Karl du Fresne on the self-absorption of the media luvvies

Karl du Fresne looks at the self-absorption of the media luvvies:

Is the world going mad, or is it just me?

On second thoughts, don’t answer that. But please consider, just for a moment, some of the issues that have been making headlines over the past couple of weeks.

First, Hilary Barry. The announcement of her resignation from MediaWorks was reported as if Earth had momentarily tilted on its axis.

Here I was thinking Barry was just a newsreader – a competent newsreader, admittedly (although her pronunciation and personal asides sometimes grate), but just a newsreader, nonetheless – someone who reads words written by other people.

Obviously I completely misunderstood her place in the life of the nation. If the media coverage of her resignation is any guide, she’s a totemic figure whose career moves are a matter of urgent and compelling public interest.

No doubt media people would justify the fuss over Barry’s resignation by saying it was the tipping point that led to the departure of the unloved MediaWorks boss Mark Weldon. But they didn’t know that then.

Even if they did, it was an example of media people being too absorbed in their own affairs, and assuming that the ordinary punter in the street shares their fascination. My advice would be to get over themselves.

In television especially, detached judgment in journalism is old-hat. The rule now is that if journalists are interested in it, it must be news.

The Media party these days is more interested in being the news than reporting the news, and when that doesn’t work out for them then they manufacture the news. Which brings us to the Panama Papers.

Now, the Panama Papers. After all the frenzied media coverage of the past couple of weeks, I have to ask: where’s the smoking gun, exactly?

Reporters eagerly burrowed through truckloads of leaked documents from Mossack Fonseca and came up with … nothing much at all.

The conspiracy theorists struck out here. The only damning disclosure related to John Key’s lawyer, who used his relationship with the prime minister as leverage to secure a meeting with Revenue Minister Todd McLay – a worrying blurring of the lines of propriety, but that’s par for the course from a government that sometimes gives the impression of having had an integrity bypass.
And oh, the schadenfreude. While media outlets that had been granted advance access to the latest Panama Papers leak struggled to find anything newsworthy in it, those denied that privilege (if that’s the right word) took delight in pooh-poohing the whole affair as a non-event.

Hence TV3 political journalist Lloyd Burr triumphantly announced that no bomb had gone off. In other circumstances Burr, if he’s like most political journalists, would have been keen to find the bomb and detonate it himself. It was hard to escape the conclusion that he was more concerned with scoring a point against TVNZ, which was one of the media organisations that had the inside running on the release.

As for the general public, I imagine a lot of people would have switched off the moment they learned Dirty Politics author Nicky Hager was a key player in the leak. People are justifiably sceptical about those who describe themselves as journalists but pursue a political agenda.

Precisely. Nicky Hager is toxic. He never presents all the facts, lies by omission and plays favourites with compliant and complicit media luvvies like Andrea Vance.

There was a breathless post on the Radio New Zealand website about the thrill of collaborating with Hager in sifting through the supposedly incriminating documents, but RNZ and TVNZ severely compromised their credibility by aligning themselves with a man whose ideological crusades are a matter of public record. What on earth were they thinking?

They were probably thinking they should try and get some value for the undisclosed sums they paid ICIJ and Nicky Hager for access to the non-event.


– Karl du Fresne



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  • Falcor

    You only have to watch (an endeavour I know, but) Story lately and all of the stories are about the people on story.
    They should all save the company money and just update everyone via Twitter

  • one for the road

    “People are justifiably sceptical about those who describe themselves as journalists but pursue a political agenda.”

    Not only Hager, but the so called “journalists” who worked on this from RNZ and TVNZ, both Govt owned organisations, getting involved in political agendas…

    Fire the lot and lets get some decent independent, balanced and smart journos

    • Dumrse

      I don’t think the smart journo school has produced a smart journo in the last 15 to 20 years. Give or take.

  • anniem

    3 cheers for Karl du Fresne, give that man a medal. I could scarcely believe what i was hearing one morning when Paula Penfold (late of TV3 and wife of McRoberts )was being interviewed and defending Hilary Barry and she stated that the public were so dismayed as they ” had an emotional attachment” to Barry when she was reading the news! Spare me please! TOSH TOSH TOSH

    • Sagacious Blonde

      He still couldn’t get by without getting in a leftie gibe though – “that’s par for the course from a government that sometimes gives the impression of having had an integrity bypass.”

      • willtin

        They do though; things like taking a short cut to a plane. Horrendous stuff.

      • anniem

        Yes agreed but in the general scheme
        of things it’s a pretty good piece showing up the liberal luvvvies

  • Rick H

    After spending over 12 months sifting through the stolen (hacked / leaked) data – – – –
    I have seen something that suggests they have been sifting through this for very much longer than a year – –
    Why then, would they announce only a matter of a few weeks ago – –
    – -there was going to be a major hit on many, many important people over this – – especially John Key – – –
    When through all their sifting, they had absolutely nothing – zilch – zero to announce?

    I can not, as hard as I try to – find a reason for them to actually release any info – -seeing that they actually had zero worthy items of interest.

    Years sifting through the data – -nothing to prove anything illegal – – –
    I would keep my mouth shut and say nothing, not even a murmer.

    • willtin

      Oh but where there is smoke there is fire, they will say to the ignorant, sorry, missing, millions; except the smoke only shows up in their mirrors.

  • Crowgirl

    They wrote a story about themselves writing a story about nothing. How very meta.

    The media is in danger of disappearing up its own fundament, if they haven’t already.

  • waldopepper

    i havent watched tv for over ten years. got rid of it out of my house. others should try it. i miss nothing, if any really big story breaks someone will always call and say “did you see xxz?’ and life is a lot happier without the daily dose of negativity from the idiot box. which, after abandoning it, i discovered it is indeed called that for a reason.

  • Red

    The only time the TV goes on at my place these days is to stream something I’m interested in. The drivel served up by the broadcast media isn’t worth the waste of electrons.

  • Rob

    “but RNZ and TVNZ severely compromised their credibility by
    aligning themselves with a man whose ideological crusades are a matter
    of public record. What on earth were they thinking?”
    I hope many readers have sent RNZ a blast over this as I have. Disgraceful behavior for a public broadcaster who should act and be seen as impartial at least.