Journalists think they’re our moral arbiters and secular priests – Laws

It seems Whaleoil readers aren’t the only ones fed up with the Prima Donnas in the Old Media.  Michael Laws takes a sober look at what is going on:

One of the great dichotomies of democracy is that we don’t trust those that we elect to lead us. This does not stop us getting very passionate and involved every electoral cycle. We have one of the highest electoral turnouts in the Western world.

The same point might be made of the relationship between the New Zealand news media and the public. We are avid consumers of news – we just don’t trust the people charged with managing that information.

There’s good reason for this. Politicians have acquired an unenviable reputation for promising sunshine and delivering rain. Journalists, for reporting the rain as snow. Charged with delivering the truth, they deliver their own version. It’s the final scene of Orwell’s Animal Farm made post-modern.

The best example of this is the parliamentary press gallery – a gaggle of competing egos, and any number suffering a God complex. TV3’s Patrick Gower was a perfect example last week, claiming that his job “is to hold the Government accountable . . . we’re the eyes and ears of the public”.

No, it isn’t. And no, he’s not. His job is not to act as judge and jury – it is to relay the facts and let us make up our own minds. That’s the fatal misstep that so many journalists make: they really do believe that they’re our moral arbiters and secular priests.

The problem is that many news rooms are trying to achieve an outcome.  Let’s “get him”, let’s “tell this story”, let’s “pay him/her back” for some transgression.

They are over-sensitive to any criticism or to having the same principles applied to them. Gower’s employers, for example, wanted me sacked from my job as a radio talkback host, because I had the temerity to contribute a column in this newspaper, criticising their news staff objectivity over the John Key-John Banks “teagate” affair.

Indeed the problem with the whole parliamentary press gallery last week was that they refuse to have the same principles applied to them as they sought to apply to others.

That much is clear.  The sanctimony could be sliced with a knife it was so thick.  Heavens!

A couple of years ago, fellow Sunday Star-Times columnist Andrea Vance wrote a fascinating account of her time as a News of the World reporter. She described the high pressure tactics and threats that were routine in trying to prise information from reluctant members of the public.

In the past five years, I’ve both witnessed and experienced similar tactics here. And they clearly win those practitioners media awards – such as the New Zealand Herald’s David Fisher, the current Canon Media Awards reporter of the year.

Yep.  Going to funerals to take photos to run a hit on a Minister.  Or continuing to refer to someone John Key had in the same classroom in his youth as “a childhood friend”.  The constant repetition of slanted ideas and twisted truths are employed to sell more papers or get more eyeballs.

And I’m OK with that.

But what I can’t stand is that they pretend to be better, more moral, above the dirty tricks.

They are a bunch of manipulative liars…and have been shown up for it this week.

And I’m OK with that.

If it wasn’t for the fact that they pretend they are direct progeny in the mould of Walter Cronkite or David Frost, they would self destruct in their own lack of logic.

The reality here is that they’ve inserted themselves as victims and the public aren’t buying.

The funny thing is this, the media used to hide behind their bylines if they ever used one, the advent of social media has thrust them, un-prepared and ill equipped, into the public eye. This is something they are used to inflicting on people but are only just now experiencing push back.

I didn’t coin the phrase, someone else did but I thin that there is definitely now a Fifth Estate and boy they don’t like it. The sanctimonious squealing coming from the former protected classes is something to behold. it would be righteous indignation if only they were righteous.

The way I see it the more squealing the better, means we are on the money.


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

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