pointless and totally ineffectual media.

2: TVNZ needs a total reform and the public spheres of debate need to be re-established, simply putting things up on line and suggesting that’s enough is only helping create the splintering of the media spectrum.

3: Tax Sky a special NZ content tax and put a small levy on all communication devices including TVs to fund public broadcasting.

4: Buy the NZ Herald – and run it via NZ on Air.

 

As someone who puts together a weeknightly current affairs show, I’m far less pessimistic that we can’t find solutions, because there are ways to do public broadcasting. What is missing is the will to do it.

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11 Comments

  1. Jono says:

    “the public spheres of debate need to be re-established, simply putting things up on line and suggesting that’s enough is only helping create the splintering of the media spectrum.” – Isnt that what you do when you disable the comments for Waatea 5th estate on youtube?

  2. Mike in Auckland says:

    Since you linked to Russell’s post on Public Address, one comment by Kevin McCready struck me straight away, and I will quote it here:

    “Guyon “push for answers too soon” ??? FFS. And the idea of gladiatorial entertainment is exactly what’s wrong with journalism today. This is intimately related to the postmodern notion so common in modern media that truth is relative. And then we get “as an interviewer you’re looking for a reaction”. No. As an interviewer you are looking to find the truth. You guys have forgotten that it’s about finding and reporting truth. Don’t make the postmodernist Gower the Clown error where he says he’s too busy to find the truth so just provides entertainment and tries to be tough on “both sides”. I’ve spoken to “journalists” in the last week who still believe in the “two sides” crap. And let’s please not forget it’s not about you, it’s about teamwork. You can’t “dig deep enough” all by yourself.
    http://pantograph-punch.com/asking-the-right-questions-patrick-gower
    And why not the old “You’re refusing to answer, so let’s stop it there.””

    I must agree with that comment and assessment, and yes, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM, it is NOT that difficult, Nicky Hager has done it, Jon Stephenson has done it, others have done it.

    We have too many clowns in the media, self focused narcissists, like in society as a whole, formed by neoliberalism and resulting in over-indulgence in “self love” and selfishness and following the ruthless competitive instincts.

    So the truth is not so relevant anymore, it is too much focus on presentation, on excitement, on stirring up emotions and adrenalin, and we get more “truthiness” or stuff like that, that only serves the status quo the government and even some in opposition are quite happy with.

    I ask, who are the media persons working in the MSM, who are the commentators in the crisis in the media, who is paying them, how do they make their living, that may reveal how compromised they are. Some must wear a Coca Cola, Pepsi, or KFC sticker on their clothes, or have shareholders pull their puppet strings, or have a whole fist fill them from inside, as a hand a sock puppet.

    We can have endless information shared on forums like this, by many independent individuals, who simply could write and present stories based on facts, that they have learned about and got reliable info about, it does not take rocket science or a purse full of money to pay for everything, apart from internet access, and of course running the forum, which admittedly costs something.

    But I see some unions advertise here. The question must be asked, yes, why can the unions not run an own radio or TV station with also online website and streaming?

    I also think we need proper public broadcasting, and it is a scandal that RNZ has capped funding and is forced to run at rather low budget. TVNZ must be restored to be a proper broadcaster, I would even be prepared to pay a humble broadcasting fee again, should that be necessary.

    Sadly the public trend is going towards ever more individualised madness, dumbing down idiocy, infotainment and all kinds of entertainment 24/7, rather than actually stay informed on stuff that matters and affects us all somehow. Consumerism is the result of endless conditioning and brainwashing, and it divides societies, not just New Zealand.

    We cannot compare the old “media” or “journalism” from last century or even over a hundred 20 or more years ago with what we have today.

    And once we had only one or two TV stations nationwide, so some consolidation may not mean the end of media and journalism, the concern is about who owns it and runs it.

  3. lloyd says:

    Numbers of murders have increased dramatically in New Zealand. In the 1950s a total of 95 people were murdered – an annual average of 9.5. In the 1970s the total number of murders rose to 281 – almost three times as many as in the 1950s. In the 1980s and 1990s there were over 500 murders per decade. While the total number of murders dropped slightly in the first decade of the 21st century, an average of 54.6 people were murdered each year. New Zealand’s population grew from 1.9 million in 1950 to 4.36 million in 2009, but this does not explain why murders increased fivefold.

