Rodney Hide has a great column in the NBR. I love his comments on journalists:
The government is built on policy that serves no useful public purpose.
Insiders know it. Outsiders don’t.
The reason for the disjunct is that journalists serve as the intermediary between insiders and outsiders. Journalists have arts degrees and lost their ability to think while still quite young. They can’t distinguish good policy from the bad.
In my early days – when too young to know better – I would try to engage journalists in rudimentary policy discussion. I mean really, really rudimentary, like there are tough trade-offs and always opportunity costs.
The eyes would glaze. The attention span was less than 30 seconds. I gave up. I am slow. I don’t give up easily. But even I quickly learned that basic policy analysis is beyond the intellectual reach and interest of New Zealand journalists.
Public policy is forged and determined in the grubby, glorious world of politics. There are no philosopher kings in the bowels of the Beehive.