Media has a responsibility to be balanced

This shouldn’t need to be said, and if it is seen it is likely to be ignored, but the media have a responsibility to be balanced in their coverage of politics, especially in an election campaign.

A month or so ago we had media overkill of Todd Barclay’s political career. It was a story that deserved some coverage, but it became more of a hounding than reporting, and still pops up occasionally.

Last week has been extraordinary. The media obsession with promoting Jacinda Ardern was possibly without precedent. It’s hard to imagine a greater concentration of coverage if they had discovered that Princess Diana’s death had been faked and she had been living anonymously in Morrinsville.

The change of Labour leadership was a very big story. The rise of Jacinda Ardern was a phenomenon, but the glittering saturation coverage was excessive, and democratically unbalanced and unfair

The media plays an important role in a democracy, an essential role. A problem with modern media is that it has become a means of exerting and influencing power.

Politicians and parties have recruited a lot of journalists, and they obviously know how to play the game. They also have good contacts in media.

Switching from journalism to political PR seems to have significant financial benefits for the best of them, with probably only the TV and radio ‘personality’ journalists on more lucrative salaries.

Politicians cultivate their own relationships with journalists. It is something Ardern has been adept at, she has milked a lot of coverage in the past, but has been careful not to upstage her leader.

And that paid off last week with journalists flocking to Ardern. She was smattered all through newspapers. She appeared on just about every TV program that wasn’t ‘reality TV’ or Coronation Street – she would probably have been on Shortland Street if there wasn’t a lead time to their content.

The coverage of all other politicians and parties combined would have been less than the attention Ardern got. We have had an outpouring of overkill.

But we have had what we have had, and now Ardern is an obvious media favourite to at least feature prominently in the election campaign.

I think it’s too much to ask but the media have a responsibility to be objective and to provide balanced coverage.

They have already shown their bias against Bill English, with it being common to report on his lack of ‘charisma’ – he is too boring for their headlines and click baiting.

He is so old hat that journalists have almost lusted over a younger fresher alternative.

Winston Peters has long been given favourable coverage and inadequate scrutiny from media, but even he was virtually ignored. Who knows what a shunned Winston will do now to try to attract attention.

The media have switched from their obsession with ‘king maker’ to building a throne for their anointed queen.

It hasn’t been all adulation, there has been some reasonable coverage, but the overwhelming impression has been that media has had a clear favourite, and balance went out the window with Andrew Little.

The media euphoria over the rise of Ardern will subside a bit, but there is a real risk of ongoing lack of balance.

The future of the country is at stake and voters should be given fair and balanced coverage. I’m not confident we will get that.

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60 Comments

  1. Blazer

     /  August 7, 2017

    After their fawning over Key and hatchet job on Cunnliffe. ..it is. ..balance. Not forgetting the cheerleaders for Govt. .like. .Hosting.

    Reply
    • I never saw fawning over Key – quite the opposite, but hey, you make it up as you go along

      Reply
      • Patzcuaro

         /  August 7, 2017

        During Key’s first term as PM when he had novelty value the media used to eat out of his hand. I think after the cup of tea with Banks and Key’s overreaction to being recorded, his honeymoon with the media ended.

        Both Key and Ardern have a natural ease with the media. As time passes the media will become more critical of Ardern as well, especially once she s PM.

        Reply
        • PDB

           /  August 7, 2017

          Ardern? Old news……..

          Stuff: “I’m thinking Chloe Swarbrick. With her hipster/preppie dress style, Auckland mayoral race cred and straightforward way of drilling down to the heart of the matter, she is the new Infant Phenomenon in waiting.”

          Sounds perfectly qualified to run a country with a hipster dress style being the clincher…..

          Reply
          • Blazer

             /  August 7, 2017

            Maybe a $950 pair of steel cap boots to complete the. ..’look’.

            Reply
      • Blazer

         /  August 7, 2017

        You see, what you want to see…and with only one eye. ..I realize it’s. ..not easy.

        Reply
    • High Flying Duck

       /  August 7, 2017

      Cunliffe did a number on himself. He was a caricature of a leader who completely changed his message when talking to different audiences and it showed him up as false.

      Media coverage of Key was sometimes over the top – but more negative than positive in my opinion and the coverage followed the polls, it didn’t try to lead them.

