Sunday, 10 October 2010

just report the news

i have a couple of posts up at the hand mirror. unfortunately i couldn't contain my exuberance at news of the resignation of the broadcaster who shall not be named. hardly dignified on my part and i'm not normally one to rejoice at the misfortune of others, but there are some actions that should have consequences. this was one of them, and long overdue as far as i'm concerned.

it's been a fantastic weekend, not only because of the above news but also because of the very excellent local body election results this weekend. very happy to see len brown and a leftie council elected for the supercity in auckland. glad to see a leftward swing across the country really, which means that people do realise there is more to life than tax cuts (or rates cuts in this case).

i've put up a more detailed
post of my thoughts on the results in hamilton at the hand mirror. i'd just like to expand a little on one theme: the influence of the waikato times on the election results. it's not healthy. as far as i'm concerned, the media is there to report the news, not to create it or influence. i can understand a paper taking an editorial stance on certain issues, but that stance should stay firmly on the opinion page & it shouldn't be used to promote or demote candidates.

unfortunately the times has a tendency to use the power of the press in a way that, to my mind, is clearly wrong. the paper basically campaigned against the vote to change the city council voting system to STV; they had a huge impact on the mayoral race between michael redman & martin elliot; and i believe the way they reported had a significant impact on the demise of bob simcock.

now don't get me wrong, i'm happy that mr simcock is no longer our mayor. but i still believe that unbiased reporting is crucial for democracy to function correctly. really, we don't need assessments of the candidates' appearance & fashion sense, we don't need them rated out of 10 by times reporters. what we need is straight reporting on what they had to say on key policy issues. we're perfectly capable of making up our own minds as to which position we'd like to support. and if we wanted to make judgements about appearance, we'd turn up at candidates meetings and do so for ourselves.

so a big thumbs down to the times for this kind of coverage. stay out of the campaign & let the people decide.


Anonymous said...

I'm not sure I agree. I want to see newspapers condemning politicians when they do something wrong, not just dryly reporting the facts.

My problem is actually that reporters spend too much time reporting the facts and not enough time commenting on the moral dimensions of those facts.

It's the "just report the facts" mentality that means the news media has done nothing to condemn the benefit cuts under this government.

stargazer said...

i've been thinking about this for a while. the problem with moral dimensions is that they will have a particular slant. it's ok if that slant is on your side of the argument, but if it isn't? take climate change for example. i'd rather not have someone for whom the moral argument is that we should do nothing because it isn't happening. i'd rather they reported on the science, and let us make up our minds.

giving opinions is fine if it's on the opinion page. but even then, when i was involved in pushing for a more democratic & fair voting system, it didn't help to have the times giving a one-sided slant in their opinion pages either.

even with the most in-depth investigative reporting that uncovers corruption or some such, just tell us what you found. we can work out from there how bad it is and what we think about it.

Anonymous said...

I disagree Stargazer

To use your climate change example we need the media to make a strong case for the moral imperative to save our children's future! How can we expect anything less? Who is harmed by the media calling on people to do what is moral and right? We shouldn't subscribe to the fiction that there are two reasonable and equally valid responses to climate change when one is the path of the future and the other is the path of greed, death or at best stupidity. If the media implies that there is not a moral imperative to act against climate change, it is lying.

The same is true of child abuse, abortion, etc etc.

stargazer said...

anon, i can see what you're trying to say. but the danger of the type of approach you're advocating, well it's what leads to fox news. i'd much prefer a media outlet that gave me the facts than one that presents the "news" the way that fox does. in an ideal world, what you are advocating for would be what we get, but unfortunately we don't live in that ideal world.