How good was Newsroom’s journalism?

There is no doubt that Newsroom journalist Melanie Reid extensively investigated the Todd Barclay story that hit the headlines all through yesterday. It has been hailed by many as great journalism, and to an extent that is fair praise.

But I want to raise questions about how the story was published that other media probably won’t say anything about.

The publishing of the story – actually multiple stories – looks like a carefully orchestrated hit.

It will have taken some time to investigate and write up.

It was likely to that they deliberate broke the story on a Tuesday morning, the first day of the week that Parliament sits. Fair enough, they have to decide some time to publish, and that’s when MPs are usually readily available for responses.

They didn’t just publish the whole story. They published the first hit at about 8 am. They held back more details until later in the day. Why? Good journalism? To maximise publicity and website hits? I guess that’s part of the media game these days.

They published two follow up stories late in the afternoon. Why hold those back?

They have promised another story today.  Last night Tim Murphy at Newsroom promised more via Twitter: “There’s at least one more lie to come in the morning.  “.

Is the drip feeding of a story good journalism, or is it trying to catch MPs out in not telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth?

I’ve seen activists describe these tactics for political hit jobs – hold back details in the hope that their targets will compromise themselves.

It is often said (and I saw it yesterday) that it’s not the political ‘crime’ that does the damage, it’s the way it is dealt with by the targets. (Update: Andrew Little was just quoted on RNZ saying this).

The aim is to stir things up with a story and then hope that the target compromises themselves further by lying or reacting badly to try and cover up or minimise their exposure.

Is it good journalism to play this game?

Or, once they have done their good journalistic investigating shouldn’t they just come out with everything they have?

I may have it wrong, but I got the feeling yesterday that Newsroom were not just reporting what they had discovered, they were trying to maximise the impact on the targets of their story.

I got the feeling that they had a dagger blow, but were stabbing for maximum political blood, not just reporting.

The lines can be very blurred between political activism and media.

Most journalists and opponents of the Government will applaud yesterday’s stories as a well researched, well planned and well executed hit.

The media  can be very powerful. They can influence major political outcomes (like US presidential elections and referendums on major changes to the European Union).

Newsroom’s stories will make some difference in our election this year. They could quite feasibly be a significant factor in changing our Government.

Should we just accept that media are as much a part of the political game playing as anyone?

 

Leave a comment

32 Comments

  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  June 21, 2017

    The media are definitely political players, not reporters. That of course is why they have lost trust. The public realise this and respond accordingly.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  June 21, 2017

      Bastards, Al.
      I got some popcorn in tho.

      Reply
    • Mefrostate

       /  June 21, 2017

      Too many people throwing mud at “the media” in general, which is dangerous as politicians will happily jump in as a way to help undermine the fourth estate.

      The credibility of individuals and the organisations they work for should be based on their specific track-record.

      Reply
    • Blazer

       /  June 21, 2017

      and what about the..Police….who are they meant to serve….and who do they actually…serve?

      Reply
  2. Gezza

     /  June 21, 2017

    Should we just accept that media are as much a part of the political game playing as anyone?

    Um … It’s a good question, but actually a blimmin tuff one.
    On balance, I guess – Yes.

    Though there are some sensationalised stories that some insensitive, &, I think, immoral media exploit for their own attention-seeking purposes that go against all my ingrained sense of fairness & decency. The Pike River “men in there with robots” story was one.

    It’s hard to know where to draw a line. I do want to know when members of government get caught out lying to me.

    Reply
    • Yes the public should be informed if MPs are caught out lying – and today’s allegation is of another lie.

      https://yournz.org/2017/06/21/todd-barclay-strike-4/

      How it is reported and the apparent aims of the way it is reported is what I question. And there’s no easy answer.

      Reply
      • Anonymous Coward

         /  June 21, 2017

        As it is a rather complex issue there would be a risk that, in releasing the whole story at once, only the main point would be debated and Barclay would be off the hook for the rest. By spacing out the points it allows them all to be analysed individually, and makes a complex story easier to digest.

        Reply
        • PDB

           /  June 21, 2017

          Sounds a good theory AC but it is obviously being released in bits to entrap the major players of the story.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  June 21, 2017

            Is giving them opportunities to tell more lies really entrapment?
            Or an exam?