      Jacinda is getting giggling fan-girl coverage from people who are supposed to be professionals.

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  August 7, 2017

        Key did a pretty good impression of a. .chameleon.

        Reply
        • High Flying Duck

           /  August 7, 2017

          There’s a fine line between being an intransigent ideologue and a pragmatist who listens to the people.
          He seemed to know the public mood very well and reacted to it while slowly furthering the National agenda.
          I think it is what is required in MMP politics.

          Reply
          • Patzcuaro

             /  August 7, 2017

            Key was a currency trader, the trend is your friend in that game. He was little different in politics, he used polling to see where voters wanted to go and then went there. He was very good at both.

            Reply
            • High Flying Duck

               /  August 7, 2017

              And yet he also did many things that the polls showed were deeply unpopular. And the party’s poll ratings rose having done them.
              That is the sign of a leader more than a populist.

        • PDB

           /  August 7, 2017

          Ardern is a finely crafted MSM image based primarily on relative youth and so-called ‘looks – Key did his own thing and at times he was punished for it. Ardern is pure fantasy, Key was real – sometimes too real for some.

          Reply
          • Blazer

             /  August 7, 2017

            Branching out into satire these days. .PDB..’Key..was. .real ‘.

            Reply
          • Patzcuaro

             /  August 7, 2017

            You are not going to get elected in this age unless you have a finely crafted MSM image. Both Key and Ardern seem to have the knack of appealing to voters, they are front people, the face of the party. As Labour has found out you don’t get elected without it.

            Reply
      • Indeed HFD – remember this one?

        Reply
        • High Flying Duck

           /  August 7, 2017

          Aaah yes, it’s right up there on the highlights reel with his sincere apology for being a man.
          The Cunliffe era – good times.

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  August 7, 2017

            If the rest of us change our mnds upon consideration, that’s all right-but a politician who does this is likely to be accused of flip-flopping !

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  August 7, 2017

              Pete, do you remember when Lord Lucan was found living-not in Morrinsville, but somewhere like that, a rural area, anyway ?

              The poor man was besieged after his neighbour discovered this and broadcast it. The only flaws were that he was the wrong age, the wrong height and one or two other minor anomalies which did not, of course, convince Mrs Nosey-Parker from next door.

  2. Good call Pete although I fear you might be wasting your breath.

    It’s irrefutable proof of the profound media political bias, an unbalanced mass hysteria and the pathetic little bubble they exist in. They’ll do anything to promote themselves and an “interesting” election. It’s not dissimilar to their hysterical response to the BS that was Hager and Dotcom’s Dirty Politics. .

    Reply
    • I’m fairly sure I’m wasting my time as far as influencing the media goes. I’m very much on the outside, viewed with disdain by the old school media and by proper journalists.

      Reply
      • Anne Glen Eden

         /  August 7, 2017

        I wouldn’t take any of it personally. What’s a ‘proper’ journalist? Very few of them these days are worthy of the title, certainly not the sycophants fawning over Ardern.

        As if being smiley, ‘energetic’, or ‘positive’ is any qualification for being an effective MP let alone PM. She’s just the poster girl for activist liberal politics which is primarily what comprises the media these days. They long ago decided that they should, in reality, run the country. But while they continue to fervently attempt to socially engineer the public, they have been fighting a losing battle with the majority – and it’s grown. That’s why Labour is in the mess it is.

        Labour was in power for roughly half the time since 1984 when it In ‘privatised state assets and reduced the role of the state in the economy.’ Clarke is the person who introduced health charges into NZ, which undoubtedly impacted mostly on the poor and on women, children, and the aged. They had a reasonable go at beneficiaries as well. They certainly did not reduce the numbers or deprivation of the poor – or the difficulties of youth – and rampantly promoted immigration and free trade producing cheap wages. Their only claim to any ‘rights’ is promoting the gay lobby and forcing women into employment – either formally, by peer pressure, or sheer deprivation. What they are very excellent at is producing marketing spin, which they have elevated to artistic mastery.

        Globalist liberals generally, and the Left specifically, have worked on the general population being turned into feudal serfs who are told to keep working and vote how they’re told, their views are not relevant and not only don’t have to be ‘represented’ by their MPs, they should definitely not be considered, in favour of MPs ‘consciences’ – which are specifically not subject to or swayed by the ‘tyranny of the majority’.