    • At a guess, Lloyd, if murders leapt to 500 per decade, I’m thinking that the upheaval caused by the Neo-Liberal revolution, with job losses; imports of cheap consumer goods forcing local manufacturers out of business; closure of local services; reduced access to health services and on-going support; greater availability of alcohol; an emphasis on Individualism and financial success – all contribute to growing social and family stresses…

      Margaret Thatcher once remarked that there is no such thing as “society”, only the individual and family. If people owe no allegiance to any sense of community, then respect for others is no longer considered a social norm.

      It becomes a Me First attitude and woe betide anyone getting in my way.

  4. phillip ure says:

    what we are seeing at the moment is a generational-changeover of the acceptable gatekeepers..

    and a castle parable can be used as illustration..

    ..we had the old-media gatekeepers firmly in control of the castle – and the yowling mob outside was never even heard – let alone their opinions/thoughts taken into consideration..

    the first crack in that castle-wall came with the allowing of comments in the likes of the herald..

    ..at first this was censored/’moderated’ to an extraordinary degree – with only agreeing voices allowed to be published..

    ..this then loosened to the degree that f*ckwits like rodney hide could post his weekly pile of gob – and you would read him just to get some context to the comments-thread in which he was ruthlessly monstered..

    (and to me this was the strength of the late/lamented ability to comment on herald stories..hide now gets to publish his crap – unquestioned – so of course no more need to read him..)..but more on comments later..

    so outside the wall with the yowling mobs were the new/wannabe-generation of acceptable-gatekeepers – waving their arms in the air and going ‘me!’..’me!’..’i won’t rock the boat!’

    and a big part of their schtick at the time was ‘freedom of speech’/let the people be heard!’ etc..etc..

    ..so..time has taken its’ toll on that older generation of acceptable gatekeepers – that and publishing changes have meant that the new generation of acceptable gatekeepers are now inside/have taken over the citadel..

    and guess what they have done..?….they have gone ‘quick! quick! pull up the drawbridge! – shut out/close down that yowling mob!..they are just trolls!’..

    and this is what they have done..

    and they learnt well from that initial mistake made by the old acceptable-gatekeepers – how they allowed comments to be published…

    ..this new generation of acceptable-gatekeepers will have none of that..

    ..in their taken-over citadel of the herald – and in their herald/corporate spinoff (accurately-named) spinoff..

    ..they will allow no dissenting voices – those new acceptable gatekeepers can now publish whatever sponsered-material pandering to crap they like..

    ..and nary a dissenting comment will be allowed..

    ..fuck them…!

    ..meet the new acceptable-gatekeepers…as it turns out – even worse than the old acceptable-gatekeepers..

    ..and funny story – they sling the bullshit that they are doing this to protect the readers from ‘trolls’…and those tewwible tewwible things they can say…

    ..the likes of david slack appearing on breakfast television pushing this crap almost had me puking…at his cynical sincerities/frettings

    ..and he/they must think we are all as dumb as a sack of fucken doorknobs..

    ..that we don’t all know that closing off comments/dissenting voices is just rolling back the clock to a previous/worse area..

    like i said…fuck them..!

  5. esoteric pineapples says:

    “Paul Holmes was a right wing arsehole” – so true. The only time I liked him was when he went to Yemen on the Intrepid Journeys tv series. But he did reflect the “mainstream” who like to think they are like Sir Edmund Hillary but are pretty much like John Key.

  6. CLEANGREEN says:

    There’s some sort of collective amnesia about the way we have all forgotten that every major Journalism outlet was involved in enabling Cameron Slater to do this…
    Yes Martyn you are right to re-engage this evil doer stuff again with a “fresh pair of eyes” again as the media had just buried all this “dirty politics agenda as if it never existed!!!!!!

    I for one, now again see it through re-engaged eyes, now that we know who the players are and where the navel gazing media is now, simply just as an ineffective docile gatekeeper of un-trusted dis-honest lap-watchdog journalism only serving the rich & corrupted.

