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The death-throes of news reporting

11 Mar 2024

On many occasions in this column, I have lamented the demise of objective, accurate, researched journalism in respect to news reporting.

The key tenets of the Fourth Estate are nothing more than a faded paragraph in the annals of history.

The closure of NewsHub is perhaps a much deserved warning to the news industry that chasing clicks and views whilst pocketing huge chunks of taxpayer cash in the form of a bribe designed to skew objectivity, instead of focusing on good, honest, news reporting, is a flawed strategy.

As if to further emphasize this, the state broadcaster TVNZ is also shedding much of its "news and current events" team in the name of "cost saving".

Sell your soul to the devil and you will never prevail!

The moment these organisations agreed to accept money (ie: the Public Interest Journalism Fund (PIJF)) in return for deviating from the prime directive of good journalism (objectivity), they were doomed.

News should be news, not just an arm of the state propaganda machine.

I have zero sympathy for any news organisation that drank from the poisoned chalice of this racist state funding program.

It is just a shame that the journalists themselves should suffer for the decisions made by the management of these organisations -- although, to carry the title "journalist" requires that you do not accept orders to violate the tents of the Fourth Estate. The Nuremburg Defense will is not acceptable, as a professional you have a responsibility to uphold stardards, even if your employer wants you to do otherwise.

So where to now for the up to 300 "journalists" who have lost their jobs?

The New Zealand market is nowhere near large enough to absorb this many suddenly-unemployed members of the news industry.

Chances are that a great many of them will move into PR, which is quite appropriate, given that since the PIJF had already turned them into spin-merchants rather than journalists.

My hope is that the rest of the news industry (the remainign tatters of a once-proud industry) will learn from what's just happened and recognise that it is folly to sell-out to bribery, no matter how many pieces of silver are on offer. One can but wish for the news industry to be reborn with very clear and immutable conviction to the concepts of honest, integrity, objectivity and accuracy in its reporting.

Am I simply being an unrealistic optimist?

Well to be honest, yet again, I am sorely tempted to get back into the news publishing business and show these people how it should be done (as I did late last century with 7am News).

Never before has it been easier or more viable for a small entity to make big changes in the way news is collected and reported. I have many ideas about this buzzing in my head right now and just wish I had the time and money to pursue them.

Sadly, I'm old, a little bit tired and need to make sure I can pay my bills -- rather than engaging in a venture that would take several years to become profitable.

Ah well, I guess I can sit on the sidelines and watch. I expect we'll see someone else come up with the same ideas I'm sitting on right now and, in doing so, generate a new renaissance in news reporting, whilst also earning a healthy amount of money in the process.

Of course if all those redundant news-industry workers want to make me an offer my ears are open :-)

Carpe Diem folks!

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