        Women are told they have ‘choice’ – actually they’re told that they should decide or not to have children, preferably all on their own – if they don’t avoid them by taking the right drugs or abort them, they should keep working up until birth, and like peasant women in the fields, put their children aside after birth and go back to work – or just drag them along with them provide breastfeeding and care in public – especially if it’s Parliament. Many worked for generations to alleviate such burden in ‘civilised’ societies. The liberal marketing machine has turned it back into a virtue – women supposedly have a ‘right’ to it.

        Meh. It’s all a marketed crock, currently led by the ‘cheery’ and ‘energetic’ Ardern. Although she’s been clear that her first preference is either work or motherhood – the MSM are working on that, her partner’s role being painted as nothing more than a sperm donor in her decision. But still she’s ‘in it for a good time; not a long time’. Most women in this society don’t have that level of privilege – or defraud society like Turei.

        Reply
    • Patzcuaro

       /  August 7, 2017

      Two things, everybody lives in their own echo chamber these days, you can find a news site that aligns with your views and that is all you hear and the other people in the echo chamber don’t what to hear anything but similar minded people. I think Pete is acquainted with this when he visits the Standard.
      Secondly the print media has lost a source of revenue as less people pay for it as you can get it free online. As a result they can’t afford to carry serious journalism as they chase the advertising dollar.

      Reply
  3. Government will always get more negative headlines. They are actually do stuff, making policy, opening new infrastructure, leading and hardest of all making financial allocation decisions – so its inevitable they cop more negatives.

    But the Jacindrella Story is so gushy its like Womans Day has taken over – Paddy Gower needs to attend a makeover if he wants to keep his job though, as Womans Day have standards regarding appearance…..

    English is dull – compared to Key. But he has steered the ship well for nine years since inheriting Cullens poisoned pills of structural government deficits till the end of time.

    Jacindrella has done what? Been a policy person while on her OE and worked for the Labour Party. And the icing on the cake is being in parliament and looking out of her depth. We do know she is good at plotting – Little was removed in very clean fashion. Its either good at plotting or good at dancing to others music as a puppet on a string. Wonder who has the controls….

    Any journos going to ask about when she was told she would be PM for certain? Anyone going to ask her why she took the top job after saying she supported ANdy and didn’t want the leadership – and follow up with “my colleagues asked and I couldn’t refuse” is bs why did you really do it?

    Little was kneecapped – Rongotai taken away, feed bs by his machine [who was feeding the bogus polling to caucus?], subtley undermined with his media training…..

    The last 2 weeks of this campaign is going to be nasty – Jacindrellas weaknesses will be exploited and I wouldn’t be surprised to see her resort to tears and outrage a number of times when the heat comes on. Helen she is not….

    Reply
    • Brown

       /  August 7, 2017

      I don’t think we are seeing Jacinda plotting at all. I think we are seeing Clark pulling strings.

      Reply
    • Blazer

       /  August 7, 2017

      What rot. .Dave.English congratulated Cullen on the state of the ‘books ‘.

      Reply
      • High Flying Duck

         /  August 7, 2017

        “Helen Clark’s staff have been spinning that there will be major new spending announcements for the election, while Michael Cullen’s crowing about how he has spent the lot and the cupboard is bare. They can’t both be right,” Mr English said – Sept 08.

        Reply
      • PDB

         /  August 7, 2017

        The ‘books’ were in good order but what was written in them was horror novel material.

        Reply
      • chrism56

         /  August 7, 2017

        I see you are still lying, Blazer, like you did yesterday. Please reference where Bill English said that.

        Reply
      • What.rot. BOL….. Treasury projected unending deficits when National took over….. so any “congratulating” seems tenuous….

        Reply
  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  August 7, 2017

    The media audience has shrunk and changed and they now operate in their own echo chambers. Probably much of it now has little interest in politics and those that do are overwhelmingly Lefties as are the journalists themselves.

    Your post is right on target, PG, but I don’t expect any improvement any time soon.