    Like I keep saying, we need to have all opposition parties to place an injunction in the court now to take back half the TVNZX/RNZ in the public interest to give the other half of the voting nation a free press to counter this corrupt media machinery that spits out vile propaganda each and every day that is destroying this once proud honest nation that is becoming the most corrupt country in the world now.

    Damn those deceitful dishonest media junketeer so called journo’s they bring us all a bad name the selllouts!!!!.

  7. Jason Brown says:

    . . .

    Solutions?

    Only two I spotted here, the first in the article itself:

    “The amount of money the Unions pour into coms could fund an online TV station and newspaper site all on their own. Instead of a co-ordinated approach, they blow money on pointless and totally ineffectual media.”

    Bloody good idea.

    This also stands true for NGOs and other non-profits that are full of endless advice about what journalists “should” be doing, rather than identifying what journalism “could” be doing.

    What could journalism be doing?

    Not much more than it already is, under corporately-correct notions of ratings, clicks and advertising. Otherwise known as a “business model” that is the source of journalism’s problems, rather than any kind of solution.

    NGOs attract billions in cash and kind resources each year, and spend millions on communications. Why not pool those resources and invest them in independent, investigative journalism, as suggested?

    The second solution spotted comes from CleanGreen, thus:

    “Like I keep saying, we need to have all opposition parties to place an injunction in the court now to take back half the TVNZX/RNZ in the public interest …”

    Trouble with appealing to political parties is that both Labour and National have an historic and ongoing attitude of utter hostility towards the media, both public and private.

    A solution of my own would be that news organisations regain some crediblity by reinforcing firewalls between newsrooms and adrooms, and the management level.

    Gavin Ellis has written extensively about trust models that could work for new organisations – why not old organisations as well? Under such a model, the New Zealand Herald newsroom, for example, could operate under a charter of editorial independence.

    This could be supported via a click-based public subsidy (gasp), establishing balance between public and private interests. Yes, a kind of Public Private Partnership (gasp).

    Any other solutions?

    . . .

  8. Jason Brown says:

    . . .

    Solutions?

    Only two I spotted here, the first in the article itself:

    “The amount of money the Unions pour into coms could fund an online TV station and newspaper site all on their own. Instead of a co-ordinated approach, they blow money on pointless and totally ineffectual media.”

    Bloody good idea.

    This also stands true for NGOs and other non-profits that are full of endless advice about what journalists “should” be doing, rather than identifying what journalism “could” be doing.

    What could journalism be doing?

    Not much more than it already is, under corporately-correct notions of ratings, clicks and advertising. Otherwise known as a “business model” that is the source of journalism’s problems, rather than any kind of solution.

    NGOs attract billions in cash and kind resources each year, and spend millions on communications. Why not pool those resources and invest them in independent, investigative journalism, as suggested?

    The second solution spotted comes from CleanGreen, thus:

    “Like I keep saying, we need to have all opposition parties to place an injunction in the court now to take back half the TVNZX/RNZ in the public interest …”

    Trouble with appealing to political parties is that both Labour and National have an historic and ongoing attitude of utter hostility towards the media, both public and private.

    A solution of my own would be that news organisations regain some crediblity by reinforcing firewalls between newsrooms and adrooms, and the management level.

    Gavin Ellis has written extensively about trust models that could work for new organisations – why not old organisations as well? Under such a model, the New Zealand Herald newsroom, for example, could operate under a charter of editorial independence.

    This could be supported via a click-based public subsidy (gasp), establishing balance between public and private interests. Yes, a kind of Public Private Partnership (gasp).

    Any other solutions?

    . . .

    • Gavin Ellis says:

      I don’t rule out existing organizations moving to trustee ownership. Indeed I would welcome it. However, as I point out in “Trust Ownership and the Future of News”, shareholders in public listed companies are not known for their philanthropy. Many of them would see an offer by a trust as one last chance to extract some value from their investments. In other words, they would probably want more money than a trust could afford or be willing to pay. Nevertheless, there is nothing in the trust model that rules out trust ownership of traditional mainstream media organization. All you need to do now is to persuade NZME shareholders, in a display of commendable charity, to hand their shares to a trust.

  9. PB says:

    God article.

    Real progressives gotta unify and create a fighting fund, like you say. Artists, unions, NGOs… create the movement, let the parliamentary form follow.


 
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