Sunday, April 10, 2022

Chris Lynch: Trust in New Zealand news media nose dives, “No strong case for public funding of commercial news content.”

Trust in news media in New Zealand has fallen “alarmingly” according to a new study from AUT.

From 2020-2022, broadcasters TVNZ, Newshub, RNZ and Newsroom saw the biggest drops – over 10%.

During the same period, the NZ Herald, Newstalk ZB and Stuff also experienced “significant declines in trust.”

Stuff dropped approximately 5% and in the NZ Herald 8% the study said.

In 2020, 62% of New Zealanders trusted the news they consumed, in 2022 the figure was 52%.

In 2021-2022, trust in the Iwi radio network, Māori TV and TVNZ dropped more than 10% from the previous year, and trust in RNZ fell almost 9%.

RNZ remained the most trusted news brand (trust score 6.2/10).

The Otago Daily Times (6.0/10), included in the survey for the first time, was the second most trusted news brand in 2022, followed by TVNZ (5.9/10) and Newshub (5.8/10).

The Trust in Aotearoa News in New Zealand report was produced in collaboration with the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

For the 2022 report, 1,085 New Zealand adults (18 years of age or over) were surveyed between February 22 and March 1, 2022, by Horizon Research.

                                  CLICK TO VIEW
Graphic: AUT research centre for Journalism, Media and Democracy (JMAD)

The Spinoff and Newstalk ZB maintained their 2021 trust levels.

Report co-author Dr Merja Myllylahti said one of the main reasons for distrust in news media appeared to be “the Government’s funding of it.”

“A large number of respondents now perceive media as an extension of the Government, hence it is seen as untrustworthy.”

Report co-author Dr Merja Myllylahti

Dr Greg Treadwell, co-author of the report said “this year, journalists have been increasingly under attack when reporting on the Covid crisis, vaccinations, vaccine mandates, and protests.”

“In its role as a disseminator of vital information in a crisis, the media has perhaps been seen as the Government mouthpiece. In one sense, it has quite rightly been.”

No strong case for ongoing public funding of commercial news content

Meanwhile, a separate review of the $55 million fund established to promote public interest journalism found the case for ongoing funding of commercial news is "not strong".

The report was produced by consultancy company Sapare and was quietly added to the Ministry of Culture and Heritage website in February.

It said given the current state of plurality and the risks associated with public funding of journalism content “we do not see a strong case for any ongoing public funding of commercial news content.”

Several news chiefs expressed concern that funding decisions had crossed into editorial decision-making, with New Zealand On Air effectively holding a ‘beauty contest’ to choose which proposed stories/investigations merited support.

It was suggested that funding these one-off incremental outputs will produce marginal public benefit and does little to encourage the industry to confront the true challenges of producing sustainable news.

The funding support from the PIJF was also described as uneven and creating winners and losers in the industry.

Despite the impact of Covid-19 being near universal, some newsrooms benefited from taxpayer-funded staff while others missed out entirely.

Others observed that due to the relatively limited pool of journalists in New Zealand, the Public Interest Journalism Fund created a ‘giant game of musical chairs’ and was leading to salary inflation rather than building new capacity.

Some news outlets also expressed reservations that public funding of media firms may make those firms beholden to the government of the day and public officials might be reluctant to fund proposals that will be critical of government policies – which would undermine a key plurality objective of the media being able to hold public institutions and elected officials accountable.

However, most news firms interviewed rejected the proposition that government funding would affect their editorial independence, impartiality, or their willingness to criticise government policies and decisions.

The report said the government’s role in funding journalism is a complex issue that will need to be fully explored at some point in the future, including giving consideration to how funding decisions are made and the level of independence from government oversight.

Broadcaster Chris Lynch is an award winning journalist who also produces Christchurch news and video content for domestic and international companies. This article was first published HERE


RRB said...

Of course the news media that are taxpayer funded don't think removing taxpayer funding is a good idea - hell, they may have to find a job.
Times have changed and there isn't a good reason to use taxpayer dollars to fund a quasi government department that dispenses political propaganda.

Anna Mouse said...

So in short, not really a 'Public Interest' Journalism Fund, more a government/journalist interest fund.

It is no wonder they are now known as 'Mainly State Media' and in some circles 'Mainly Socialist Media'. Both pretty accurate summations.

Terry Morrissey said...

"However, most news firms interviewed rejected the proposition that government funding would affect their editorial independence, impartiality, or their willingness to criticise government policies and decisions."
So why no coverage of He Puapua, 3 Waters, insidious introduction of apartheid, government failures, corruption, lies and incompetence of ministers? The medias independence and impartiality died the day the PJF was born.

DeeM said...

So, will the MSM look objectively at this survey and then make a plan to try to reverse this slide in public trust?
Almost certainly NO. Because the MSM are led by the woke brigade and anyone who doesn't like or believe what they write are the "river of filth" and should be marginalised and cancelled.
I wonder what they would think if the survey ever showed 95% lack of trust in them. Their solution would likely be build walls and employ security guards around their offices so they can carry on the good fight - after all, they would well and truly be a tiny minority along with all the other woke minority causes they champion.

gregd said...

Have you ever listened to a live interview on radio,then the wokester in the news room re arranges the story to create a headline which was never mentioned, and for good measure add in some te- reo and the newsreaders have to read this rubbish.Whilst Zb are not left by any means there seems to be be this wokester brigade in the 2nd/3rd row who produce this rubbish. Senior announcers have to read this under duress.There is a news reader on weekdays between 8-12pm who around the 10pm bulletin, decides to have 15sec's of te-reo to commence with.and nobody has any idea what the guy is talking about, with no explanation.No wonder ratings and trust have dropped through MSM .Broadcasting used to be of trained persons in journalism, and trained English speaking announcers, who set an example for New Zealand watchers and listeners but things have changed and the ratings reflect that with thinking people.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it is time to remind the public of the purpose of the media, which is to "...act as an counterbalance, a systemically opposite force that is to report, verify and question matters of governance, public matters as well as commercial ones, conducted by the powers, we the people, have entrusted it with and bestowed upon." Clearly this is not the role that the media in New Zealand are currently playing. The disdain that the media carry for the NZ public is extremely clear, opinion offered as news, the ignoring of stories that deserve investigation to keep the public informed and the social engineering through the insertion of Te Reo and other beliefs held by the media. NZ deserves better than this but is apparently not demanding it.