    Reply
    • High Flying Duck

       /  August 7, 2017

      You’re right Al – there is a frightening level of group-think in the media these days. Even though Stuff-Me didn’t get the green light, the nature of coverage has still converged into a homogenous ‘Twitter approved’ view to be disseminated to the masses.
      NBR is the only outlet I can think of that is out of lockstep with the MSM and provides a good variety of viewpoints and proper analytical coverage.

      Reply
  5. sorethumb

     /  August 7, 2017

    I’m thinking instead of an Upper house we need a principled judiciary (?) to monitor the media. Analysing media bias takes resources, but who is going to do it? It is good enough to have a Race Relations Office?? Having said that the BSA are all progressive liberals – may as well have Paul Spoonley on it.

    Reply
  6. sorethumb

     /  August 7, 2017

    Back at the time of the Samoan tsunami Winston warned of “a tsunami of migrants”. Mary Wilson asked a correspondent “should we even be reporting him”
    …….

    In summary, the decade can be divided into two parts. The first is dominated by a moral panic about immigration, specifically from Asia, which was reflected in media reporting. The politicisation and problematisation of Asian migration was mirrored in the print media. After 1997, and certainly since 2000, opinion and feature writers adopted a very different approach, prompted in part by a major downturn in Asian immigration and a greater appreciation of at least the economic benefits of immigration but also as a result of a growing awareness amongst journalists that they had a role to play in explaining (positively) the complex issues of immigration.
    http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07256860903213638?src=recsys&journalCode=cjis20
    This is a Distinguished Professor arguing for a positive spin. Spin first; objectivity second.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  August 7, 2017

      The old Yellow Peril neurosis will be hard to kill, alas.

      Reply
  7. High Flying Duck

     /  August 7, 2017

    It was tagged as satire, but to me it sounds a little more tame than the serious articles on our Jacinda:

    “As the oracles of radio, television and print raised their voices in unison, the collective wisdom of their pronouncements gathered an overwhelming power. These hardened cynics, once world-weary chroniclers of sadness and incredulity, can see the world anew again.

    And what of the little people? Has Jacinda’s aura of hope and optimism washed over the depressed and brutalised masses? The signs are there.

    I use a social media platform called Twitter. Using this service gives me an unparalleled insight into the minds and hearts of the New Zealand electorate. The positive vibrations emanating from my Twitter app make plain that public life is on the verge of a new spiritual plane.

    Even so, I must confess some residual doubts. That is to be expected, perhaps. After all, even the Apostle Thomas had difficulty believing that the resurrected Christ had appeared before the 10 apostles. When you have been downtrodden and oppressed as long as this country has been, the prospect of dashed hopes can seem more painful than the dull melancholy of resignation and acceptance.

    And even as you read this, the forces of darkness plot the corruption of our chaste ecstasy. From their baroque mansions and towering offices, the slithering snakes and croaking toads of neo-liberalism are conniving to poison our newfound hope and optimism.

    We know what these agents of apathy will do. They will try to drag Jacinda down to their level. Like the Pharisees of old, they will try to force her to play by their unenlightened rules. They will demand that she debase her soaring vision with mundane questions about the mechanics of government and governing.

    They will try to distract us from her crown of stars by questioning her as if she were an ordinary politician, rather than a great leader fated by providence to turn the tide of history against the Government’s proposed adjustments to marginal income tax rates.

    They will try to sound reasonable. They will claim that we should reserve judgment for the time being. They will damn Jacinda with faint praise by saying that she is a talented and charismatic politician while undermining this wonderful moment by counselling a wait-and-see approach.

    But we must steel ourselves against their wiles. We must not listen. These wonderful moments are too rare to allow them to be ruined by questioners and sceptics.

    Have faith! Goodness prevails over evil, just as the dark of night must yield to the break of day. As the glow of Jacinda’s flame grows, it will illuminate the path ahead for the whole of New Zealand.

    And who knows how far beyond?”