            Reply
            • PDB

               /  June 21, 2017

              Not necessarily lies – it just means having to put out many smaller fires rather than deal with one big one. Also extends the life of the story.

            • Gezza

               /  June 21, 2017

              Oh well. If it’s pack ya bags time for the Todsta, not to worry.

              Plenty more where & Aaron & Todd came from by the look of it.

  3. Tipene

     /  June 21, 2017

    Melanie Reid is a first class journalist from the old school, where you did the hard investigative yards first, sought all possible sources to ensure balance, so that when you went live, your story could withstand scrutiny.

    So much better than the “interview the keyboard” click-bait sensation-seekers of now, who wouldn’t know the meaning of balanced reporting, even with the aid of a spirit level.

    The proof of the pudding will again be in the eating -if what Melanie Reid says about what Barclay is claimed to have done is accurate, and as a result, the proper recourse for barclay is to resign as an MP – then job done.

    Reply
    • If Bill English also resigns, is that simply job done too?

      If National’s support crashes, is that simply job done too?

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  June 21, 2017

        Integrity, Pete.
        If they don’t have it, do we want them running our country?

        Reply
  4. Tipene

     /  June 21, 2017

    No, those outcomes would simply be the law of natural consequence in action – a snowball effect, if you will, but not the initial and / or overall intent of the news piece about Barclay.

    Reid is an equal opportunity investigative journalist – give her an opportunity to nail you – and she will, regardless of political or ideological bent.

    Reply
  5. Blazer

     /  June 21, 2017

    You both asked and answered your own questions.Journalism is impartial.

    Reply
  6. It’s all about their brand. Good on them, I have no trouble with that at all. It was great research and an excellent hit. I will have trouble of they fail to examine the left. Time will tell

    Reply
  7. duperez

     /  June 21, 2017

    Ethereal and whimsical notions of ethics waft around ‘journalism’ as if some sort of implicit gold standard of altruism should abound around that human activity.

    The baby is long gone with the bath water. Getting the baby back, getting new pure water when we think there is a need, is at once doomed and ironic.

    Good journalism is journalism which sees those involved making a good living or getting what they want out of life.

    Reply
  8. artcroft

     /  June 21, 2017

    I don’t mind seeing English under the pump for this. Is he up to the job? Can he reassure NZ all is well despite these inevitable flair ups. Sir John certainly had that ability. Does Bill?

    Reply
    • Tipene

       /  June 21, 2017

      Bill didn’t in 2002 – Bill doesn’t in 2017.

      Reply
      • artcroft

         /  June 21, 2017

        Point taken.

        Reply
      • PDB

         /  June 21, 2017

        The National party is a much stronger beast today compared to the 2002 version – Bill has reinvented himself as a solid economic manager since then – comparing apples to oranges.

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  June 21, 2017

          ‘reinvented himself’…really …sounds like an authentic,trustworthy candidate!Bol.

          Reply
    • duperez

       /  June 21, 2017

      He’s up to the job of being Prime Minister of this country. He’s demonstably not up to the job of being honest. The two things though are mutually exclusive.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  June 21, 2017

        The Padre will be expecting to see him @ the Confessional this weekend, I expect.
        Whaddya reckon, PK?

        Reply
        • patupaiarehe

           /  June 21, 2017

          Reply
          • Blazer

             /  June 21, 2017

            I think its spaghetti..on the pizza.

            Reply
            • patupaiarehe

               /  June 21, 2017

              I thought it was both Blazer, but TBH I didn’t read the article.

            • Gezza

               /  June 21, 2017

              Get out of the bloody Confession Box, Blazer !

              Christ man !

              Is there nothing bloody sacred with you ! 😡

  9. Well done, if the medias role is to hold poiliticians to account, then letting them lie a little bit more to show their true colors before roasting them is excellent. Also, Media needs clicks/revenue!! which likely was a factor in stringing it out.

    Reply
  10. No problems with a drip feed its how the journo would have got the info from the informer…. and who was that? And what party do they now work for? And that partys leader is known for what? Veracity or how to run a hit/smear/scandal? And then we have Tipene appearing running down English – where have we heard that before?

    its all fun for sure…

    Reply
  1. How good was Newsroom’s journalism? — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s