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/opinion/95504905/a-ray-of-sunshine-penetrates-the-smog-as-jacinda-ardern-becomes-labour-leader

    Reply
  8. St Jacinta of Portugal. Our own dear Jacinda’s namesake patron saint. http://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0103/1222/products/prt.stjacintamarto_grande.jpg

    Reply
  9. Zedd

     /  August 7, 2017

    I quite often listen to ZB; for ‘the voices of the public’ ?
    BUT the most of the ‘hosts’ are sounding more & MORE like employees of the National party.. lead by Hoskings.etc. The disturbing point being.. swinging voters can be swayed by these extreme opinions for the right.
    The media should stick to reporting the facts (as much as possible) rather than ‘spewing party political rhetoric’.. obvious bias

    btw; Garner said he supported many of the Greens ideas, BUT this A.M. he said he was being swayed away by the ‘Metiria Turei matter’ & followed it by a string of vitriol; FFS it happened 25 years ago.. “get you head out of your ass man !” sez I&I

    I also heard someone say ‘Why is it that ‘beneficiary cheats’ are hammered so hard.. when tax avoiders & ‘double dippers’ in parliament are effectively not even seen as a negative issue, to many minds ?
    SMALL Minds rule… NOT OK

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  August 7, 2017

      The NATZ conveniently forget about Sir (:() Douglas Graham. ..a convicted felon in a case involving fraud of $120+million! !

      Reply
      • Just as you’ve forgotten Bill Jeffries, Minister of Justice from 1989 to 1990 in the fourth Labour government.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Jeffries

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  August 7, 2017

          Compare them. .all.

          Reply
        • Let’s not forget Taito

          Reply
          • Blazer

             /  August 7, 2017

            Went to prison. Labour didn’t shield. ..him.

            Reply
            • Ray

               /  August 7, 2017

              Labour might not have but Miss Clark certainly organised an Inquiry that found him not guilty.
              It was only when the Police inquiry got close that the Labour Party gave him “indefinite leave from Parliment”.
              When he announced that he would stand against Labour the shielding fell.

            • Blazer

               /  August 7, 2017

              Ray..you appear to be accusing Clark of….corruption.

            • You have your head in the sand. Cullen and Clark absolutely defended him to the enth degree.

            • Blazer

               /  August 7, 2017

              Stop bluffing Travelers. What have you got to say about super con. .Graham?

          • In a shameful first, a (former) New Zealand Member of Parliament has been found guilty of corruption in relation to his duties as an MP. He championed the cause of poor people, while illegally exploiting them.

            Reply
    • Patzcuaro

       /  August 7, 2017

      Leighton Smith on ZB follows on from Hoskings so there is a good 6 hours of right wing talk back, then you get Larry Williams later in the day.

      Reply
      • PDB

         /  August 7, 2017

        It’s goes some way to even up red radio’s left-wing bias – even then the 12-4pm weekday show on ZB is generally a left-wing love fest with Mark Dye. Radio live weekdays is full of lefty dribble as well with the likes of Alison Mau.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  August 7, 2017

          I bet John Campbell has a hat with a pom-pom.

          Reply
          • High Flying Duck

             /  August 7, 2017

            Maaaaaaarvelous!

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  August 7, 2017

              A man came home unexpectedly and found his wife in bed with a drunk Italian and two Englishmen.

              So he sang

              ‘Hi, tiddly Eyetie-Pom, Pom !’

  10. Jay3

     /  August 7, 2017

    I think the sycophantic coverage of Ardern peaked last weekend in the Herald with Lizzy Marvelly’s hagiographic column on Saturday. Thank goodness for Marvelly that any rigorous analyses or rational argument is not required in opinion pieces. However, I’m sure her column will help bolster her case when she inevitably puts herself forward as a parliamentary candidate for the Labour Party at some point in the future,

    Reply
  11. Kitty Catkin

     /  August 7, 2017

    Has anyone read the political commentaries of the 18th century ?

    I doubt if any paper would dare to print such scurrilous things now. The cartoons have to be seen to be believed.

    One article, written after the ladies (grand ladies, upper class) who were canvassing for Charles Fox had been doing so in some streets that were inhabited by prostitutes said, among other things, ‘considering the frequent visits they pay to Covent Garden, it is no wonder that the Ladies catch the contagion of party spirit and are so warm in support of their favourite member.’

    Yes, this does mean that-the italics are in the original.

    I don’t think that any paper now would publish the equivalent of the cartoon of the Duchess of Devonshire smiling and riding on a fox (how subtle) facing and grasping his enormous and phallic tail as he gallops towards ‘Cuckolds Hall.’

    Reply
  1. Media has a responsibility to be balanced — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition

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